2019 Candidate Spotlight: Lydia Laythe

  • Nov 1, 2019
  • Lydia Laythe, Emerge PA '19

I first decided to run for office after working as a trauma therapist in my community. I realized that people in positions of power were making decisions that hurt my clients. Whether it was school board members or state-level elected officials, it was clear there was a disconnect between the decisions they made in government and what the people they represented actually needed.  I eventually grew tired of picking up the pieces with my clients in the aftermath and decided I wanted to prevent these problems from happening in the first place. I know I could use my experience to better inform policies and creating a community-wide impact. And where better to start than my own backyard?

Washington Township is an amazing place to grow up. A local university keeps new energy flowing into our community each year. The influx of new students and faculty means there’s no shortage of creativity and unique ideas. We have some of the best local businesses including a distillery, a quirky boutique and a great restaurant that helps support our volunteer firefighters. Since we’re a rural community, residents and visitors get to enjoy breathtaking outdoor spaces. The township’s major employer used to be small, family-owned farms, but now more people are employed by the university and local school district.

With this shift, we’re seeing more newcomers like my own family. A sizable portion of the residents have gone from generations of family farmers to those who have come to make a new life in our community.  But that means we’re losing some of the local and generational knowledge that naturally gets passed down through long established families. Without a strong online/social media presence or active communication and engagement with the community, the municipal government is missing a great opportunity to share our local treasures with the new families that move into our town.

Creating more visibility within and outside of the community is just one initiative I hope to take on when elected to Washington Township Council. I also want to create better community engagement and communication between the council and residents. Lastly, but perhaps most notably, I want to find ways to bring environmental policy to the local level. There’s so much we need to be doing to prevent climate change, and I believe there’s no better place to start than on this council.

While I consider myself an ambitious, confident and intelligent woman, I know my experience throughout this whole campaign process would be 10 times more intimidating and isolating if I didn’t have the support of my Emerge sisters! It’s difficult to describe the power of a room full of 20-30 strong, politically engaged women. It’s like being in a room of friends and superstars all the same time. I connect with them, they make me feel seen and they understand me better than others do. I also admire and respect them so much I’m almost awe-struck by their accomplishments! And I know they feel the same way about me. To experience that mutual respect and admiration creates an atmosphere and network of support that’s unbeatable.

Young women are not less intelligent than their older, male counterparts. Young women are not less articulate, qualified, or strong. In my experience, the ONLY thing I was missing was an environment that constantly and consistently told me, “You belong here – at the table, in the room, where political conversations and important decisions are being made.” Emerge Pennsylvania gave me that endless well of support. Sometimes all you need are a few incredible women to affirm you and confirm that you have a right to want this.

I know I belong in those rooms. I know I’m needed at those tables. I saw that need with my clients. If I had been in those rooms – if more people like me had been involved – maybe we could’ve prevented the traumas that brought people to my office in the first place. I know I, and people like me, belong in the political process at the local, state, and national level. And I’ll get there, just watch me. Or better yet, join me!