Alumna Susan Wild runs for Pennsylvania congressional seat
Wild is the only female candidate seeking the Democratic nomination
Susan Wild’s passion for social justice didn’t develop overnight. She found her home at American University, where she graduated in 1978. Now, Wild is the sole woman vying for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s 7th district.
“Being in Washington just made my commitment to [social justice] that much greater,” Wild said. “You're right there in the heart of where everything is done.”
Wild is competing against five men seeking to replace Republican Charlie Dent, who is retiring from Congress. The Pennsylvania Congressional map was recently redrawn after the state’s Supreme Court found that the old map was gerrymandered to favor Republicans. As a result, Wild is running in the former 15th district that is now the 7th district seat. The equivalent of the future 7th district seat went for Hillary Clinton in 2016 by one point.
In March, Wild was endorsed by Emily's List, a group who supports pro-choice Democratic women running for office. Wild said she did not want to “play the woman card.” However, she said it is a different world for women in politics. Her advice to young women looking to enter the political sphere is to run on why they’re qualified, she said.
“We’re going to get to equalization for women, especially more so for younger generations than mine,” Wild said. “There is still a bias against smart, competent, professional women.”
Wild, 60, said she wishes she had run for office at a younger age. She practiced law for decades in Pennsylvania and ran for office for the first time in her mid-fifties. She encourages those interested in politics to get involved early, volunteer and immerse themselves in campaigns.
“I really encourage them to look for the best possible campaign in their area and offer their service because they'll be surrounded by the best and the brightest,” Wild said.
Wild has several platform points that she believes will benefit college students. For example, one issue that she plans to focus on if elected is student loan debt. Wild said that something has to be done to fund colleges and trade schools to make it possible for students to go into whatever field they want.
“It really is across the board,” Wild said. “It's about every kid after high school, wherever they choose to go, they should not be paying the money that they are.”
Providing universal healthcare is another one of Wild’s major proposals. She is concerned that young people are making life and career decisions based off obtaining healthcare benefits rather than pursuing their own passions.
“I strongly believe we should be on a path to universal health care,” Wild said. We’re the only first world country that does not provide that, which is shameful to me.”
Wild said she is supported by a team of younger staff. In fact, Wild’s entire campaign staff is under the age of 32, she said. She said that the younger generation will carry the torch for change.
“I love to be surrounded by young people,” Wild said. “I find them stimulating and they're not set in their ways, and it makes me think back to that age and how open minded everyone seemed to be.”
Brady Hill, an AU junior in the School of Public Affairs, serves as Wild’s student outreach coordinator for the campaign. His role includes being a liaison between colleges, college clubs, young voters and the campaign, as well as amplifying young voices.
“I want to make sure students and young voters understand that they have a huge say in who represents them in Congress and that we can be the deciding factor, as we should, because we are the future,” Hill said.
As she prepares for the Pennsylvania primary on May 15, Wild looks back at her AU days fondly, attributing her time there to much of her maturity and growth.
“My lifetime friends are the ones I met at American. I’m still very close with people I met my freshman year at AU. It's a wonderful thing. I'm happy that the University is thriving and I'm very proud to be an AU graduate.”
Correction: This article previously mis-stated the seat Susan Wild is running for. She is running to replace Rep. Charlie Dent in the future 7th district.