LOWER MAKEFIELD >> Standing in her backyard with her husband and children by her side, Pennsbury School Board member Debbie Wachspress on Wednesday, July 10 announced her candidacy for Congress in the First District of Pennsylvania.
“I have nothing personal against (incumbent Congressman) Brian Fitzpatrick. We’ve crossed paths many times around Bucks County and we have had respectful conversations with each other,” said Wachspress. “But here’s what really bothers me: his self-declared independence looks more like turning a blind eye when he should be standing up and speaking out with indignation against some of the inhumane and morally disastrous policies of the president.
“We need a representative that will be a strong, reliable voice in Washington - a voice you can count on ... I just can’t sit around and watch. Silence is complicity.”
Running as a progressive Democrat in 2020, Wachspress said she would fight for the environment, work to provide universal, affordable, quality healthcare and push for universal background checks on all gun purchases in an effort to end mass shootings.
On the environment, Wachspress said she would work to protect safe drinking water and clean air. “These issues continue to be prime concern nationally and right here in Bucks County.
“And yes, global warming is real and getting worse every day,” said Wachspress. “I support bold, ambitious moves to focus our economy toward greater reliance on both renewable energy and energy efficiency. We must work with communities to ensure that the transition to clean, renewable, energies is done fairly and without leaving anyone behind. And I support the creation of millions of new jobs by incentivizing the retrofitting of existing buildings with energy upgrades.”
Wachspress said she would also push for universal, affordable, quality health care, which she calls “a basic human right. No one should lose their life savings or suffer with an untreated illness because health insurance is unaffordable.”
Wachspress said she supports building upon the President Obama’s Affordable Care Act by making a public option available for anyone who wants it and to lower premiums.
“And with the price of prescription drugs skyrocketing, I believe in using the government’s bargaining power to bring those prices down to levels where people can afford life-saving medicines,” said Wachspress. “And it goes without saying: it should be illegal for an insurance company to deny anyone insurance because of a pre-existing condition.
“We also know that accessible and affordable healthcare for all, including contraceptive services, is the single biggest way to minimize unwanted pregnancies. I support continuing to fund community-based healthcare clinics that are accessible to all no matter where someone lives. And Roe v. Wade must remain the law of the land.”
Wachspress said she also supports strengthening the nation’s gun laws, including universal background checks for all gun purchases, in an effort to prevent future mass shootings.
“I will support legislation to rid our streets of weapons that fire large rounds of ammunition, the kinds of weapons that are designed for battlefields. These are measures responsible gun owners support and can be done without violating anybody’s 2nd Amendment rights.”
Wachspress, who describes herself as a do-er and a problem-solver, said she was spurred to action by the election of New York businessman Donald Trump as the President of the United States.
“On Nov. 9, 2016, I woke up feeling like I was kicked in the stomach .... Months of attacks on everyone: immigrants, people of color, Muslims, a Gold Star family, the facts, the truth ... Everything I have ever cared about felt like it was under attack when Trump got elected to office,” Wachspress said.
“Here was a man whose conduct and comments on the campaign trail were incredibly divisive. Not Presidential ... Our kids were watching, and some taking cues from him - with hate speech escalating in our schools and across the country. As a mother of an 18 year old daughter, how could I look away when we had a president who bragged about grabbing women whenever he pleases and getting away with it?”
In 2017, Wachspress co-founded Lower Bucks Indivisible, part of a national grassroots movement to elect progressive leaders, realize bold progressive policies, rebuild democracy and to defeat the Trump agenda.
“I stand with our kids, with our families and with future generations who will inherit this country,” said Wachspress. “That’s what is motivating me. We can do better and we must do better. Because what we’re living through right now feels anything but right and is wreaking havoc on the soul of our nation.”
Currently a Pennsbury School Board Director serving in her second term, Wachspress has worked for the past two years as Director of Relationship Development at The Peace Center, a Bucks County nonprofit which teaches children and adults skills in non-violent conflict resolution and how to stand up to bullying.
Previously, Wachspress worked for the Boys & Girls Club of Trenton as Director of Community Engagement where she recruited mentors and tutors for at-risk youth, and helped raise funds to build a new youth development center.
In response to the mass shooting at Columbine High School, she became a statewide leader for the Million Mom March that took place in Washington, DC in 2000 to advocate for gun violence prevention measures.
Wachspress earned her bachelor’s degree in political science at Rutgers University, followed by a master’s degree in political science and public policy at Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics. She and her husband Dan moved to Bucks County in 2002 and then raised their three children here - Jacob (22), Anna (20) and Ben (17).