Committee to Elect Kerith Strano Taylor to Congress
PA-05 in PA http://www.kstforcongress.com
340 Main Street
Public Phone Number: 814-446-0482
Public Email: [email protected]
Primary Election Date: 2014-05-20 General Election Date: 2014-11-04
Who am I?
I am the daughter of a working class family in Jefferson County. A beneficiary of a stellar public education provided by the Brookville Area School District, I started college at The Pennsylvania State University in 1992 at age 16. My appreciation for American government was born during the summer of 1994 when I worked for Congressman William F. Clinger, Jr. on Capitol Hill as a Lyndon Baines Johnson Congressional Intern. It led me to receive my Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Penn State in 1996. After working in government affairs in Washington D.C. for two years, I earned my law degree from the George Mason University School in 2001. Later that year, I returned to my hometown of Brookville and opened a law firm where I continue to practice family law. In 2013, I was asked by the Jefferson County Court of Common Pleas to conduct custody conciliation conferences for those families who are unrepresented by counsel. I have facilitated the settlement of over 85% of those cases, allowing families to move forward and resolve their conflicts in a timely, efficient, and civil manner.
Through my professional work and volunteer efforts, I have been offered a seat at many different policy making tables. Since 2004, I have served as Guardian ad Litem for Jefferson County, representing children who find themselves in the foster care system. I have had a seat on the Statewide Children's Roundtable since its inception in 2006. In 2011, I helped design and lead an affordable and accessible training for over 350 Guardians ad Litem and Parents’ Attorneys across the Commonwealth and I was appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to the Juvenile Court Procedural Rules Committee, where we work to improve the rules governing actions for juvenile delinquency and dependency courts.
I was elected to the Brookville Area School Board in 2011, and in 2013, was elected to serve as School Board President. I am working to change the format of school board meetings, and particularly, the way the school board interacts and engages with parents, students, teachers, staff, and citizens. I understand and embrace the transformative power of education and I hope to make all schools in the district the best they can possibly be. In 2013, I was appointed to the Federal Relations Network, a national advocacy organization that works to improve education policy.
I am an effective negotiator. I help transform the most heated disagreements into sustainable solutions. I believe that our current Congress is lacking the skills of negotiation and compromise and I wish to bring these much needed skills to Congress in 2014.
I live in Brookville with my two children, Laurin Elise and Ethan Anthony. I continue to work with my former husband in The Taylor Law Firm.
Why am I running?
As an advocate for children and families, public education, and healthy communities, I believe that Congress is broken and is failing to serve the needs of all Americans. I believe Congress can work again.
I have seen the devastation that this economic downturn is wreaking on families. I have seen intact families with both parents traveling out of state for work; relying on an extended network of family and friends to care for their children. I have seen young fathers coming home after 3 weeks working on a West Virginia gas rig to babies that do not recognize them.
When I work with these families, I have never wondered whether they were Democrats or Republicans. What I do know is that they are asking for help and the only way I can help them is by listening to what they need and then doing something about it. The hardworking men and women in Pennsylvania and across the Nation are looking for leaders that will help them regain their voice in their Democracy.
Pennsylvanians and citizens across the nation deserve a Representative who is going to fight for all of us; not work to protect big business and special interests. We deserve a government who will support our working families by raising the minimum wage, barring discrimination based on gender or sexual identity, spurring innovation, investing in our infrastructure and supporting our public schools. We need to focus on legislation that helps small businesses on Main Street; not Wall Street.
We deserve a representative who will represent ALL the voices of our district. The problems of unemployment, struggling schools, and broken families are not Democratic or Republican struggles. They are our struggles; Democrat and Republican alike. Until we elect Representatives that listen to the needs of our entire districts, and who will do the work that helps children and families, we will be forced to continue this struggle.
We can do better than this. We deserve better than this.
Together, we can get this Congress back to work. We need to be united and organized. We must work together to rebuild the foundation of our American Dreams. That is why I am running for U.S. Congress. I have dedicated my life to amplifying the voices of the unheard and I would be humbled to continue that service on behalf of my entire district and my country.
My highest priority is to enact policy that will help rebuild America's dwindling middle-class. This requires skilled diplomacy to move individual members away from the culture of division and acrimony that has prevented the body from doing the work of the American people and towards a culture of negotiation and compromise. Our democracy only works when our representatives work to find sustainable solutions to our challenges. When either side legislates or stagnates by might, they ignore the voices of the unrepresented in the fray. Unfortunately, this is precisely the America that John Adams predicted would arise without vigilant attention to the risk.
Many, many factors are contributing to this slide into obsolescence; Citizen's United and McCutcheon, gerrymandering, over 50 votes to defund or repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the October shutdown that cost us over $250 million in direct costs to prevent employees from going to work every day to do the work of our Government.
