Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District., the first woman to be elected by the Lehigh Valley, recently reached 100 days in office for her first full term representing the 7th District of Pennsylvania in the 116th U.S. Congress.
Wild defeated Republican Marty Nothstein in the 2018 midterm elections and is the first Democrat to represent the region since 1991.
But before redistricting of Pennsylvania’s districts was implemented for the current session of Congress, Wild also served out the remainder of Rep. Charlie Dent’s, R, term when she narrowly won a special election to represent the old 15th District. She was sworn in to the 115th U.S. Congress on Nov. 27, 2018.
The mission of Wild’s campaign was to improve the lives of the average American working family in this district, Wild said.
“I ran for this office because I wanted our community to have an independent representative who would stand up for working families,” Wild said. “My top priority is to improve the lives of families in my district — working families, middle class families, families living in poverty. That’s why I’m fighting for quality, affordable health care for all, an economy that benefits every member of our community, not just those at the top, and fundamental reforms of our political system so we can return government to the American people and ensure everybody in the Greater Lehigh Valley can participate in our democracy.”
Wild sits on two committees in the House, including that chamber’s committees on foreign affairs and the chamber’s committee for education and labor.
She has positioned herself on the subcommittee of health, employment, labor and pensions.
Brian Fife, the chair of Lehigh’s political science department, gave his take on Wild’s young time in office so far.
“I would say she is off to a good start in this sense,” Fife said. “One of the most important things from new people either in the House or Senate are committee assignments….she accentuated health care as a top issue, as many other Democrats did, and their collective goal of maintaining the status of the ACA (Affordable Care Act), so she is in a good position institutionally to deliver on that. She’s on the appropriate committee, so that is something I would define as effective and fruitful from the beginning.”
While Wild’s special election win was on behalf of the old 15th District voters, she now represents the new 7th District constituents, which includes all of Lehigh and Northampton counties as well as parts of southern Monroe County.
Since being elected, Wild has opened district offices in both Allentown and Easton.
Hillary Kwiatek, a communications specialist in Human Resources at Lehigh, worked on Wild’s campaign. She said she hopes Wild will continue to make an effort to keep the close ties she has with people in the district.
“It’s hard to know what she will be able to accomplish, because I know that everything will kind of get taken over by the presidential election, and she will be working on her re-election,” Kwiatek said. “The House is in Democratic hands, and Senate is in Republican hands, so it’s hard to know what can actually get moved all the way through Congress. But I like to see that she’s working on staying connected to the district and serving her constituents. I think that’s a big part of the role.”
Fife is hoping Wild will take initiatives on projects to improve the Lehigh Valley.
“If she can participate in a Lehigh Valley project of bringing companies and industries that could help revive the area, I think that would be very effective,” he said. “She could be helpful because she does have a background in local politics and is very well connected.”
Wild herself said she is enthusiastic about serving the 7th District in Congress, and is hopeful for the future.
Her two-year term will expire in January 2021 and would need to run for and win re-election in order to continue serving in the House.
“There’s a real spirit of commitment to getting things done in Congress, right now, and I think a lot of that stems from our diverse, vibrant and enthusiastic freshman class, of which I’m very proud to be a part of,” Wild said.