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U.S. and State Representatives Meet with Student Journalists at Hill

Published by The Hill News. On October 6, 2020 U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean and Pa. State Sen. Bob Mensch visited Hill’s journalism class for a press conference conducted by the students. Articles are in one document because they come from the same press conference but cover different topics within it. 

Pennsylvania officials are concerned about discrimination

By Rease Coleman ’22, Mandy McCarrick ’22, and Sarah Rogalski ’21

U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean and Pa. State Sen. Bob Mensch both believe that preventing discrimination is a necessary and important issue. Rep. Dean fights against racial injustices and the civil reckoning, while Sen. Mensch confronts discrimination against those with disabilities.

“We’re at a racial reckoning,” Rep. Dean said when asked about racial and gender inequality by a student journalist during an Oct. 6 press conference.

The Hill School’s journalism class interviewed Sen. Mensch, a Republican in the Pa. General Assembly, as well as Rep. Dean, a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Both of these politicians had similar stances on the issue of discrimination. 

Rep. Dean went on to say, “I have learned through my own staffers … some of the cruelty of our society.” These eye-opening realizations and conversations Rep. Dean is having, she said, help improve her insight over the issue of discrimination, especially within her own circle. 

Both interviewees went in-depth about how the people around them affect their perspective on discrimination. Each of these high-status politicians shows the need and want for a change toward positive reinforcement on this topic.

When it was Sen. Mensch’s turn to respond to the same question, he answered with, “Any discrimination is wrong, regardless of basis.”

While Rep. Dean and Sen. Mensch focused on different aspects of discrimination, both came to the conclusion that equality should be for everyone. Their concern of making the nation a better and safer place for everyone is shown in their hopes for future accomplishments, knowing it will take much time to see improvement. 

Sen. Mensch continued with, “I hope that we evolve into a better, more accepting world as we go forward.” He spoke about how he hopes that his own grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be able to live in a better, more accepting world.  

The discussion demonstrated that opposing sides of government were able to put politics aside to come to the conclusion that discrimination has no place in America.

As Sen. Mensch said, “We as people are too discriminating in our judgments.”

Pennsylvania officials share their journeys into their political career

By Tyler Chenevert ’22 and Pierce Hart ’23

Both U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean and Pa. Sen. Bob Mensch’s origin stories help explain how they chose their political career today. Sen. Mensch’s story started in an economics class with his Czechoslovakian Jewish professor who survived Treblinka, and Rep. Dean’s story started with her mom’s friend telling her to run for local committee person. On Oct. 6, Sen. Mensch and Rep. Dean both shared their inspirational stories with student journalists at The Hill School. 

Rep. Dean got into politics because her friend’s parents thought highly of her. She said they asked to come over one night, and they said they had an idea for her. They thought she should run for office as a local committee person. 

Rep. Dean was influenced by these people; the fact that they believed that she could make a difference was enough to get her to run. At the age of 18, she ran and won the job of a local committee person. That small but large step in her life helped dictate who she has become today.

In the days that preceded her election to the U.S. House, she wasn’t even in the political circle. She was an English professor at La Salle University. After that, she decided that it was time to run; she took classes at the Delaware Law School and earned her degree in Law. Following getting her degree, it was time to run once again.   

Along with Rep. Dean, Sen. Mensch also found a start in politics in a different way. His origin story started with his Czechoslovakian Jewish professor. The way this man spoke about life in America inspired Sen. Mensch to look into the economic side of politics.  

Sen. Mensch recalls this saying from his professor “Gentlemen, I don’t know why Americans want to give up their freedoms, the government was so important.”

This prompted Sen. Mensch to start on the business side of politics. He began working at AT&T and worked his way up in the ranks. Learning about many different things in his time there at a major corporation. He then retired from the company in 1997 when his friends told him he should run for a position in the state government. 

“When my friends asked me to run for office, I said no. I didn’t want to put my name on a yard sign at all. And yet I finally agreed to do it … Politics is just like business; it’s talking with people; it’s dealing with people; it’s understanding issues; it’s trying to find the right solutions.” 

Both Sen. Mensch and Rep. Dean have interesting origin stories. We can learn a lot about them from their pasts, and what kind of politicians they are today. That all started with a story. 

“Sometime in my future, someday I will run for office,” Rep. Dean said.

Personal stories impact politicians’ career focus

By Oliver Hutchison ’22 and Anthony Wise ’22

Pa. State Sen. Senator Bob Mensch, a Republican, and U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Democrat, demonstrate how personal stories can impact a political career. 

On Oct. 6, Hill student journalists held a press conference with Sen. Mensch and Rep. Dean. Both were asked what they felt were the most pressing issues in Pennsylvania and across the country. 

Sen. Mensch’s No. 1 priority is to address the economic crisis and maximize human assets. He said the economy affects all of us regardless of race, gender, or religion and translates to a number of other issues, including healthcare and the environment. Sen. Mensch called for a more intelligent conversation in order to fix the economic problems that exist in the United States.  

One issue Rep. Dean finds important is gun violence. She has worked on a number of legislations in regards to gun violence and background checks. She also made it known that she is not against guns but rather against gun violence. 

In addition to gun violence, Rep. Dean also is addressing public health problems such as the opioid crisis. The number of overdoses caused by opioids is staggering, she said.  

She then stressed the importance of the upcoming election. She said this would be “the most important election of our nation’s history.” Amid COVID-19, Rep. Dean points out the lack of leadership from the top of command. Because of this, we are in an economic paralysis with unemployment rates at a high.

On the other hand, Sen. Mensch thinks the virus should not be politicized. “Coronavirus is a medical issue, not a political issue,” he said, adding that in order to fully revitalize the economy, COVID-19 must first be taken care of. 

Separate from the economy, one issue Sen. Mensh is proud to have addressed is breast cancer testing. The effects of his work with breast cancer testing have extended to people outside his immediate circle of jurisdiction and across the country, which has been a gratifying experience for him. 

With a son who deals with disability, Sen Mensch said he was “mocked and shamed” because of it. This has motivated him to help people with disabilities and show empathy.