The 75th Pennsylvania House District includes all of Elk and parts of Clearfield County, including DuBois.
Ryan Grimm is the Democratic candidate running for this seat against Republican Mike Armanini. We brought you a conversation with Armanini yesterday.
There is no incumbent. Matt Gabler, who had represented the 75th district since 2008, decided not to run for reelection.
Ryan Grimm lives in St. Marys and graduated from Slippery Rock University with a degree in environmental studies. He works at the Elk County Conservation District as a Resource Conservation Technician.
Ryan Grimm, thanks for talking with us.
Not a problem.
Emily Reddy: So, you're just 27. Do you think your experience in conservation or in other parts of your life prepares you to be a state representative? And how?
Ryan Grimm: Um, yes, I believe so. Just because I get an accessible feel for the community, through my job. I get to meet a lot of people and see the inner workings of all the townships and all the boroughs. I've also done a lot of other jobs from construction to working in a chemistry lab for PPG Paints. So I believe that I can bridge the gap from the laborers, to the scientists, to the desk workers, and really be able to put myself in their shoes and hear and address the problems that they face.
Emily Reddy: And what do you believe -- maybe you've heard it from them -- what do you believe is the most important challenge facing the 75th district? And what, specifically, would you do about it?
Ryan Grimm: So our younger people are leaving left and right. A lot of our area doesn't have rural broadband. That's a huge deterrent from some of the jobs that these people are leaving school with. So if we don't have the infrastructure to even entertain the thought of bringing those jobs here, obviously, we lose people that way. Another way we want to try to make it easier for younger people to stay here is look at some of the loaning programs that are afforded in our area. The first time homebuyers program sounds good on paper. But when you actually go to enter that program, there are tons of hoops. It's... my wife and I, when we bought our first house, we technically made too much money by like three grand. And we have no equity because we're up and coming. It's really a deterrent. And it forces a lot of younger people to head to the cities and just rent an apartment where they can make more money, even though cost of living is lower in the 75th district than it would be in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, what have you. So being able to kind of do a holistic approach on the financials, the infrastructure and education for our younger people is a huge priority for us.
Emily Reddy: Pennsylvania, like many states, has been hit hard by COVID-19. What do you think about the state government's response to the crisis so far?
Ryan Grimm: I don't envy anybody in the state government right now, or federal, or any sort of public office just due to the pandemic. But I'm obviously a huge fan of our numbers being low. I think some moves were boneheaded. And no one was using their common sense. But I also believe that a lot of the moves were intended for the well being of the Commonwealth. I mean, obviously, it's easy to nitpick now. But...
Emily Reddy: Well, I'll ask you to nitpick. What would you have done differently? You know, what do you think would have served Elk and Clearfield County better?
Ryan Grimm: I would have sat down with our local business owners and kind of just said, Hey, we got to do something. We can't just go willy nilly, but what's a reasonable thing that we can be doing to help you guys that won't break your bank by instituting these solutions, but also, we need to be proactive in fighting this pandemic. Instead, they kind of just went haywire and made random rules that seemed like they were so easy to maneuver around that everybody was like, well, this is kind of silly. It just seemed like no one was really listening to the smaller business owners, and things like that. Where I feel like that was a flaw. I would have done differently. At least hearing what these people had to say.
Emily Reddy: Another thing that's been happening recently is these protests for racial justice and against police brutality nationwide. You spoke at one in St. Marys. Are there changes you would make as a state representative to address these issues? And if so, what are they?
Ryan Grimm: We're fortunate in our area. We haven't had this issue arise. But I've not only spoke at a racial justice rally, but I also attended a pro police rally. Yesterday, actually. And something that a lot of people aren't doing is listening to what is making each side angry right now. And as someone who's firsthand sat through both of these events, everybody's striving for the same thing. No one likes the bad apples that are in the tree. And we want do everything to help mitigate those issues on both sides.
Emily Reddy: If you were a state representative, do you think that there are, you know, is there legislation that you would push that could make a difference for people of color, for law enforcement?
Ryan Grimm: So one of the major things that the movement has been pushing -- banning certain chokeholds, no knock warrants, things like that. I would definitely support adjusting those policies. It seems like an easy fix. And if that's what the people that are on the front lines are deeming as the issues, then it seems like a no brainer.
Emily Reddy: Is there any other legislation that would be a top priority for you, if you were elected?
Ryan Grimm: Getting the rural broadband to our area is just... we'd be 110% behind that. But also, any bill moving forward that would mandate more and a higher quality care, health care in our rural areas. We're seeing a huge problem with people having to drive an hour, hour and a half daily to receive things like chemo. To us an hour, hour and a half doesn't seem... it seems like an OK trip. But to do it daily, for a life saving procedure, is not acceptable. So we'd be moving towards gaining any sort of traction to get better and more healthcare options in our area.
Emily Reddy: Ryan Grimm, thanks for talking with us.
Ryan Grimm: Thank you.
Emily Reddy: Ryan Grimm is the Democratic candidate for the 75th State House District. We talked with his competitor Mike Armanini yesterday. You can find that interview and more information about this year's general election at WPSU.org/vote. I'm Emily Reddy, WPSU.