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Politics and Government

Audio Diary: A Rural Democrat’s “Sacrifice Run” For The Sake Of A Competitive Race

Photo of Margie Brown in front of a tractor
Photo provided

In a presidential election year, voting may be the most visible way to try to create change.

But it's not the only way. In a three-part series from America Amplified, residents of McKean County share how they are making a difference, where they live, and beyond the ballot box.

Margie Brown is a Democrat in Elk County running in this year’s election for Pennsylvania’s 25th Senatorial District, which includes McKean County, where she grew up. 

The district, comprising eight counties in Northern Pennsylvania, has never elected a Democrat. To reach people amid the pandemic, Brown has spent a lot of time on Facebook live. 

“That's sort of my life right now, doing projects, doing interviews, running around talking to people, getting signs out there still. And, boy, this election is winding up quickly. So it's just trying to make sure I've done everything I can and not have any resources left at the end of all of this,” Brown said a week before the general election.

Brown, a City Council member in St. Marys, said the communities in the rural district have not been given their fair share, a sentiment shared by her opponent in the race, Republican Cris Dush.

“We have all of the natural splendor and wealth. But we are not a wealthy or a healthy district right now,” Brown said. “So much is taken from here, but the rewards are not returned to us. Wages are low, and the tax burden on the working and middle classes, which represent the bulk of our communities, just increased and increased.”

‘Worth fighting for’

Brown said better wages and upgraded infrastructure are “the things worth fighting for.” But more importantly, she said she’s in the run so that voters have more than one option.

“A lot of people don't pay attention to some of the elections that should matter the most. They only turn out every four years for the presidential election and they don't recognize some of the names on the ballots,” she said. “We should know who we're electing and why we're electing them.” 

“I did call this a sacrifice run,” Brown said. “It's true. We needed a name on the ballot as opposed to an uncontested race -- in 2020, an uncontested race -- that's our reality.”

Brown said she doesn’t find it bittersweet to run. 

“I already have made a difference. I already have people engaged. I think I'm already making it a more competitive race and that people are paying attention,” she said.

Min Xian produced this story for StateImpact as part of the America Amplified: Election 2020 initiative, using community engagement to inform and strengthen local, regional and national journalism. America Amplified is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. You can follow America Amplified on Twitter @amplified2020.

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