Find a Candidate You Believe In and Work to Get Them Elected
Sept. 10, Bethlehem, Pa. – Students, seniors, laborers, public officials, judges, working parents and minorities listened but weren’t silent during Amy Zanelli’s “Progress in Politics” panel discussion this Sunday in Allentown.
The gathering of powerful advocates for equality, minorities, and women in politics held the attention of the over 100 participants for two hours, detailing their personal stories, inspiration for becoming active in grassroots politics and their encouragement to get involved in local government.
Zanelli, the Democratic candidate for Lehigh County Commissioner District 3, organized the event to spotlight the common issues shared by the panel which was made up of five women – two judges, a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature, a city councilwoman and a school board candidate —who all have seen their political careers grow through grassroots advocacy.
“You need to find a candidate you believe in and work for them. That’s what is going to change the Democratic Party into the one you can be proud of and one that listens,” Zanelli said.
Moravian College Professor Dr. Trisha Moller moderated the discussion that covered equal pay, workplace equality, grassroots politics, getting involved with local government, the Pennsylvania court system, sexual assault on campuses, political complacency and minimum wage, all challenges facing women and minorities as they take on leadership roles in their communities.
Pennsylvania Representative Maureen Madden said, “Grassroots is the foundation. All politics is local. There is something everyone in this room can do to get someone elected. Make phone calls, put yard signs in their yard, you can throw house parties. You don’t have to call and ask people to vote, you don’t have to door knock if that’s not your thing but you have to find out who your candidates are on a local level, a state level, on a federal level and you have to work because grassroots is where it’s at.” Madden, an educator from Monroe County, was elected in 2016 to represent the 115th Legislative District in Pennsylvania.
“Grassroots politics is where it’s at,” said Judge Maria McLaughlin. “We are so thankful for everything you are doing. Latching onto Amy and everyone up here because that is what you have to do to win statewide.” Judge McLaughlin sits on the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, First Judicial District. She is seeking a seat on the Pennsylvania Superior Court.
“It’s hard but you have to get yourself in the positions of city council and school board and township supervisor and township commission. You need to have a voice,” said Judge Ellen Ceisler. “It starts by gaining power at the local level and I encourage every woman to find the support networks they need and for us to help each other.” Judge Ceisler, currently serving on the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia, is seeking a seat on the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court.
Alisa Bowman, LGBTQ activist and candidate for East Penn School Board, talked about how workplace equality led her to quit her job and start her own business. “We can’t become self-employed if we don’t have health care. Equal pay for women involves more than just money,” Bowman said. “We need to fight for better health care in conjunction with better wages.”
Bethlehem City Councilwoman Olga Negron said women must start running for office. “We have to encourage each other. We have to support each other,” she said. Speaking to the men in the audience, Negron said, “I ask all of you to keep encouraging women to run for office at all levels.”
Zanelli has been a strong supporter of labor and, as a former shop steward, has been an advocate for workplace equality, equal pay and working families. Labor groups have endorsed Zanelli and “Progress in Politics” was supported by IBEW Local 375, Insulators Local 23, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 543, and Lehigh Valley Labor Council, AFL-CIO.
Zanelli and supporters will be in Catasaqua on October 22 from 1-4pm for “Artists for Amy,” a silent auction of works by local artists such as Bobby Zeik, Charles Stonewall, Carol Heft, Gene Mater, Raven Young, Cynthia Rodriguez and others.
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