Margie Brown has plenty of ideas as part of her campaign for the state senate’s 25th seat. From affordable and accessible healthcare to expanding broadband for state residents, the list goes on.
What her ideas all have in common, though, is that to Brown, they represent the best interests of rural Pennsylvanians, a group she feels politicians — both Democrats and Republicans — in Harrisburg have forgotten.
And that’s central to why she feels, even as a Democrat in a sharply conservative district, that voters should hear her out. Brown is the lone Democrat in Tuesday’s primary for the state senate’s 25th District, being vacated by Joe Scarnati at the end of his term, after which she’ll presumably go on to face the winner of three Republicans: state representative Cris Dush, DuBois City Manager Herm Suplizio and longtime educator Dr. Jim Brown.
“The (Senate Democratic Campaign Committee) called me, and we had a discussion and I sort of knew what I was up against. Twenty-five percent of the vote went to the last Democrat who ran for this seat (Jerri Buchanan),” Brown said. “To me, it doesn’t matter as much as trying to make the changes needed to make this a competitive district, one that both parties in Harrisburg will pay attention to.”
To make this a “more competitive district” Brown highlights a few key goals: more affordable and accessible health care locally, better broadband access, an increase in tourism and economic recovery.
The journalist-turned-educator and current St. Marys City Council member contends that this section of Pennsylvania hasn’t experienced the recoveries that other, more urban areas in the state have.
“Even before the pandemic, we had problems with that,” she said. “We never saw the bounce they saw during the dot-com bubble and the bounce (former president Barack) Obama talked about; we never saw it in the same way. So economic recovery is even more important now.”
To achieve this, Brown has a few steps in mind, among them being better broadband access, the simultaneous decriminalization and legalization of marijuana and an increase in tourism locally, which she says all tie together into a shared goal.
She is also a firm believer in boosting small businesses, as well as antitrust laws and fair taxing, including on e-commerce.
The issue she’s perhaps most passionate about, though, is achieving more accessible and affordable healthcare for rural Pennsylvanians.
“I live in a place where I hear a (medical) helicopter over my house constantly, because everybody gets shifted to a hub (such as DuBois) or Pittsburgh,” she said. “I talked to an economist last summer and the plan that they had for rural healthcare was basically to make it a triage, with hospice and small procedures (at rural hospitals) and everything else shifted to a hub or main hospital in Pittsburgh.
“I said that’s not good enough.”
She highlighted the closure of the maternity ward at the Bradford Regional Medical Center as one example of the shift away from rural care.
“We have things that just aren’t available,” she said.
She also wishes to increase civic engagement locally and to get more constituents paying attention to matters outside of Washington, D.C., and Harrisburg.
She lamented, “When I announced I was running, some people thought it meant I was going to Washington. We don’t pay attention to some of these seats that affect us the most.”
She also speaks poorly of lobbying and special interests at all levels of government.
“I feel like there is too much money working against the average person,” she said. “That’s all because somebody is getting something for their money. They’re putting money into (the state government) level, because they get something for that money and I think that’s wrong.”
And by changing all of that, she feels the 25th District can become a better place.
“It’s all about rural Pennsylvania,” she concluded.