Get to Know Robert
I was born and raised near Waynesboro in Franklin County, PA, there were many mornings where I would wake up to “the smell of the country”, as we used to say in our household, knowing that the farms nearby were spreading fertilizer. My father worked for a local municipality as a Code Enforcement Officer and was also a leader of developing our municipal Parks and Recreation areas and Recycling programs. On top of this, we also had a small engine repair business by our home that my dad owned and operated, with my mom (and the rest of our family) occasionally helping out. Being the youngest of five, needless to say there were a lot of things to learn. As far back as I remember, I know the jab of barbed wire, the sound of pulling of the husk off corn, and the noise of my older brother cutting wood with an axe. By age 16, I was able to ride a horse, do some basic homesteading, fix mowers, sharpen blades, hunt animals, and lay traps. As a teenager, while receiving a great education from our public school, I was able to get a job working for minimum wage at a locally owned Dairy Queen and enroll in an early-to-college program our school offered in a partnership with Penn State. After some time, I started working at a hardware store and eventually became the first non-family member to close the store and cover shifts on the weekend. Early on, I learned and came to understand the value of hard work, dedication, and creative solutions. It was with this experience that I worked full time while attending the Penn State Mont Alto Campus in 2002. It was there that I was involved in various clubs and student government.
Before moving to State College in 2004, I worked up to 90 hours a week between two jobs to earn enough money to work my way through college. While going to school at main campus, I had to take a semester off to earn enough to pay for my tuition with loans, so I understand the fiscal cost of getting a higher education. I graduated with a B.A. in Political Science, minor in History in fall of 2005. During this time and for many years later, I became a trainer or manager within food service, hospitality, or the retail industries, leading me to have about 20 years of experience as a trainer or a manager.
In 2009, I was completing my Master’s in Business Administration and Public Administration and met the partner of my life and my wife, Melanie, while doing karaoke. I also got to meet her two boys from her previous marriage and when we moved out to Millheim Borough in 2012, we decided to have a third child. In 2013, our child was born. Over time, as my career grew and my educational growth continued, I realized I needed to be more involved in the local community for the sake of my children.
I saw within the community a variety of issues not being addressed, whether it was racial issues in the schools, the inadequate access to broadband in rural areas, or government overreach, there was nobody willing to stand up to or question these matters. Nobody was pushing things forward to make progress. There were not enough people willing to hold elected officials accountable.
In 2018, I was able to go to public meetings regularly. I would take notes, make suggestions based on personal and observed experiences, or learned from my educational experience. Instead of just complaining or highlighting problems, I highlighted potential solutions. I was appointed in summer of 2018 and elected in 2019. For the last two years, I have been the Council President. Over these last few years, we have become the 4th municipality in the state to have most (if not all) of the electric use of our municipal owned properties be generated by solar to save taxpayer money. We are the 16th municipality in Pennsylvania to pass an Anti-Corruption Resolution to call on state legislators to be accountable, responsible, and transparent. We have passed an LGBTQ+ resolution to advocate for equality. We have advocated for and gotten affordable high speed broadband speeds of up to 1 gigabit for downloads to keep our education, telehealth, and businesses sustainable and caught up to our metropolitan areas so we don’t fall behind. We have begun to reinvigorate our small business community so we can not only preserve jobs, but also generate jobs. We have started to not just govern for the people, but with the people, as it should be.
So why I am running for State Senate? I live in an area that has similar to the demographics of over half of the district (small rural municipality). I have been told many times in my life that many things weren’t possible and yet look at what we have accomplished in such a short span at the local level. We get told by legislators about how things aren’t possible or that solutions can be difficult. In these times, we need someone to advocate for the working people and push for those substantive solutions. The American Dream is to make the impossible happen for all of us to have a better tomorrow for our families, our friends, and our community. I welcome you to join us to help make that change, for a better tomorrow.
Criminal Justice and Police Reform
Our criminal justice system is broken. We are breaking up families for non-violent offenses, we put people in no-win situations where they struggle to improve, and our law enforcement lacks the accountability necessary to build trust and make our communities safer.
“As legislators and citizens, we need to not only decriminalize mental health and substance abuse, but also humanize it by making it a public health concern, not a criminal issue."
Our economy cannot work if it doesn’t work for everyone. We need the government to support policies that support workers and families by making sure they have the flexibility to care for themselves and their child, the resources to support their family, and housing to keep them secure. This means raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, establishing paid family leave, and enacting fair housing reform to end unfair housing practices.
“If you don’t support a living wage, you’re supporting a dying wage. People should never have to choose between whether to have heat, or be able to eat.”
Campaign, Election, and Legislative Reform
Our Democratic process is resilient, but it is not invincible. The past few years have proven that there are forces both within our country, and outside of it, that are attacking our ability to have our voices heard.
We need real reforms focused on protecting our right to vote, increasing transparency in our government, eliminating the dark-money that floods our campaigns every year, and stopping politicians from spending lobbyist cash on personal luxuries.
“Our government should be choosing the people over politics and corporate interests, every single time. I will advocate not only to govern for you, but with you for a better tomorrow.”
The climate crisis is one of the largest threats humanity faces. Without immediate action by our government, we face a future of extreme weather and political upheaval. Pennsylvania must be a leader in rebuilding our economy to preserve the environment without leaving those who depend on the old infrastructure for jobs.
“With environmental legislation, we need to get out of legislating like it is 1990
in order for us to make it to 2090.”