Editor’s Note: This is one of two question and answer articles with the two major party candidates for State Representative in the 160th District, which includes Kennett, Kennett Square, Pennsbury, Pocopson and Chadds Ford in the The Times’ coverage area. The responses were not edited and the text was approved by the candidates — this is an unfiltered version of their responses to the same seven questions. It was compiled by staff writer Kim Chiomento.
1. Why are you running? As an involved KCSD parent who has served as a representative on the Technology, Professional Development and Strategic Planning Committees, and has also taught at the KMS After-the-Bell Program and assisted with the EAP Tutoring Program; I have a real sense of what is going on in our schools. I am very concerned that currently 20% of our taxes are going to back paying pension funds and fewer educational options for our students.
When my son, James, came through our schools there were more hands-on classes offered like: Mechanical Engineering, Shop, Home Economics, and etc. all with a more hands-on approach to learning than offered today. I do recognize that the current STEM program fills a portion of this need; but still, the elective choices are much narrower today. Without these diverse, real-world class options, on what basis can our kids integrate their academic learning with practical, real-life applications help decide which direction they’d like to take their future? Less funding means fewer options for our kids.
I am also seeing a pattern of positions not being filled (for example, there is currently no KCSD Curriculum Supervisor) and these responsibilities then are spread out to existing administrators who are already have heavy workloads. Our class room sizes are getting larger and I am feeling that as a result of budget concerns things are simply more pieced together than they used to be. It is my opinion that the root of a lot of problems within districts, like ours, is centered in Harrisburg and it is very important that legislators see the ripple effect of their votes on districts and communities.
2. Our community is looking to elect you as a leader; what would you want our readership and voters to know about how you demonstrate leadership? I have written two books, I am the Director of Operations of the POD Camp Foundation (Digital Media) and have helped organize highly successful technology-focused conferences up and down the East Coast. In addition to organizing these conferences; I have also run many of the respective conferences’ community education sessions.
I have taught classes for DANA (Delaware Association of Non Profit Agencies); and I regularly participate in information talks for the Delaware Economic Development Council and am considered a key resource on emerging issues in e-commerce like: internet taxes, helping business owners ensure that their businesses work online and in real life, and, how to understand and optimize using search engines to effectively maximize their business’ exposure.
I helped develop the podcast show “Ob-Gyn To Go” for medical residents at Christiana Care Hospital (obgyntogo.com). Now, medical residents can partake in video podcasts so they can receive professional information efficiently while multitasking and help get ready for upcoming exams without physically sitting down and reading a book. When Christiana Care ObGyn Department books national speakers, I help record and publish their talks along with short videos of them explaining their work on ObGYnToGo.com. I like being involved with women’s health; it keeps me in touch and I believe I am very good at helping Christiana Care help get important information out to their various audiences.
3. Please provide an example of a difficult decision you’ve had to make. Why was it difficult? One tough decision for me was making the choice to take a more flexible career path to meet the needs of my family. I am an attorney and have worked hard to develop my own career and letting go was not easy at first. My husband is Vice Chair of the ObGyn Department at Christiana Hospital, his work weeks average 80-100 hours, depending. He is also frequently doing in-house “on call” so there is no predictability when it comes to planning what parent needs to manage what in our busy house.
When I made the choice to stop practicing law, it was very important to me to stay active and engaged, so, I worked part-time on a writing research product. This part-time job blossomed and it parlayed into me authoring two books. Through this experience, I have learned that careers are more like kaleidoscopes than straight paths; and I don’t regret making the tough decision at all. But, what I have also learned is that it is important to stay sharp, keep your skills tuned and be ready to jump back in to be able to support yourself or family, should life change quickly.
4. What makes you uniquely qualified to deal with the diverse personalities, priorities and perspectives that you will find in the PA State Legislature? I bring a very diverse background and experience to this race. From writing legislation and managing complex ticketing issues for the NFL-including ensuring high profile events met ADA criteria (while working for Madden & Patton Law firm – subcontractors for the NFL, under the business name On Site Sports, LLC) in Washington. There were many surprisingly complex issues that presented themselves when dealing with stadiums, season ticketholders and ensuring there were enough seats made accessible for guests in wheelchairs and other related logistics. I mention this as this it helped me learn how to effectively deal with complex bureaucracies and find answers.
Another example would be my self-taught ability to efficiently navigate the public education system to meet my son’s special needs and manage his IEP plan. For many people this is an overwhelming experience and it’s not always easy to find answers or where to get information. Also, by attending law school and practicing law; I’ve learned the valuable lesson of understanding what are realistic versus unrealistic goals, balancing the needs of everyone in the system and the importance of keeping how can we make a situation better for everyone involved at the forefront of my perspective.
5. Why should voters vote for you? I have shown a strong devotion to my community, school district and Chester County. I have shown that I am very competent at organizing and executing plans. Most importantly, I bring a compassion for people who need help and I am eager to help them find solutions to their problems. I view becoming an elected official as a public service job and not a career, and believe representing each person in this district as carrying a heavy fiduciary responsibility; including make smart budget decisions with their money.
6. Is there anything else you’d like to make sure our readership and the voters know about you? My work and experience speak for itself. I lead my life as a “what you see is what you get” type of person. Why be anything but who you are? I am going to do what I believe is right rather than just go with the flow. At the end of the day, I need to know that I made the very best decision with the information at hand, but that doesn’t mean one’s decisions can’t flex with the times. I’ve learned the importance of not getting trapped in a philosophical and ideological box, to me; it makes the premium of being authentic even more important.
7. How should voters and our readership reach you if they have questions, or would like to get involved? Campaign Home Page: Whitneyforpa160.com, FB search: Whitney Hoffman, Blog: whitneyhoffman.com, Email : Whitneyforpa160@gmail.com, phone: (484) 775-0401