In honor of the centennial of the 19th Amendment this year, the Capital-Star decided to follow up with the many women running for public office across the state.
Each week, look for a short Q&A with these women and learn a bit more about them and why they are running for office.
This week, we chat with Ruth Moton, a Republican running for state House in the Delaware County-based 159th District. Moton unsuccessfully challenged Democratic incumbent Rep. Brian Kirkland for the seat in 2018.
This year, Kirkland is being primaried by Democrat Angela Prattis.
Q: What made you decide to run for public office?
MOTON: “Well, so, I ran in 2018 also. What made me decide to run? I had already reached as far as friends, entities that I’ve been affiliated with … you know, helping out at church, things of that nature, just helping out wherever I could with children and seniors. My circle that I have been able to help, -it reached its limit. It reached capacity.
One reason that pushed me forward more so, is when I became part of the 159th district because where I lived was not always in that district. I’m used to, if I had an issue with my state rep, you call someone at their office, they answer them, they help you in whichever way that they can if they can.
I’ve even written letters to my state senator, my congressman and so forth, but they would at least respond. My current state representative, when I reached out to them – okay, they did the redistricting, so the person that you thought was your representative no longer is. So, I called the office to my current state rep and got the answering machine. Okay, no problem. Five days later I am calling back and no one still has gotten back to me.
So now, the problem that I may have had, it’s done. There isn’t anything that you can do to help me.
My opponent is a family that has had that office, that position for 30 years. The uncle [former state Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland] moved on and became mayor and his nephew succeeded him, so, there’s a lot of history of this behavior where people don’t matter.
And even with me growing up in Philadelphia, I’m not used to that. I’m used to having someone in my neighborhood, that if you had a problem, you called them, you went to them, they helped you.”
Q: Describe your experience running for public office.
MOTON: “You may get a few naysayers and trolls that send emails. I did receive one or two, from both a male and female that actually asked me how dare I be a Black woman and be a Republican.
I just say, ‘You don’t know me.’ As far as I know, this is still America and I will fight for anyone to be who and what you are.”
Q: Tell us about House District 159.
MOTON: “It’s mostly working people and then, as you go around it mixes a little more with white-collar workers. It’s an area that over the years, anyone on the outside looking in, you know that, there hasn’t been any type of representation at all whatsoever.
A lot of people who live within the 159th are starting to see that also. Most people in fact, we’re going to do nice stuff. The southeast part is Delaware County, the city of Chester is one other location that you heard about.
The mayor of Chester [Thaddeus Kirkland] is the person who used to be the state representative. And this is just as far as the education, the schools are sub-par, the city of Chester itself with the bankruptcies, the Act 47 status – there hasn’t even been an audit, or at least one that I can get my hands on, of the school district, for those children.
Half of the township where I live is in the 159th, the other half is not. And there’s an upper side to the township. As a prime example, education is an area that I am working on and would like to have changed for the entire state of Pennsylvania.
One example, I took care of my granddaughter a few years back and she was in Kindergarten. She went to Lynnewood elementary school. I found out that Kindergarten where I lived was equivalent to second grade in the city of Chester.”
Q: If elected, what are your key goals?
MOTON: “As far as the curriculum, doing just that has to be where we go. We can get everyone talking about public school, not private or anything of that nature. But for public school, the curriculum should be the same throughout. Parents should not have to move somewhere that they can’t afford to live or have children miss out on that just because of your zip code.
We need to have our children ready for this world that we created for them. I hear adults complaining that their kids are always on their phones, and they can’t talk to them. Okay, well, send them a text message. We can’t fault them for a world that we created for them and that’s all they know.”
By the same way, those that have reached the age for Part A of Medicare (hospital insurance) and Social Security, I would want to work on and look at the numbers, but I do not think they should be responsible for 100 percent of the school tax.
I think that once you reach a certain age, you have at least earned the right to be able to live and not have to worry about losing your home.
Now, I know we all have to pay our portion of taxes in order for services to continue on. But if I’m 60, 70 years old, I’m not having any more children. Chances are that most people are not still having children then. So, even if it’s either half, if it can’t be zero in school tax, at least half of that liability should be taken away.”
Q: What advice would you give other women who might be interested in seeking public office?
MOTON: “I would say go do it even if you’ve never held the public office before. Great. That’s all the better. So, then you don’t owe anyone anything there aren’t any backdoor dealings, favors or anything of the kind. As far as women, and especially if you are a mother, you know, I happen to be a mother, married to a Marine husband with grandchildren, I’ve run a multi-million dollar company – So we are more than capable and able to do it. We have the life experience and the empathy for the most part, to be able to actually listen and hear what people are saying and address those issues. I say, ‘go for it.’”
Q: 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote. What does it mean to you to be a female candidate for office a century later?
MOTON: “For me, it means a lot. I was aware of the anniversary and so forth, but when I think about it, I’m one of those individuals who, I’ve followed politics since I was in middle school, so for women and what they went through in order for other women to be able to vote and the imprisonment – bless them.
And then I think about my grandmother. She was a business owner and owned property when you needed a husband to buy one. She was able to do that.”