Last summer, I received a call from a woman in Parkesburg, PA. A friend of her’s was in trouble, and she was told I might be someone who could help. She had called many people, and was desperate for assistance. Her friend, for the purpose of this story, was named Halle. Halle, a victim of domestic violence several years ago, realized her abuser had been granted parole and had moved to the area seeking a fresh start. Her and her 5 year-old son had to move out of their room immediately. She had nowhere to go, not much money, and needed help.
Getting calls like this come with the territory as Mayor in a lower-middle class area. I know that because I grew up here. I know what it’s like to struggle, to listen to parents fighting over paying bills, to live with a mother who is often tired from working two jobs. I was humbled that Halle’s friend felt comfortable reaching out to me in spite of the fact that we only knew each other in passing. Within a week, we were able to secure her a job. She used that job to find an apartment located in a great public school district suitable for her son.
People like Halle are the reason why I am running for State Representative: to help those that need it the most. All you need to do is stop by a food cupboard in Coatesville to see the dozens of families that have to rely on others to meet their basic needs and you’ll have all the reason in the world to fight for sustainable healthy foods in poverty-stricken areas. Spend the evening with the thousands of mourners during the Crime Victims Vigil in Downingtown and even the most conservative NRA member should be able to understand that banning weapons used to commit violent crimes will save lives. Look into the eyes of a 22-year old recovering heroin addict at a halfway house and you’ll see that drug addiction must be treated as a disease we must cure and not a crime.
Growing up, I had a mother who loved me and encouraged me. I was part of a community that looked out for me, even when times seemed like they were never going to get better. When I was struggling with my SAT prep, not knowing if I could even afford college, a public school teacher stayed after school once a week to tutor me one on one. When I had to move back to Downingtown to help take care of my family during my junior year at West Chester University, my professors allowed me to change my schedule in the middle of my semester so that I could drive my younger brother and sister to school.
I was elected Mayor at the age of 26. Before I was elected, Downingtown had been a Republican town. Downingtown had a Republican controlled council, and had voted consistently for Republicans for State Representative. However, my hometown had just elected me its youngest, and most progressive, Mayor in history. I quickly wanted to change the perception of Downingtown and its politics. I joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns and spoke publicly about the need for background checks and to close the gun show and Florida loopholes. I joined Mayors For the Freedom to Marry and advocated for marriage equality and an anti-discrimination ordinance to be passed in Downingtown that protected LGBT rights. I am proud that Downingtown just recently became the 34th municipality in Pennsylvania to pass this law. In Chester County, the wealthiest county in Pennsylvania, there have not been a lot of progressive voices- so I wanted to be one.
However, as a State Representative, I want to be more than progressive voice, I want to bring about positive change in peoples lives.
I am the proud product of Downingtown public schools and I will concentrate my efforts on making sure every child in Pennsylvania, regardless of economic circumstance, has an opportunity to get a top-tier public education.
As State Representative, I will work to restore education funding, allowing school districts to hire more reading aides and special education assistants as well as provide after-school enrichment programs for students.
As State Representative, I will defend PASSHE schools from harmful changes and support efforts to make public universities more appealing to high school graduates, increase course undergraduate and graduate level offerings and make college more affordable for students in Pennsylvania. Students should choose PASSHE schools not only because they’re less expensive, but because they provide an equal or better education than their private or state-affiliated counterparts.
As State Representative, I will support and sponsor the REACH scholarship, which would incentivize qualified, under-privileged students to have the opportunity to attend a state university. The REACH scholarship (Reliable Educational Assistance for College Hopefuls) provides students with a full tuition scholarship to one of the 14 state schools, if they graduate with a 3.0 GPA and a 90 percent attendance record.
As State Representative, I will focus on bringing good paying middle-class jobs to the Coatesville and Downingtown areas, focusing on recruiting companies that can fill the over 1000 jobs lost from steel manufacturing leaving the Coatesville area.
As State Representative, I will fight to enhance the rights of the LGBT community and bring marriage equality to Pennsylvania.
As State Representative, I will, without hesitation, support a women’s right to protect her reproductive health.
As the endorsed candidate for State Representative, I am extraordinarily proud to be supported by progressive organizations like the Chester County Democratic Party, Progressive Majority, and the Pennsylvania Humane Society in addition to the UFCW 1776 and the Chester County Fraternal Order of Police. Our campaign, with over 50 volunteers, has also earned the support of over 20 elected officials who represent some or all of the 74th State Representative District including State Senator Andy Dinniman and Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone.
But in the end, after all the votes are counted, the only thing that will matter is Halle, and the people like her throughout this district, who will need to be able to count on their representative to focus on what truly matters most — them.