I had no idea what to expect when I was told I’d won the barbecue contest and would attending Tom and Frances Wolf’s annual backyard barbecue -- but I knew that it would be something memorable.
The first thing I noticed was that it was a small, intimate gathering of what turned out to be some really amazing people. Family and friends of Tom, neighbors, and of course other contest winners. I had the opportunity to speak with Tom at length about the November election and how important it will be for the commonwealth.
Yesterday, Tom was in Bucks County where he stopped by Advent Design to discuss manufacturing, education, and workforce development.
Advent Design, a manufacturing and design company in Bristol, is a Pennsylvania success story, and like Tom, they are vocal proponents of American and local manufacturing. After the tour, Tom had an opportunity to describe Advent's ingenuity:
"They're designing processes here that make America competitive with the rest of the world. In fact, we can beat the rest of the world...and its not just patriotism they're appealing to – they're competing on price, on quality, on everything."
For the fourth year in a row, children across Pennsylvania are headed back to schools that lack the resources needed to give students an education that will allow them to compete in the ever-changing, modern economy.
Pennsylvania schools are suffering from Governor Corbett's misguided $1 billion cuts that have resulted in higher property taxes, 27,000 layoffs, increased class sizes, and the reduction of valuable programs such as pre-kindergarten and full-day kindergarten.
This week, new video surfaced of Governor Corbett once again offering his opinion on women’s issues, which, according to him, include quicker dinner preparation.
Huffington Post, Philadelphia Magazine, and Talking Points Memo all reported on Corbett’s latest gaffe regarding women’s equality, just the latest in a long history of demeaning comments and damaging policies from the governor.
A report last year from the Center for American Progress offered some alarming statistics about the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the way it treats the six million women who live here, assigning us a "C-" grade and ranking our state 28th in the nation on women's rights.
In just a couple of weeks, my seven-year-old son Elijah will be starting second grade at a Philadelphia public school. As a parent, I am worried not only about the quality of the education he will receive, but also his safety.
We were happy to hear that the Philadelphia public schools would be opened on time, but with so many additional cuts to hall monitors, school nurses, transportation, school janitors, and school police, what kind of schools will our children be attending in September?
Over the past four years, Governor Corbett's $1 billion education cuts have led to increased property taxes, massive layoffs, larger class sizes, and the elimination of valuable programs. Meanwhile, Governor Corbett refuses to implement a reasonable 5 percent severance tax that will help fund all of Pennsylvania's schools.
After four years of underfunding our schools, Governor Corbett continues to play political games while still avoiding the tough decisions. Governor Corbett's misplaced priorities have decimated schools across Pennsylvania.
This week the Wolf campaign opened a new field office in Johnstown to help get out the vote in Blair, Bedford, Cambria, Indiana Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset Counties this November.
The launch of the new office gave the campaign field staff the opportunity to meet supporters from around the area and supporters the opportunity to meet Tom in person.
The space being used for this office is well known in the area for being used as a campaign base. Congressman Mark Critz used the space as his campaign office during the special election to replace Congressman John Murtha, who first used the office before Critz.
Dr. Lorna Johns has been a Republican since she first registered to vote more than 40 years ago. She votes in every election, but this year’s governor race is the first time in her life she has actively involved herself in the political process -- and she’s standing with Tom Wolf.
As an education professional, Lorna has seen first hand the devastation caused by Governor Corbett’s extreme cuts to education in Pennsylvania.
On his Fresh Start tour Monday, Tom stopped in Pittston to visit Interstate Building Products' manufacturing facility, Interstate Window & Door.
Interstate Window & Door is the largest window and door manufacturer in the Mid-Atlantic region -- and is also a customer of the Wolf Organization. The relationship between the two companies dates back to the mid-1990s, when the Wolf Organization supplied Interstate with kitchen and bath cabinets. Today, the Wolf Organization supplies Interstate with different types of PVC boards and trim as well as TruExterior Board.
While meeting employees and learning about Interstate's manufacturing processes, Tom discussed his belief that Pennsylvania can lead the nation in manufacturing.
Retired Brigadier General Frank J. Sullivan has spent his career serving our country and the state of Pennsylvania -- and he believes it is time for the veterans of Pennsylvania to help elect a governor who will fight for them and their families.
Frank has been a registered Republican for over 20 years. This election year, however, he is not only committed to voting for Tom Wolf, but he is also playing an active role in the campaign by mobilizing veterans and sharing Tom's plan to create a better quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.
