A lifelong belief in our system of government of, by, and for the people and the settling of the dust after the 2016 election have informed my decision to seek the office of State Representative for the 44th Legislative District in Pennsylvania. Roles as student, wife, mother, teacher, employee, volunteer, and advocate have given me a broad perspective into the needs and issues effecting the quality of life for constituents in the district. Now is the time for me to give back to the country and society that have provided me with a good life and wonderful opportunities personally and professionally.

My priorities are: jobs, education, fiscal responsibility, health care, the environment and women’s role in government. As an educator in elementary schools, preschools and university level, as well as serving as School Board Director some 20 years ago, I understand the needs of students and educators and the concerns of parents from academics to health care issues. Experiences ranging from setting up gardens in the inner city with students and the community, to education for children with disabilities and preexisting conditions have given me a unique perspective on the underserved in our society. Advocating for families so that supports for both child and adult education will lead to future meaningful employment is critical for the future, and overall welfare of our region. Jobs in new developing technology and service industries must be identified in light of societal changes. As technological advances are replacing manufacturing and mill jobs, investment benefits not only our economy but the people of this district.

Fiscal responsibility and balancing the state budget need to be addressed, especially as they effect health care and the environment. The Affordable Care Act and Medicaid program provide crucial monies for the health of our children, our elderly, and our veterans. The hourly minimum wage of $7.25 qualifies a significant number of our residents for Medicaid. Our elderly in nursing homes rely on Medicaid once their funds are exhausted. Our Veterans must seek services outside the VA programs. Our children and adults with disabilities rely on Medicaid not only for medical services but for transportation and housing expenses which allow them to work and live independently.

I believe being well informed about environmental issues and concerned about changes in Washington and how they will effect states negatively is essential. We need to adequately fund and staff the Department of Environmental Protection in the State of Pennsylvania. The DEP is currently understaffed for the tasks they are expected to carry out. With 30% of their budget coming through block grants from the US EPA, the DEP could find itself totally unable to cope with the challenges to Pennsylvania’s clean air, water, and waste disposal infrastructure.

As the mother of three grown daughters, I have an appreciation and expectation that young women in our district also have similar diverse professional opportunities. Each of my daughters proudly contributes to society in the areas of Environmental Affairs in a multinational corporation, as the Lead Operations Manager for a mother to mother mentoring program, and the Computer Center Supervisor for a suburban library in Allegheny County. Special attention in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math is needed for us to ensure that young women continue to have access to opportunities in whatever fields they choose.

I am ready to tackle a host of issues, such as education, the economy, the environment, and veterans affairs. These are all issues that the current administration in Washington is in the process of dismantling with great prejudice. Being in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly will give me the ability to directly influence, for the good and welfare of the people, legislation that impacts Pennsylvania and the nation that is imbued with Democratic principles.

Michele Knoll