There is a long list of legislation that is needed to begin the rebuild the American middle class. We must undo Citizens United and McCutcheon. We must pass legislation that establishes a livable wage. We must close the ACA coverage gap for the working poor who are governed by those who have refused the Medicaid expansion. We must pass the Equal Pay legislation to prohibit gender discrimination for equal work. I will personally champion a bill that would make the "rehoming" of adopted children across state lines a federal crime.
I have honed my negotiation skills in the trenches of family law, representing foster children and more recently, on my school board. Before I was elected to my school board, Brookville survived two school strikes in roughly five years. The anti-teacher climate was palpable. Last year, the Board passed two of our three contracts with unanimous votes. I was elected as President of the school board that fall. Negotiation and compromise is an art.
I understand that the wheels of government grind slowly. I understand that this is an ambitious list of goals. But until we wrest the power and control from the wealthy few and reclaim the reins of our Government for the citizens, not a single item on this list, or any other candidate's list, with all due respect, has any hope of coming to fruition.
My DFA Values
I thought I had achieved the American dream. The product of a stellar public education, I attended college with the help of low-interest student loans. I obtained my law degree. I purchased my own home. I own my own small business.
Not everyone has had the same opportunities as I had.
As a younger woman, I assumed that I would raise my children in a strong community where good jobs were plentiful; where no person struggled to feed their children. I assumed that my country would lead the world in equal opportunity for all citizens regardless of their race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. I assumed that every American would go to the polls, tagging their children along with them like my Mother did with me, and vote in every election to ensure their voice was heard in our Democracy.
Yet, good, family-sustaining jobs are scarce. Our major employers are laying off employees. Our once burgeoning industry is waning. 165 families in my town of 3,800 rely on the food bank to feed their families. Fewer and fewer people are participating in their democracy by voting in their elections.
Strong communities build strong nations. Our role in the world was compromised when we led our partners and allies into an unjustifiable war in Iraq. Now, with real threats on the horizon, Syria and President Putin’s threats against Ukraine and the Crimea, our ability to broker resolutions through strong diplomacy have been hindered. We must rebuild the strength of our Nation from the inside out to reclaim the role we once held in our global community and then we must be vigilant to not abuse the power as we have in the past. Until we begin to invest in education, especially early childhood education, and empower our youth to take on new challenges and equip them with the skills to do so, we will continue down the path of isolation. Until we raise the minimum wage to rebuild our dwindling middle class, we will continue to be beholden to the whims and motivations of our bankers, i.e. China.
When we are beholden to the concerns of other nations because we have vested them a role and a stake in our politics by mismanaging our own budgets, our liberties are directly corrupted. We have allowed an isolationist minority to deftly and persistently erode the liberties that we once held dear. We have become a nation of scapegoaters. We have allowed the conservative right to hijack our liberties in the name of patriotism. We allow invasions into our privacy like the FISA Courts and NSA surveillance in the name of “national security” and “anti-terrorism.” Women are suffering an erosion of their liberties to make determinations about their health care choices in the name of “protecting the unborn.” We are experiencing a growing xenophobia in the name of “America.” We are hearing debates over secession.
This is not my America.
My Campaign is People Powered!
People and their commitments are the reason that I got into this race. During the shutdown, one of my clients asked me whether he should report for his National Guard duty where he was not sure if we was going to be paid or take an opportunity to work time and a half at his place of work that weekend. I said, "You must serve your National Guard duty, you made a commitment to your country." He asked, “What about the commitment they made to me?" Of course, he kept his commitment to serve, but I kept thinking about the word commitment and the people that make them every day.
People are making commitments to their families, to their community and to their country. It is an important thing to commit to something. I am committed to making the lives of the people of the Fifth District better and I am honored by the dozens of people that have committed themselves to my efforts. They have done this through door-knocking, phone calling and contributing financially. Groups like the National Organization for Women are committed to progressive values and I am proud to have their support. These people keep me going on days when the campaign trail is not so easy. I remain committed to them and the values necessary to build a better community, a stronger state and resilient country and I will do right by them.
This campaign will be about educating the electorate and becoming familiar with their needs. We have been gaining momentum and building an organization that is ready to serve the communities across the district. I have knocked on many doors in my district and plan to knock many more doors through Election Day. Just like the Guardsman, I intend to keep my commitment to him and all citizens by advocating for meaningful change in Pennsylvania. In the remaining weeks of the election, volunteers will be knocking on doors and making phone calls to speak with voters and hear their stories of why we need change in Washington. This race is about making a commitment to hardworking men and women and justly serving their needs in the U.S. House of Representatives. Every citizen deserves to feel a part of the organization that we’re building to improve their lives. Together, with hard work and resolve, we can accomplish anything.