After much thought, my endorsement for the Pennsylvania 156th District House of Representatives goes to Barbara McIlvaine Smith. I was initially impressed by her forthrightness and engaging mannerisms when she stopped over at my home this past Saturday afternoon. Effortlessly, she charmed my normally shy granddaughter -- not by catering to her with showmanship, but by having a relaxed and inviting personality. We spoke about some subjects which I know well enough to recognize when someone is just repeating key phrases, and when someone actually knows enough to speak intelligently, which is what Smith did. When we reached a point outside of her knowledge area, she candidly informed me of that fact and did not attempt to "snow" me, which I appreciated.
Researching her background, I learned that Smith has always been a native of Chester County. I reviewed her resume; she attended public high school, then went on to West Chester University. She has held a wide variety of jobs, from part-time clerical, to full-time educator, to Vice President of a small business, to State Representative. She had to work to get where she is today. I can identify with her background and her willingness to push forward.
I admire the fact that she consistently puts her entire expense report online, available for anyone to see and question; this is a rarity among our representatives. Our legislature should be transparent, where the public that is served is able to see what our legislators are doing and at what cost. Smith gets this. She also donated her 2009 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) to local charitable organizations.
Smith has an extensive history of volunteerism with a wide variety of worthy organizations, both before her entry into politics and afterwards as well. She has received endorsements from both the Sierra Club and the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania for her work in protecting the environment.
Moreover, she is ready, willing and able to work to work. When she spouse died passed away during her term of office, she only missed three legislative session working days before putting the needs of her constituency ahead of her own personal needs. She later had announced she would not seek a subsequent term, but as fate has it, her intended replacement withdrew from the race due to health reasons and asked her to seek a third term. My own opinion is that Smith might not have been ready to seek a third term so soon after losing her spouse of thirty-five years, but she is ready now. Vibrant and rejuvenated, Smith is ready to continue her work in Harrisburg.