Susan Spicka of Shippensburg plans to continue involvement in the local community and political process after losing the race for representative of Pennsylvania’s 89th district to Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Chambersburg.
Between the two counties in the 89th district, Kauffman received 18,156 votes to Spicka’s 11,806.
It was especially close in Cumberland County where Spicka was just 12 votes short of Kauffman’s 2,821 according to the Pennsylvania Department of State election returns website.
A mother of two, she came together with other parents in the community and organized to advocate for adequate funding for public schools after Gov. Tom Corbett announced that he planned to cut funding for K-12 and higher education in Pennsylvania.
They wrote hundreds of letters and emails to Rep. Kauffman asking him to make public education his top priority. Kauffman told them there were simply no funds available to restore the cuts. Spicka studied the budget herself and concluded that there were funds available, but they were being spent on other priorities, which inspired her to run for office.
“State legislators in south-central Pennsylvania almost always run unopposed,” Spicka said. “This means that they are absolutely unaccountable to their constituents and that they can vote however they’d like without having any fear that they might lose their jobs.”
Spicka’s candidacy began in late 2011 with rounding up signatures to get her name on the ballot; organizing a comprehensive campaign; generating name recognition; contacting more than 20,000 potential voters through knocking on doors and making phone calls; creating press releases; writing letters; mailing voters and running radio ads all with the help of volunteers.
On the campaign trail, Spicka personally knocked on more than 500 doors, and talked to people from all over the political spectrum. She said most people were kind and she gained a lot of new perspectives on how to address problems in Harrisburg.
“I came to understand very clearly that most people want the same things,” she said. “They want to live in a community that is safe and has a good quality of life. They want their children and grandchildren to have opportunities to have a bright future. They want to know that they will be financially secure and not have to worry as they grow older that they will be unable to live independently.”
Spicka said people who support the causes she represents can continue to make a difference by staying involved in the voting process; letting their voices be heard by elected officials including Rep. Kauffman through phone calls, letters and emails; writing letters to the editor in local newspapers and simply talking about important issues with their friends and neighbors.
“I hope that SU students will continue to stay involved and informed about what is happening in our state and national government,” she said. “Our governor and state legislators’ decisions to fund, or de-fund, the State System of Higher Education will directly impact their pocketbooks and their opportunities for learning in small classes with qualified faculty members teaching them.”
Spicka said she was humbled and honored to receive the vote of so many people in the 89th district and that she will forever be grateful for the generosity and hard work of her supporters and volunteers.
Her campaign team is regrouping to build on the momentum generated over the last year, but Spicka is unsure about what exactly the future holds for her political future. She is in the process of reconnecting with public education advocates from around the state so they can coordinate their efforts to advocate for the restoration of funding to public schools. Despite the loss, Spicka feels she started an important conversation in the district and she will continue to work for her causes.
“We have given people a voice in this area that has never existed before,” she said. “Now, instead of complaining about bad decisions our legislators make, we can raise our voices together and question them. It is exciting to look to the future. I am so very proud of the campaign we ran and of every person who helped us.”