Tom was back in Pittsburgh again on Monday as part of his Fresh Start tour. His latest stop landed him at TechShop, a community-based workshop and prototyping studio whose mission is to democratize access to the tools of innovation; in simpler terms, TechShop is a do-it-yourself workshop where innovators and entrepreneurs can build things.
TechShop offers a variety of workspace options including metalwork, woodwork, electronics, textiles, 3D printing, and bicycle repair. The ingenuity that is taking place inside their walls is helping fuel the maker movement in Pittsburgh and revitalize the important start-up sector of the thriving city.
Before Tom ever joined the Peace Corps, earned his Ph.D., and built the Wolf Organization into the largest distributor of kitchen cabinets in the country, he wanted to be a professional baseball player. That dream faded, but last week Tom revisited his old passion during a tour of Chandler Bats in Norristown, where he learned about manufacturing baseball bats.
Founded in 2010, Chandler Bats quickly became a local business success story and now manufactures hundreds of models of baseball bats for Major League Baseball players as well as players in the minor leagues, college, and high school. Chandler bats are unique in their quality -- they are compressed to a degree that compacts the wood tighter than any of their competitors, making them stand apart in performance and durability. And they are made right here in Pennsylvania.
For Rachel Sonnet, a 21-year-old college student from Emsworth, Pennsylvania, working to elect Tom Wolf as a finance intern is personal.
Rachel's family is one of the thousands in Pennsylvania who have been affected by Governor Corbett's refusal to expand Medicaid. As a result of Corbett's policies, 500,000 currently uninsured, middle and low-income Pennsylvanians have been blocked from accessing affordable health care, including Rachel's 61-year-old father.
"My father is currently recovering from a stroke in a nursing home. Because he was uninsured when he had the stroke almost a year ago, it was a struggle for our family to afford the hospital bills and secure health insurance. Tom Wolf's proposal to expand health insurance coverage in Pennsylvania would help my family and thousands of others."
Former Carnegie Mellon students Arden Rosenblatt and Alejandro Sklar didn't have to head to Silicon Valley to make their tech startup dream a reality. Instead, the young entrepreneurs were able to launch their company right from Pittsburgh, which has become an exciting hub of high-tech innovation in Pennsylvania.
Yesterday, Tom visited Arden and Alejandro's company PieceMaker and other innovative startups at AlphaLab Gear, an incubator for local tech entrepreneurs, as part of his Fresh Start tour of the state.
Natasha del Amo is one of our youngest and most promising interns -- her sharpness far exceeds her 18 (she would say almost 19) years.
Interning with our political department, Natasha has acquired a special kind of skill set that isn't necessarily teachable at a University, as the department's role on the campaign is to coordinate many different types of personalities, egos, motives, and situations. Despite this being her first campaign experience, Natasha has shown the political team that she is more than ready to take on the tasks presented to her, and she has quickly become a consistently relied-upon member.
We got a chance to chat with Natasha about her background, interests, and aspirations -- check out the conversation:
Yesterday, Tom stopped by the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, an organization in Philadelphia that focuses on economic development through job training and small business development. Since 2003, when Irish immigrant Anne O'Callaghan opened the center, the Welcoming Center has assisted more than 10,000 people from over 140 countries.
While there, Tom met Arlene Kaufman, who just last year launched a new Philadelphia-area business called Karma Krisps that makes fruit and nut crackers.
The evolution of Arlene's business is truly a Pennsylvania success story. While on a ski trip with her family, Arlene tasted crackers that she thought were so amazing that she was inspired to create her own cracker company.
Reality shows our state's economy in free-fall as a result of Governor Corbett's failed leadership. While our public school system suffers from the Governor's misguided cuts, and middle-class families struggle, Governor Corbett refuses to make oil and gas companies pay their fair share by passing a responsible and reasonable severance tax on natural gas now.
While Governor Corbett lets oil and gas companies off the hook, lawmakers in Harrisburg are facing a $1.4 billion deficit and they are struggling to balance a budget without making massive cuts. Governor Corbett has proposed gimmicks and one-time revenue sources based on loose projections to fix his mess. This is in direct contrast with what he said only a little over three years ago:
"…"[W]e have to change the culture of this place. It means we stop the one-time fixes and gimmicks that have barely held the machine of government together."