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Susan Wild Provides Legislative Update at LVEDC Event

By Colin McEvoy on April 26, 2019

LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham speaking to U.S. Rep. Susan Wild at the Legislative Update event.

LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham speaking to U.S. Rep. Susan Wild at the Legislative Update event.

Fresh off her recent election to Congress, U.S. Rep Susan Wild gave a legislative update to her constituents this week during an event hosted by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).

Wild, who was elected in November to represent Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional district, spoke to a crowd of nearly 100 people at the Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown on April 24.

“I really want to get your ideas and thoughts tonight,” Wild said. “Whenever I come back to the Lehigh Valley, my staff gets constant texts and emails from me, because when I hear an idea or question from someone here, I always send it to them because I want to to follow up on it as soon as I get back to Washington.”

The South Whitehall Township resident is the first woman to represent the Lehigh Valley in Congress, and the first Democrat to represent the region since 1999. A member of the Lehigh Valley community for more than 30 years, Wild built a successful legal practice while raising her two children, and became the first woman to be appointed as Allentown City Solicitor.

During the legislative update event, Wild identified some of her legislative priorities, including health care, education, lowering prescription drug prices, middle class tax reform, and addressing rising student debt. She is also on a freshman working group about the opioid crisis, and said there is very strong sentiment in Congress to address gun violence.

Wild particularly and repeatedly stressed the importance of helping community colleges and vocational and technical schools grow and thrive in order to meet workforce demands, particularly from manufacturers.

“Vocational and technical schools used to be stigmatized and thought of as ‘dirty work,’ and that’s not what it is anymore,” she said. “Those jobs are highly sought after and very prestigious. The average auto mechanic now knows as much about computers as how to change an alternator.”

She also discussed the need to repair aging infrastructure in educational facilities across the nation, voicing support for the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, which she said would positively affect schools in the Lehigh Valley.

Wild said she is “cautiously optimistic” that Congress could pass bills on bipartisan issues like opioids, infrastructure, and education, but she also recognized that advancing legislation in the current climate of partisanship and political deadlock will be difficult.

“I’m concerned because we are discussing lots of bills that won’t get to the floor,” she said. “Do I think Mitch McConnell responsible for that? Yes I do. We’re putting a lot of work in and should get a vote.”

However, Wild said she believes much of the work taking place in Congress will serve as “building blocks” for success legislation following the 2020 election, which she believes along with the recent 2018 midterms “will really determine the future of this country.”

Wild briefly discussed qualified opportunity zones, and said she supports using the federal tax code as incentives to development in urban areas, saying, “In general, I think it’s a wise use of tax dollars.” She said she supported the $3 billion tax credit for Amazon’s HQ2 project in New York City, which ultimately fell through.

During the event, LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham also discussed LVEDC’s newly-launched Made Possible in Lehigh Valley marketing campaign, and showed the audience the new two-minute video released as part of the campaign, which drew praise from Wild.

“I have to tell you, when I watched that video, I got a little bit choked up,” Wild said. “There were so many of my favorite places in the Lehigh Valley encapsulated in that video.”

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