Why am I running for Lebanon County commissioner? What experiences qualify me to hold this office?

I see my public service as your next Lebanon County commissioner as a natural outgrowth of my wide-ranging community work and leadership activities in the Lebanon Valley over the past dozen-plus years. Born and raised in Minnesota, I moved here in 2008 to take a job teaching History at Lebanon Valley College. Since then I have planted deep roots here and grown to love this place.

Fact is, I already spend most hours of most days engaged in some kind of community service activity, giving back to the community that I’ve grown to love and that has given so much to me. I also bring to the table broad familiarity with the political and civic landscape of our county and a wide range of practical and professional life experiences.

What experiences? I have worked as a roofer, carpenter, builder, painter, mason’s laborer, landscaper, dishwasher, short-order cook, clerk, taxi driver, architectural draftsman, contract writer, teacher, and more. I speak Spanish, am widely traveled, an environmentalist, an independent thinker, and unafraid to question authority or challenge conventional wisdom. I get along well with people of diverse stripes and persuasions and have a long track record as an active citizen here in Lebanon County, most prominently:

  • President, Quittapahilla Watershed Association, which has facilitated the receipt of millions of dollars in state and federal grants for stream restoration work here in Lebanon County.

I know how to work collaboratively with others in pursuit of common aims, and how to seek common ground and a productive path forward when opinions differ. I play by the rules, play fair and square, and am well suited by experience, inclination, and disposition to serve as Lebanon’s next county commissioner.

What makes me the best candidate for this position?

As a political outsider and a longtime active citizen with a deep well of practical life experience to draw from, I will bring a fresh voice, a fresh perspective, and fresh leadership to the county commissioners’ office. Every day I will do my utmost to put our county government to work for the citizens it is intended to serve, not for special interests or political insiders. I have long experience working productively with people of diverse viewpoints and agendas, and successfully navigating the political and interpersonal dynamics of boards, committees, and organizations.

Honest and forthright, candid but diplomatic, I am unafraid to ask hard questions, to speak my mind, and to readily acknowledge when I don’t know something. I am a quick learner, a hard worker, a team player, and an effective communicator. I know how to listen, engage in dialogue, seek common ground, and disagree without being disagreeable. My inner moral compass consistently points me toward goals and solutions to problems that are fair, hew to the Golden Rule, and in the best interests of the greatest numbers of people. I am financially secure and beholden to no special interests or entrenched powerholders.

Getting good things done as a Lebanon County commissioner will mean using my voice and public position to work in active and sustained collaboration with a full spectrum of organizations, institutions, constituencies, enterprises, and initiatives for the long-term betterment of our community—a natural extension of the community work I’ve been doing for many years in my other roles.

What are my priorities? What issues do I hope to focus on?

In talking to voters, a number of issues keep cropping up as major concerns that are also at the top of my agenda for influencing change in positive ways. Let me focus here on just the top three:

  1. Managing Growth and Traffic. The rapid growth of huge, multi-million-square-foot warehouses, and the accompanying growth of truck traffic, traffic congestion, travel time, air pollution, and noise are major concerns across the county. We need a county commissioner who understands the need for economic growth to be proactively managed in ways that benefit our communities, enhance our collective well-being, and that won’t degrade our quality of life.
  1. Economic Development. Key here is promoting, expanding, and diversifying existing industries and businesses in ways that enhance the vitality of surrounding communities; developing and attracting a skilled workforce; linking economic investments to community development; and deepening cooperation and collaboration across private and public sectors. An excellent example here is the WEPA Empowerment Center in Lebanon, which is just getting off the ground and shows tremendous promise in these vitally important spheres.
  1. Affordable Living. Many working people in Lebanon County are simply not earning enough to make ends meet, especially as prices for food, energy, and housing have risen dramatically. The Lebanon County United Way estimates that more than a quarter of our county’s residents earn above the Federal Poverty Level but still fall can’t afford basics like childcare, housing, health care, and food for their families. We need a county commissioner who’s keenly attentive to the challenges confronting our county’s working people.

Other top issues include reforming and humanizing our county’s public safety and criminal justice system; protecting our waterways and other natural resources, including preserving farmland and forestland; developing a better multi-modal transportation system; and encouraging more affordable housing. For a fuller discussion, see Schroeder4Commisioner.com.

For all of these reasons, I respectfully ask for the vote of all registered Democrats in the primary election period that ends Tuesday, May 16, and, should I emerge victorious in the primary, for the vote of all registered voters in the general election of Tuesday, November 7.