If you don’t want to hear about some good politicians (legislators), stop right here. As a lobbyist for rural schools for about 35 years, I believe that I have some perspective on some of the personalities and performances of a passle of people. I have just about heard everything over that time. I have listened to passionate speeches about democracy. I have heard anti-Semitic threats at an education committee meeting. I have heard racist’s remarks, mysoginistic remarks, many stupid conversations and a bunch of crap that no one has listened to.
Putting all of that aside, there are those who are sincere in their efforts to make things better for their constituents. I have been fortunate to know some of them and worked with quite a few. If there weren’t such people, things would be even worse than they are.
Kevin Shreiber is a young man a newish delegate, from the city of York in York County, PA. He has curly blonde hair and really does look like a surfer dude. He does not even own a surf board. I believe that he is in his second or third term. The House members in PA serve 2 years and then they have to run again. As they finish one campaign, they are on to the new one. It is like that for federal congressman. I have never thought that was a good idea. You could have term limits, but let the terms be 4 years, not two.
Kevin has accomplished a great deal in his short time. Although he is a Democrat in a Republican legislature, he has been able to work across the aisle to accomplish things. His medical marijuana legislation was just passed and is on its way to the Governor’s desk. He is also a defender of public education and an advocate for the kids in York County. We need more like him.
Donna Oberlander comes from Clarion County. If that sounds familiar, it’s where our family lived for ten years. Our children went to school with Donna (she was a year behind our daughter). She is truly a defender and white knight for rural people. Her constituency is pretty much all rural. She has been in the legislature for 3 or 4 terms. She is a defender of school funding for rural schools and stands up to members of her party and the other party in their efforts to take funds away from rural schools. She has risen in the ranks of the Republican party. She is either number 4 or 5 in rank. She is the secretary of the Republican caucus.
One of the things about Donna is that her leadership is sincere and low key. She has now gathered round her some young right thinking rural Republican members. She is in the process of forming a rural legislative caucus.
I have written extensively about Senator Jim Rhoades (god rest his soul), who was a friend and a champion of rural causes. He was singular in his attempts to bring funding to rural schools. His constituency was almost all rural. He never gave up trying to make things better for rural people. He supported most of my hair brained schemes and supported entrepreneurs in his district that needed some help. He brought many jobs to his area.
Ron Cowell is one of the brightest guys that I know. He was a long time legislator and chair of the house education committee. His speeches in the house on behalf of school funding are legion. He never gave up trying to make school funding fair. He even incurred the wrath of some of the leaders of the Democratic caucus, by pushing that agenda. Even now, as a civilian, he stokes the fire of fair funding for schools.
Those are just a few of the people who made crawling the halls of the Capitol somewhat pleasant. In fact, I could name a number more of sincere, hardworking legislators who don’t deserve the acrimony heaped about the general assembly and politicians as a group.