It’s true that every vote counts. But what’s even more important to me is that every VOTER counts.
It is critical to restore public trust in our public servants and our system, so that every citizen wants to participate in the process, confident that their needs and concerns matter to those in government and will be addressed.
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.
People have lost faith that the values on which America was founded are being upheld by our elected leaders. Too many of the policies coming out of Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. don’t adequately solve the problems facing hard-working Pennsylvanians. Many feel defeated and hopeless about a system that seems corrupt and rigged. I’ve raised my children not to wait for someone else to solve a problem but to instead step forward to be part of a solution. And with all the problems demanding attention in our communities, I knew it was time for me to step up and run.
I grew up in a mostly working-class community and attended public schools. 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 the importance of looking out for your friends and neighbors. Most of all, it taught me the value of common sense, hard work, perseverance, integrity 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 lend a hand to anyone in need, along with having been a small business owner when I was younger, 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 millions of these perfectly good art and school supplies were filling landfills simply because no one had seen this problem as an opportunity.
Crayons are both an art supply and, for children, 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 donated over one and a half million crayons and other supplies to schools and organizations both in the Pittsburgh area and around the world. More recently, we’ve expanded to implement programs that promote the value of art therapy, and become an employment readiness and life-skills training partner for differently-abled teens and adults with learning challenges. Our latest initiative, No Computer Left Behind, was launched as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which accelerated and increased the already harmful impact of the ever-widening digital divide.
No Crayon Left Behind’s success is the result of my ability to develop innovative yet practical solutions, then apply common sense and hard work. It’s the result of having worked alongside my father at his own small business during countless weekends, summers and school vacations throughout my childhood and into my college years. It’s the result of having co-founded and owned a small manufacturing business when I was younger, where I functioned as the office manager, bookkeeper, marketing director and many other jobs. It’s the result of having learned from my father the importance of valuing those you work alongside and those you serve, and the critical importance of stretching every dollar to its fullest, never wasting a single resource. It’s the result of understanding how to connect with folks from all different backgrounds who are willing to collaborate and who share my desire to address a need and solve a problem. It is time for our elected leaders to do the same.
With corporate tax policies that are urgently in need of reform, especially regarding our small businesses, along with chronic under-investments in public education, credit downgrades, declining infrastructure and lack of adequate transportation and anti-discrimination policies, Pennsylvania has much work to do to become more attractive to businesses. Our current Republican leadership’s refusal to enact fair redistricting policies 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, economic, educational and environmental 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, secure and resilient Commonwealth in which everyone has the opportunity and tools to thrive and achieve their own prosperity. I’m running because all young people deserve strong, quality public education; our business owners and our workforce deserve equal opportunities, fair wages and protections, and a robust, modern economy; and our neighbors require affordable and effective health care options. But for any of this to happen, we need hard-working, fearless people in government who are dedicated to public service and not a political or partisan agenda.
My husband and I feel blessed to be able to raise our son and daughter in Marshall Township. Like all those with whom we share this community and its values, we’ve worked hard for the life that we have. We deserve a representative who works as hard – for us – as we all do for ourselves and our families each and every day.
Most candidates tell you how they’re going to represent you. I want you to tell me how you want to be represented. If elected, the people of the 28th district will write my job description for me, so that my platform is built on their priorities.