For many years, Springfield resident Nichole Missino was a nonpolitical person who registered as an independent and only voted in presidential election years.
“I thought my vote didn’t matter,” she said.
The 2020 pandemic changed that.
Missino owns Giovanni’s Media Barber Shop, which she named for her son, now 13.
“In the beginning of the pandemic, we had to shut down,” Missino said. She wanted to access relief funding so that the people who worked at the barber shop, who are independent contractors, could pay their bills.
She asked state Rep. Jennifer O’Mara (D-Springfield) for help but got nowhere.
“The state did not open that portal until the end of April,” said Missino, so her workers had no income starting when the Wolf administration ordered her to shut down in March.
“There was no real help from my Democratic legislator,” she said.
“I felt I could do better than she does,” said Missino, now a Republican and running against O’Mara. “I just want to help people.”
Missino is one of many Republican women running for office in 2022. Some 45 percent of the Pennsylvania Republican state Senate candidates are women, and 30 percent of the GOP House candidates are women.
“The state legislative candidates nominated by Pennsylvania Republicans are a true testament to the Republican Party’s commitment to electing more women leaders to public office who reflect their respected communities,” said RSLC Deputy Communications Director Mason DiPalma. “These candidates will act as a strong line of defense against Joe Biden’s destructive agenda. The only way to defend and expand our majorities is to elect diverse candidates like these so we can get our country back on track. We are excited and confident that these candidates will be successful in pushing back against Pennsylvania Democrats in Harrisburg.”
Jessica Florio is running for the state Senate, challenging Sen. Katie Muth (D-Berks/Chester/Montgomery).
“As a special education teacher, Honey Brook Borough Council president, volunteer, and leader in my community, I have seen the good that can be accomplished when we work together and put aside the political differences that separate us,” said Florio. “I decided to run for state Senate because too many people in Harrisburg, including my opponent, choose politics over doing what is right for their constituents. It is partisan and divisive when she should be finding common ground.
“Currently, the residents of the 44th District are facing the very same issues that have deeply concerned persons throughout the country: wallet-crushing inflation, a stagnating economy, rising crime, and an education system that could, and should, be doing more for our children.
“I believe in the promise of America, and I believe Pennsylvania is a great state in which to live, work and raise a family,” said Florio. “The solutions to these issues won’t be found in partisan bickering but will be found through a leader who carefully listens to and works with those on both sides of the aisle to develop solutions that address the problems we all face.
“As state Senator, I will prioritize the needs of families, small businesses, and workers trying to make ends meet and will support legislation that will improve the lives of all Pennsylvanians,” she said.
Rep. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Harleysville) is another woman with her eye on a state Senate seat. Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Bucks/Berks/Montgomery) is retiring and endorsed Pennycuick.
She said that she loves being in the legislature and serving her constituents. An Army combat veteran, she initially enlisted as a medic. Pennycuick earned a degree in business and a commission in the U.S. Army. She served as a Blackhawk pilot, including three combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Desert Storm, where she was awarded the bronze star.
Pennycuick retired as a lieutenant colonel after 26 years of service. She was a platoon leader, operations officer, company commander, aviation group safety officer, brigade human resources officer, executive officer, Department of Defense efficiency expert, and foreign liaison to the UK Ministry of Defence.
Pennycuick and her husband, Rick, who also served in the armed forces, settled in Harleysville when he was in command of the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) Philadelphia. The couple has four grown children, three serving in the military, and two grandchildren.
In the House, she has focused on education, as well as “providing our frontline heroes, families, seniors, workers, and small businesses with the support they need through the pandemic while also pushing forward important legislation that protects some of our most vulnerable populations and vital government reform.”
Missino is also a fighter.
In early May, she was going to reopen her barber shop but received threats from the police and state. So she held a rally outside it to call on the state to allow small businesses to reopen.
She put up Plexiglas dividers, stocked up on personal protective equipment (PPE), and decided to reopen her shop on May 20. The Media police chief told her he would pull her occupancy permit. She did anyway, and when a state inspector came to check out Giovanni’s, he found that she had gone over and above the state rules.
“I’ve never been on unemployment,” she said. “I’ve always been a worker.”
Missino was also active in the school district, attending board meetings to oppose requiring students to wear masks. She spoke at school board meetings and ran for the school board in Springfield as a write-in candidate.
“I’ve gotten help from the Republican Party,” she said about her run for state representative.
DiPalma said, “The diverse slate of state legislative candidates nominated by Republicans in Pennsylvania embodies the mission of the RSLC’s Right Leaders Network. Through the RSLC’s Right Women Right Now and Future Majority Project initiatives, the committee over the past decade has recruited, trained, supported, and elected thousands of diverse state Republicans across the country, many of whom went on to serve in statewide and federal offices.”