158th District Q&A: Susan Rzucidlo

This is the second of a series of question and answer interviews focusing on candidates for State Representative. The Times did not edit, alter or in any way change the responses. We do this to give the candidates a chance for an unfiltered opportunity to make their case to our readers. As always, we welcome your input.


Susan Rzucidlo

1.  Why are you running?

I am running for public office because I believe government can do good things and can be a force for positive change, but we need legislators who are willing to stand up and fight for what is right.

I decided to first run for office in 2009, after I had a meeting in Harrisburg with an elected state official regarding $330 million of waste and possibly fraud.  As I showed him information regarding certain preferential contracts that paid a few providers for 31 hours of services every day to individuals who had disabilities. (I don’t know about you but I’ve only every found 24 hours in any given day)  He told me to “leave this alone.” I explained that there are people are on waiting lists for services and Pennsylvania is allowing for a double-dip. We needed to make this right.  He told me again, to leave it alone.  On my way home that day I decided I would run for office to do what I could from inside the House to end no-bid contracts, pay-to-play deals and backroom shenanigans that raise the tax burden on the people of Pennsylvania.  I don’t think this kind of blatant disregard for the use of public dollars should be tolerated. By the way, we did get that resolved and that problem has been corrected.

I first ran knowing that in order for a Democrat to win in Chester County, I would have to run several times to build my name recognition and give the voters time to get to know me. I knew going in that this was not going to be an easy race, but I have run with passion and commitment with a goal to make government better.  Over the years I have been surprised to be contacted by several registered Republicans asking me to change my party affiliation because they would like to help me get elected. I believe that would be disingenuous and so I politely declined. I would rather that people learn about where I stand on the issues and decide that we had more in common than our political registrations would suggest and then decide to vote for me.

I believe we need legislators who refuse to be bullied and can’t be bought.  I believe we need legislators who will listen to their constituents and work across party lines to do what is right for the people, not their party bosses. We need a Representative who will put values and people over party and special interest groups. I am that person.  I have been challenged in many ways as woman, a business owner, and an advocate and each time I have proven myself to be a strong and ethical leader. I believe that government can and should be accountable and accessible and if elected I will work to make that happen.

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? 

As the founder and Executive Director of my own small non-profit business and someone who has chaired and served on local and statewide committees I have had numerous opportunities to not only serve with, but also to lead very diverse groups.  I have vision to see solutions to complex problems, and a willingness to listen and learn from others. I have the tenacity to work until a project is completed and the ability to find common ground and bring commonsense, real life solutions to long-standing problems. I have proven that I am willing to listen, learn and compromise without letting go of my values.

When I worked with my co-creator of the Pennsylvania Premise Alert System, a system that allows individuals who have disabilities and/or complex medical diagnoses notify first responders of their specific needs before a crisis occurs, I took the leadership role.  As we worked to take this system to the state, meeting with the PA Department of Human Services, The Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Police Chiefs Association, Pa Emergency Management Agency and others I led the way. This process took 2 years and including meeting with more than 40 agencies, organizations, and self-advocacy and safety organizations. I worked to get the support of Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate and then we gifted it to the state so that law enforcement and individuals who live with disabilities could be safer in their community.  The Premise Alert System has now been replicated as law in 2 other states and in communities across our nation and in Canada. When I started the process I was told by many insiders in Harrisburg that there was no way that this would ever be done.  The Pennsylvania Premise Alert System is proof that with hard work, commitment and strong leadership things that insiders say can’t be done, can get done! I am pleased that Chester County 911 and all of Pennsylvania’s 911 centers use the Premise Alert system.


3. Please provide an example of a tough decision you’ve had to make.  Why was it tough?

I think the best way to answer this is with a story.  Many years ago children who lived in southern Chester County and had disabilities were not receiving services that doctors had prescribed simply because they lived in southern Chester County.  It was too rural.  These families had to make long distance calls to make appointments and they had to travel to Exton or West Chester to get the help their children needed. My son was one of those children affected. I made calls, talked to all the agencies and it was recommended to me that if I wanted the services that the doctor prescribed for my son that I should just move to West Chester. That was unacceptable! I knew that the County Commissioners had the power to make this right so I started attending their weekly meetings. Every week, for more than 6 months, I went to the meetings and when it was time for public comment I would raise my hand and talk about the fact that the children in southern Chester County were not receiving the services that had been prescribed.

