Letter to the Editor:
This fall, voters in southwestern Chester County will once again have a Schott vs. Lawrence campaign for State Representative. I’m proud to follow in the footsteps of my husband, Eric, who was our party’s nominee in 2012. After careful thought, Eric decided not to make a second run this year.
A key factor in this decision was Eric’s firm belief that our party should field a female candidate. Over the past decade, there have been five contests for the 13th District seat, involving six different candidates—all of them men. We see this same pattern at the state level: 70 percent of the Governor’s cabinet and more than 80 percent of the members of the General Assembly are men. According to the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University, Pennsylvania ranks 39th in the number of women who serve in state policy roles.
When asked by neighbors, friends, and leaders of our local party if I would consider running for the legislature, I reflected on my own conviction that a well-functioning democracy requires a truly representative democracy. Harrisburg needs fresh perspectives, fewer career politicians, and greater diversity. In short, our legislature has to look like Pennsylvania to actually serve Pennsylvania.
A second consideration in deciding to seek this seat is my own life’s work as a high school educator. We must turn away from Governor Corbett’s education policies, which are driving up local property taxes, increasing inequity in our public schools, and forcing districts to end proven programs. Two years ago, my opponent and his supporters spent nearly $100,000 trying to hide this record using glossy images and vague promises. Just as Eric was able to invoke his teaching experience to deconstruct this spin, I hope my service in public schools can provide voters with a clear choice: more of Tom Corbett’s failed policies or a new direction.
On education and any number of issues, our communities are not as politically divided as the media or pundits would have us think. The great majority of voters want to see adequate provision of high-quality early childhood programs, safe roadways, and a common-sense extraction tax on an out-of-state fracking industry that is making record profits from our public lands and public infrastructure.
Harrisburg has ignored these priorities while instead obsessing over ideological wedge issues. To be clear, Republicans have controlled every part of Harrisburg for the last four years, and they have dominated the legislature for a quarter-century. There’s a worn cliché that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting different results. My point is: don’t expect more one-party control to lead to anything other than more dysfunction. Likewise, it’s folly to expect that Mr. Lawrence will suddenly deliver on campaign promises he’s been making every two years since 2006. Mr. Lawrence is a good man but his record is plain: state aid to local schools is down, property taxes are up, roadways across southern Chester and Lancaster counties have deteriorated, and our state’s fiscal crisis has deepened considerably.
We can do better. And every 13th District voter—Democrat, Republican, independent, third party—who shares this belief has a home in my campaign.
Thank you to the hundreds of local voters who signed my nominating petitions to help us take the first step in this campaign. I hope to earn your support again in the Democratic Primary on Tuesday, May 20th, and I look forward to the campaign ahead.