Today was my last day as a hall crawler. I met with my replacement and a young woman, daughter of friends, who is an intern with a state senator, and wanted to walk around with me. We met at the office of a representative from my old home in Clarion. She had gone to high school with my children. She is a fast rising star in the Republican Party. I know that she will be the first woman speaker of the house in Pennsylvania’s history.
She has been pretty close to me since she got to the legislature. Since we knew that this was the last meeting, she gave us a clear picture of what was going on with the state budget. It was not very encouraging, but Donna is not one to mince words. I cannot tell you how proud of her I am. I know that I had nothing to do with her success, yet I feel that she is going to make it big.
My replacement had a meeting to go to, so I was with my young friend. Since she was already familiar with the Senate, I had her go with me to a number of house members. One of my oldest friends, over 30 years is the former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. When Dwight wanted to run for governor, I arranged for him to go out to western Pennsylvania and have his say. He did not make the cut, but his understanding of the rural parts of the state grew large.
Dwight is viewed by his confreres in the Legislative Black Caucus as an elder statesman. He exerts a great deal of moral authority, although he is not as high ranking as he once was. When he and I and Representative Jake go out to lunch, it’s like an Oreo, with me as the white center. We laugh a great deal and do some serious conversation. I will miss Dwight.
Matt is a young man who happened to graduate from the same college and in the same year as some of our scholarship students. He is as bright as a shiny penny and as conservative as one can get. His views maybe different from mine, but he is a true rep from his area. He is very attached to his electorate and does everything that he can to give them some advantages. He is well up in the understanding of school finance and consults with his superintendents of school as often as once a month. That is a sign that he knows what he is doing.
Kristin is a new representative. She has school board experience and was an aide in another reps’ office. She does not come into her job with a lack of understanding of the process of getting legislation through. She is very sincere and have me a big hug goodbye and wished me will. She will also go far in the future. She is very concerned about the stalemate in the legislature and I am sure she has some ideas of how to loosen the logjam.
Bob is a friend of mine. We exchange jokes and information about folks that we know together. He is big time into community planning and all that goes with it. He is exceptionally bright and really should be in a leadership position. Somehow, he probably threatens current leadership. I wished him well after we exchanged some jokes.
I am not sure that the young lady who was with me understood all that was going on. I tried my best to explain the various positions of each of these people. We strolled into Seth’s office. He represents York County and is a cut above his cohorts. Seth is big time into taxes and how to make them fair. He would sponsor bills that would completely change how schools are funded. As he works on these issues, he comes closer to my view of things.
We traveled to another building on the Capitol campus to visit the Chairman, of the Democratic House Education Committee. This is really where my office is. I have been given permission to hang out there. Jim is from Philly, has a doctorate and has a broad view of education in Pennsylvania. He has been on the state board for many years. He was on when I was. He is not a voluble person. He influences very quietly, but with much force.
The executive director for the Dems on the Ed. committee is Chris. This long lanky guy is the brains in the education community in the legislature. He has worked on every major piece of education legislation over the past 15 years. He has sought me out many times to ask how some things that he is working on would affect school districts across the state. He is a frequent speaker at our conference and is always given the highest evaluation.
I am closest to the people who work in Jim’s office. They treat me as one of their own. April was married this past weekend and we have been talking about if for months. I will miss her and Marlena, who is home taking care of her children. As she left, April came over and gave me a big hug and kiss. That’s really all I needed for my last day.