After a few weeks of sharing different facts but still stressing the need for services, I received a call from a friend who is an attorney and friends with 2 of the County Commissioners. She said, “Susan, the Commissioners called, they asked, ‘Do you know Susan Rzucidlo and can you make her stop?’ She said, “Yes, and No, I do know Susan, and no, I’ve never known her to stop when it comes to kids.” We had a good laugh and I continued to go to the Commissioners meetings. Another month or so passed and my friend called me again. She said, “Susan, you must stop this, you are embarrassing the Commissioners.”  I said, “Good, they should be embarrassed.” She said “Let me tell you the political facts, there are not enough votes in southern Chester County for the commissioners to worry about this issue.” I said “That’s fine because I have marked my calendar and I will continue going and talking about this until this problem is fixed.” Well, don’t you know, a few weeks later, my son Ben suddenly had all of his prescribed services, but I kept attending meetings, fighting for the children of southern Chester County. I received a call from someone in the County who asked me why I was still going to the meetings since Ben had received all of his services. I said “Because this was never about just Ben, I spent the past 6 months fighting for all of the children in southern Chester County. I would continue until we had equal services in southern Chester County.  It wasn’t long before the process was started to put a provider in place in Kennett Square and we do now have better services and access.

I do have to be honest though, this wasn’t a tough decision for me. I try to face tough decisions by asking myself a few questions; Is it legal, Is it right, Is it just? What is the downside? Will my decision bring about a positive change in the long run? Tough decisions are part of life; I try to make sure that any time I have to make a decision that is tough that I will do so with honor, honesty and compassion.  I need to know that afterwards I can look at myself in the mirror and not be ashamed.

4. What make you uniquely qualified to deal with the diverse personalities, priorities and perspectives that you will find in the PA Legislature? 

My personal and professional relationships span the entire political spectrum, personality traits and personal agendas and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I would never want to surround myself with people who only agree with me. I know the only way to really make positive progress is to assemble a very diverse group. Having all stakeholders at the table and drawing from the diversity of experiences in the room to create a solution is the way to make a system or program that is effective.  I have always been the kind of person who can find common ground then move forward to work on a problem or project.  I believe the key to working with diverse personalities, priorities and perspectives is to treat everyone with respect and stay focused on the goal set before you.  You don’t have to become friends with everyone but you do need to treat everyone with respect and be a person who can be trusted.


5. Why should voters vote for you?

I believe that my work as an advocate and my experience creating and improving systems speaks for itself. I have proven myself as someone who can be trusted to do the right thing, stand up for the right causes, and work to make things better for everyone. I was not recruited by my party to run for this position, I chose to run because I believe that no one party has all the answers and we needed people in public office who will work with the goal of improving transparency and accountability in government. I am not a career politician. I am the independent person who will work for you in Harrisburg.  Besides that, I am the only candidate in this race who really wants this job. I said in January that I would run for this seat and I have been working to meet voters and let people know where I stand on the issues ever since. I am committed to doing this job for the entire term and then letting voters decide if I have done the job well enough to be hired again in 2016.  I have the passion, energy, ideas and ability to do the job.  If you vote for me on November 4th, let me prove to you that I will do what I have said.

6. Is there anything else you’d like to make sure our readership and voters know about you? 

I would like readers and voters to know that I am exactly the person that I say I am.  I have a reputation as someone who will take a hardline when it comes to the law and the rules and protecting people. Over the years I have come up against some very powerful men who have tried to intimidate me or buy me off. I am not for sale and I can’t be intimidated. But, I am also someone who has great compassion for people and a desire to help them so that they have access to a level playing field and the opportunity to succeed. I believe the law should be followed and applied equally to all.  I am offended by the idea that justice ends up being served on a sliding scale, with those who have the most money, power or influence being given a pass when those who have the least power are punished much more harshly for the same crime.  I want to work to bring balance to the system.

Also, I am now and will always strive to be accessible. That is why I give out my cellphone number and work to answer every e-mail that I receive.

7. How should voters and our readership reach you if they have questions, or would like to get involved?

They can go to my website  www.SusanForPA.com  for more information on where I stand on the issues or to volunteer and they can call me directly at 610-659-3145.

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  1. ChescoCPA says:

    What “TAX Loop Holes” do you intend to close & how many of them do you take on your business & personal tax returns?

  2. Mae says:

    Kudos to Susan for her excellent debate performance last night.
    Ross was very mechanical and dry, peppered with arrogance and condescension. On more than one occasion he insulted the writer of the questions by saying they didn’t understand the subject. He didn’t directly answer many of the questions..ex: Should Medical Marijuana become legal. He had reservations about it being used for recreational purposes- never said yes or no.
    Susan was straight forward with her answers.
    What I remember most- Susan saying “I was NOT recruited by my party…..I WANT this job”
    For those who don’t get that- Ross was recruited for this race last month after having announced his retirement in 2013. Now he says he as the opportunity to work on some unfinished business.
    Go Susan!

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