NORTHEAST PA— River Reporter reached out to Democratic candidate Meghan Rosenfeld to discuss her candidacy for Pennsylvania’s 139th District. She requested to respond to questions via …
NORTHEAST PA— River Reporter reached out to Democratic candidate Meghan Rosenfeld to discuss her candidacy for Pennsylvania’s 139th District. She requested to respond to questions via email. She is running against Marian Keegan, who is a forester, and scientist and served as a director of community conservation.
I understand you have a background in education and law, can you tell me a bit more about your background and how you feel it would serve you as a representative? Any specific experiences or strengths you think could serve you well?
I began my career in Montessori education when I was 21 years old after being awarded a full scholarship to earn my teaching credential at the Princeton Center for Teacher Education (PCTE). Immediately following my internship year, I was promoted to lead classroom teacher and had the opportunity to work alongside national leaders in Montessori education. Montessori education relies on the teacher's scientific observation of their students and responding by providing a customized curriculum to meet the immediate needs of the students. I quickly realized that my students could benefit from additional educational materials customized to their unique interests and developmental needs.
I was commissioned to develop and teach an educational material design course for PCTE, which quickly led to more leadership opportunities as a field consultant for PCTE. After six years at Princeton Montessori, I took a leadership position at Netivot Montessori in Edison, NJ. The scope of my role was quickly expanded to cover supervision of all of the school's Early Childhood programs, infant through kindergarten. These roles involved policy setting, developing curriculum, classroom design, parent education and support, teacher training, and working collaboratively with faculty, board members, and administrators. After relocating to Pennsylvania, I worked as an independent Montessori field consultant. I evaluated programs, provided teacher training, classroom design, curriculum guidance, and worked with school leadership to develop new hiring practices and evaluation procedures. Knowing that I made a positive impact through my work and elevated the quality of education is something that I'm very proud of. Meeting people where they are with empathy and openness is critical when developing a plan to address an issue regardless of the circumstance.
These skills and experiences have shaped how I interact with people and reach people where they are. Taking the time to understand an issue before making a judgment call served me well as a leader in education and will continue to be an asset in the State legislature. Having the ability to scientifically assess situations, develop and implement customized solutions, work collaboratively and lead teams are all skills that will be vital when working with fellow lawmakers.
Two years after moving to Pennsylvania, my firstborn child passed away from inoperable brain cancer at 11. I mourned his death for several years before reevaluating how I wanted to move forward with my life. Due to my own stressful experiences with divorce and child custody in the family court system, I felt strongly that I needed to use my skills to provide others with guidance and mediation as an alternative to adversarial and impersonal court battles. Helping people to mitigate hostility, retain control over their own lives and work together in the best interest of their children was something I felt was vital for me to tackle next. After graduating at the top of my class with a degree in paralegal studies and a paralegal certificate, I worked as a criminal and family law paralegal for a local attorney in Milford, PA. My work there included extensive legal research and writing, where I interpreted laws, reviewed court orders, formulated legal arguments, and worked directly with clients alongside the attorney. While immersed professionally in a law practice, I observed how those with malicious intent could abuse well-intentioned laws. This knowledge makes me hyper-aware of what safeguards need to be implemented when planning new legislation.
Your priorities for the area include infrastructure, a local hospital, education and investing in the environment. With the top priorities you have in mind, can you tell me some of the things you would do differently from the previous representative in order to achieve these goals?
To clarify, my priorities absolutely include infrastructure, investment in our environment, and improving the equity in our educational system. Of course, equitable access to healthcare also tops that list; however a local hospital is just one potential part of the overall improvements that our district deserves, including increased funding for emergency medical services, providing complete medical coverage for veterans at the provider of their choice, and advocating for universal healthcare.
