I’m Emily Skopov and I’m running to represent the 28th legislative district of Pennsylvania because, like many of you, I expect more from our government, and I know our families deserve it.

A few years back, I noticed that my two kids and their friends, most not yet old enough to vote, were already pessimistic about our leaders, our institutions, and even our democracy. Like many adults, these kids had become cynical about our politicians, doubting that they were truly interested in working for the people. When I talked to other folks about engaging with representatives or our political process, a sense of “why bother?” was depressingly widespread.

People have lost faith that the values on which America was founded are being upheld by our government. Too many of the policies coming out of Washington, D.C. and Harrisburg don’t adequately solve the problems facing hard-working Pennsylvanians. Many feel defeated and hopeless about a system that seems corrupt and rigged.

As a parent, I couldn’t stand by and let my kids grow up feeling powerless and mistrustful. And I have always taught them that if you see something wrong, then do something about it. Instead of waiting for someone else to solve a problem, be that someone. Do your part. And that’s why to walk the walk, I had to run.

I grew up in a mostly working-class community. My mom was a public school teacher and my father is a small business owner. It was a tight-knit, family-focused community that taught me to think on my feet and always look out for your friends and neighbors. Most of all, it taught me the value of hard work, perseverance, and a passion for standing up for your beliefs. Because I was raised to always give one hundred percent, I was able to receive my bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and to earn my Masters Degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Being raised to jump in and lend a hand to anyone in need is how I came to start my non-profit. My husband Todd and I were out to dinner with our children to celebrate our son’s birthday when we learned that the crayons he’d received with his menu were going to be thrown out after we left, even though they hadn’t been used. Talking to the manager, I learned that crayons, which don’t biodegrade, were tossed in the trash by most restaurants. So perfectly good art supplies were filling landfills simply because no one had seen this problem as an opportunity.

Crayons are both an art supply and, for young kids, a required school supply. Unfortunately, they’re often unaffordable for families in poverty. So I began collecting crayons from restaurants and redistributing them to those in need. Today, the organization I founded, No Crayon Left Behind, collects crayons from our partner restaurants, as well as schools, civic organizations, corporations, individuals and more. We work with the disabled, the elderly, veterans and folks with special needs, social workers and law enforcement.  In less than 10 years, we’ve gifted over one and a half million crayons and other supplies to schools and organizations both in the Pittsburgh area and around the world. We’ve even developed molds to make new crayons out of damaged and broken ones.

No Crayon Left Behind’s success is the result of my ability to find a fresh perspective, then apply common sense and hard work. It’s the result of reaching out to folks from all different backgrounds who were willing to collaborate, and who shared my desire to address a need and solve a problem. It is time for our elected leaders to do the same.

Chronically underfunded schools, credit downgrades and lack of the most basic anti-discrimination policy have made Pennsylvania less attractive to businesses, our legislators’ refusal to enact fair districting and simple voter registration measures have diminished our rights as citizens and damaged the power of our votes, and partisan gridlock prevents Harrisburg from passing basic and necessary health care measures. It’s time we elect people willing to put the interests of their constituents ahead of their own interests in gaining power and influence.

I’m running to help build a more fair and secure Commonwealth. I’m running because all young people deserve strong, quality public education; our business owners and our workers deserve equal opportunity and a healthy, modern economy; and our neighbors require affordable and effective health care options. But for any of this to happen, we need compassionate people in government who are dedicated to public service. 

My husband and I are grateful to be able to raise our kids in Marshall Township. Like all those with whom we share this community, we’ve worked hard for the life that we have. We deserve a representative who works as hard – for us – as we do.

I am ready to serve.