A suburban state House district race has gotten national attention for sign-stealing, and not the kind that got the Houston Astros in hot water.
Incumbent Rep. Melissa Shusterman (D-Paoli) accused supporters of Republican challenger Sarah Marvin of taking signs from people’s lawns and properties in Tredyffrin Township. Marvin accused Shusterman supporters of coming to her parents’ house in Chester County and attempting to intimidate her through them. Both candidates denied involvement in the alleged activities.
Shusterman is vying for a third term to serve communities in Delaware and Chester Counties. The former TV executive said she is meeting enthusiastic voters when door-knocking who have expressed concerns over reproductive rights and spending – or lack thereof – in Harrisburg.
“We have money in the coffers, in the billions, [that] has people concerned about where are they in the budget,” she said in an interview. “It gives us an opportunity to speak to people and let them know what we’re working on, what we’re looking to achieve, and what we’ve achieved.”
Marvin, a mother of four who left teaching to open a tutoring company and home-school her children, told the Delaware Valley Journal she is concerned about what children learn in public schools. Specifically, she took exception to the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District paying Pacific Educational Group $12,000 in the spring of 2019 to provide curriculum on Critical Race Theory.
Marvin saw an opportunity to better support the students she tutored, who are so overwhelmed by the presence of societal issues emphasized at school that they are unable to focus on academic studies.
“My primary concern was students were starting to not meet their benchmarks and certain ideologies were being taught in the schools, and some of it contrary to what some of the families that I had spoken to and my own family thought were appropriate for in-school learning in a public setting,” she said. “So I had spoken at school board meetings and I felt my voice wasn’t being heard. COVID came and that really motivated me, even more, to get off the sidelines, so to speak, and into the action.”
While both candidates graduated from Conestoga High School, Shusterman said she believes the General Assembly doesn’t have as much of a role in local education. However, she did mention local students advocating for an anti-vaping curriculum with her in Harrisburg.
Shusterman lists her major wins as bipartisan-supported bills to help food banks secure merchandise from grocery stores that were past sell-by dates but still considered edible, and extending support for those with intellectual disabilities and autism up to age 21. She is looking forward to continuing the childcare tax credit she passed with Rep. Tina Davis (D-Bucks).
“What we’re finding out at all levels of economic background, is our constituents are suffering because it’s hard to find daycare and childcare, not just find it but afford it,” she said.
Marvin said the biggest issue voters she met discussed was the economy, from rising gas prices to supply and staffing shortages at takeout restaurants. Both candidates have suggested solutions to inflation. While Shusterman hopes to pass statewide refund checks that have stalled in the legislature, Marvin wants to see lower taxes for individuals and businesses.
As a small business owner, Marvin emphasized her disagreement with the controversial business shutdowns issued at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
“Shutting us down was crippling,” she said. “We need to look at some of the [state] regulations which are very old and outdated, that no longer apply, and however create barriers for new business owners and existing business owners that are looking to expand and grow their businesses.”
She supports replacing antiquated regulations with new ones, without adding to the total number on the books.