Our current representative has held office for eight years. Under his leadership, our district has been neglected and left out of conversations. He could have used his seat to make a real difference in the lives of those in Wayne and Pike. I'd like to share just some of what wasn't done for our communities, whether that's due to his lack of initiative or his voting along party lines. Our Republican representative hasn't helped address our lack of access to local healthcare facilities, nor has he advocated for affordable healthcare. We desperately need loopholes in school funding legislation to be closed to ensure equitable funding for our public schools. The application of the fair school funding formula is one factor that could provide immediate property tax relief if addressed. Instead, he and the Republican majority have voted for corporate tax cuts, which historically helped fund public schools. This action has shifted the school tax burden to homeowners. State and Federal funds have been available for Rural Pennsylvania that our district has lost out on because our representative wasn't advocating for us to receive our fair share to repair our roads and bridges and provide education initiatives. Recently, along with the PA House Republicans, he voted against disbursing the remaining Covid stimulus money that would put $2,000 in the pockets of every family in Pike and Wayne making less than 80k. The House majority is actively voting against the best interests of their constituents. It's a fact that gas/oil prices are problematic. Republicans are blaming Democrats for the high prices when they, as the majority in the PA House, have the authority to vote for a gas tax holiday to provide immediate financial relief for all Pennsylvanians. Republicans are choosing to let hard-working Pennsylvanians suffer as a divisive political strategy. Most disturbing, our representative signed his name to throw out the votes of Pennsylvanians who voted by mail to overturn the 2021 election results. Throwing out votes is an attack on democracy itself and even more disgraceful than his lengthy record of inaction and neglect.
Here's what I would do differently: I will defend our democracy and advocate for every local person to address our local issues, no matter how big or small. I will put the needs of people first and work towards solutions that improve the quality of life for my neighbors. For example, I will fight for universal pre-k starting at age three and for before and after school programs in every public school to support our working families. Our representative is part of a national Republican movement to gut our Public Schools through school choice vouchers which will have a catastrophic impact on public education and slash property values. Instead, we need to invest in education at the State level, and I will fight for affordable career training and local community college opportunities for our high school graduates. When elected, we will find solutions that impact the families and taxpayers of the 139th, and we will get things done.
You're running for a seat that has long been held by the Republican Party. How do you plan to get a more progressive platform--specifically investment in the environment--to resonate with voters in this district?
Regardless of party affiliation, the people living in our district take pride in our conservation heritage, and we enjoy recreation activities specific to undisturbed woodlands and protected waterways. Much of our economy depends on maintaining and protecting our natural surroundings. I believe that clean drinking water and the beauty of our mountains, woodlands, lakes, and river are universally appreciated by residents. I don't see loving and respecting where you live as a partisan issue. Of course, other factors at play like economic development, infrastructure, job creation, property values, land owner's rights, and zoning must be given serious consideration when assessing the impact of legislation. I think there is a misconception that environmentalism and economic growth are mutually exclusive. I know that finding a balance can be challenging, which is why I plan to invite all stakeholders to the table so that we can work collaboratively to find equitable solutions that are both environmentally protective and beneficial for our local economy. Our health, our wildlife, and our economy depend on preserving our natural environment.
Reading up on your past advocacy and initiatives, it seems that much of your work has been in Pike County. Tell me about your connection to Wayne County, and if you have any plans to do campaigning specific to that county.
As background: Before moving to Milford, I was an EMS volunteer in NJ. During that time, I was a single mother who was working full time as a school administrator and I paid a sitter so that I could volunteer for my local EMS squad at night.
Making connections in Wayne is extremely important because I need to know how I can best serve that section of our community. I have several campaign advisors from Wayne county who are helping me to understand the issues that are unique to Wayne. From my experience door-knocking, I've had the opportunity to personally hear from residents, many of whom were parents who expressed the desire for affordable career training opportunities for their children. Our campaign has been calling households in Wayne daily, and we have many events scheduled in the coming months to ensure that Wayne is a significant part of the conversation. The more I get to know about what our respective communities are working towards, the better I can help everyone be a resource for each other. I have been attending the Wayne County Commissioner's meetings to stay informed about the issues that are unique to Wayne. Regardless of which side of the county line you are in, we all want the same things – to make sure our kids get the best education possible, to make sure our environment is protected, to make sure we have great paying jobs, to make sure we have affordable housing, and to make sure that we have affordable access to local healthcare.
What's something that voters might not know about you that you want them to know before heading to the polls this May?
Before moving to Pennsylvania 12 years ago, I was a registered independent and changed my party affiliation so that I could vote in primary elections. I was (and still am) tired of divisive national politics and disappointed by both political parties. I chose to get involved not because of party enthusiasm or loyalty, but because I saw that our representative and the Republican House majority have completely neglected local issues and actively trying to pass legislation that will be regressive and damaging. We need to put people first and entrust leadership to those who feel passionately about doing the right thing for our neighbors. Local government should be about local people and improving their lives, not about pushing a divisive partisan agenda.
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