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People are struggling in Dauphin, York, and Lebanon counties. A woman in Steelton Borough in Dauphin County told me that the cost of insulin co-pays had more than tripled for her diabetic teenage son, making it challenging to put food on the table for her family, especially toward the end of the month. An elderly man in Springettsbury Township in York County told me that property taxes have become so high that he fears he’ll have to sell his house and move in with his daughter’s family. A young mother in Lebanon told me that the cost of daycare for her two young children takes up most of her earnings from her part-time, slightly-above minimum wage job as a clerk in a convenience store, leaving barely enough for food and rent.
Sadly, I hear similar stories across Central PA. I can feel the anxiety among students at Lebanon Valley College, where I teach history and other courses, about the debt they’re accumulating and whether they’ll be able to get a decent job after graduating. The anxiety and unease felt by these promising young people is thick in the air as they look ahead to uncertain futures.
I’m running for state senate in Senate District 48 in the special election of Tuesday, January 14 because I believe that the purpose of government is to serve the public good, and that our state government is largely failing to achieve this most basic purpose.
As a history professor, I’ve studied periods of momentous change and the ways people have adapted to, embraced, and even learned to thrive with that change. The many challenges facing Pennsylvanians today – including skyrocketing health care costs, mounting income inequality, rising student debt, stagnating wages, deteriorating schools, and intensifying climate change – will require innovation and adaptation. I believe that the state government must be an active partner in helping everyone find and pursue opportunities in this rapidly changing world, while also providing a safety net for those struggling to adapt.
My opponent in this race, Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold, offers more of the same policies that have helped to create our current troubles: cutting taxes for the wealthy and large corporations while shifting the tax burden to working people; reducing state spending on education and social services; limiting women’s reproductive rights; ignoring the mounting threats of climate change.
To me, public service means doing what I can to help improve my community. Serving in the state senate would be a natural extension of the public service I’ve practiced for years – as founder and Executive Director of the Quittapahilla Creek Garbage Museum, winner of the 2017 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for its efforts to raise public awareness about the importance of keeping our waterways free of pollutants; President of the Quittapahilla Watershed Association (www.quittiecreek.org); President of the Friends of Old Annville (www.fooa.org); active member of the Quittie Creek Nature Park Committee, which stewards the Nature Park in collaboration with Annville Township; and Vice President of Lebanon Pipeline Awareness. Fact is, I spend a good chunk of most every day performing some kind of volunteer public service for the larger community.
At 61 years of age, I’m not looking for a new career, and pledge to serve no more than two full terms in the Senate. My opponent, a career politician in his fourth term as district attorney, has an annual salary of over $180,000 and close ties to big-money Harrisburg lobbyists. His nomination was so egregiously unfair that one committee member called it a “sham” (Penn Capital-Star, Oct. 17). Other Republican activists complained about the nomination process to the state Party Chair, while several elected Republican officials signed a letter calling for Casey Long to resign as Lebanon County Republican Committee Chair.
How will my opponent vote on the important issues facing Pennsylvanians today? We don’t know, because he hasn’t articulated his positions on health care, education, income inequality, climate change, and other vital issues. He has refused most media inquiries and has only a bare-bones website. In contrast, I spent weeks thinking through my positions and creating a robust website that details my stances on key issues and invites voters to voice their concerns.
I believe that state government must play a vital role in improving the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians. As a historian, I’ve studied how adaptable people can be when confronted with hard realities and difficult choices. I have faith that we can successfully overcome our many challenges, which I pledge to approach with fairness, compassion, reason, and respect for all. For these reasons, I humbly ask for your vote on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
Michael Schroeder is Associate Professor of History at Lebanon Valley College and the Democratic Party’s nominee for Senate District 48. For more information, visit www.schroeder4senate.com.