I care deeply about the rural way of life. It’s how I grew up, going to the same school as my mother and my grandmother, surrounded by family and tradition.
But rural life is not the same now. I’ve seen the economic trends in this region over the years and I’m concerned for the people who call this place home.
We see large employers leave the area, and empty storefronts where there used to be businesses. Too many people cannot make a good wage without piecing together multiple jobs. Farmers and small business owners are losing the livelihood passed down for generations.
As a mother of three grown children myself, I know first-hand what it is like when your children are forced to move away to find decent employment.
Our small towns can’t afford to repair an aging infrastructure and clean up the toxic land where crumbling factory buildings still stand as symbols of decay and decline. The people who once worked in those factories are slipping into poverty and have high rates of suicide and addiction.
Why I am Running for Congress
I am running for office because I truly understand what the people of rural Pennsylvania need--and I won't quit until I bring us the help we have paid for with our sweat and taxes, to claim our fair share of this great country’s wealth.
And because I believe, with every bone in my body, in PROGRESS FOR ALL.
What My Experience Taught Me
Before becoming a teacher, I worked for 20 years in human services in rural areas, helping provide drug and alcohol rehabilitation to families in crisis.
It was clear to me that there is a deep connection between economics and addiction. I saw how low wages and high unemployment can undermine the human spirit and create a hopelessness in which addiction can flourish.
And now, in rural Pennsylvania, the evidence is right here in front of us, as we watch rates of poverty, addiction and suicide all rising together.
Back to School
In my forties, I went back to school to find answers, to study how effective policy and government might make a difference. I got my Ph.D. at Cornell’s Department of Policy Analysis.
I directed a study with four New York counties to develop mental health and addiction services that were better suited for rural needs with local control, a study that earned an award from the Governor’s Office for leadership in innovation.
I’m now a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), continuing my research on how local government can combat social problems and teaching my students to take action and work for change.
I’ve been an active volunteer as well, working with the Indiana County Sustainable Economic Development Task Force. I’m also on the Board of Directors for the Community Guidance Center and on the Steering Committee for the Food Co-Op of Indiana PA.
But it isn’t enough.
I realized that if I wanted to see the kind of change that requires US government support and funding, I need to take my passion and commitment to Washington and walk the halls of Congress, solving the problems with a willingness to listen and work together.
What Government Can and Should Do
The answer to the problems we experience here begins with economic development. Our local governments need the US Congress to create conditions that allow small businesses and farms to thrive.
I believe in government action that promotes strong families and prosperous businesses. We need government support for small business and agriculture cooperatives, infrastructure development, renewable energy initiatives and access to high-speed internet in rural areas.
For years, our political leaders have passed legislation to solely benefit large corporate donors, while leaving small businesses behind. This needs to change.
I won’t, I can’t, sit back and watch our small town, rural way of life disintegrate and disappear. I won’t let us be left behind. Send me to Washington so I can craft the solutions that will allow us to thrive and prosper and share the American dream.
I still believe in that dream. I still believe in PROGRESS FOR ALL.