“My Name is Lisa Scheller, and I’m Running for Congress!”
Lehigh Valley Ramblings
By Bernie O’Hare
October 15, 2019
Last year, at the Hope and Coffee House she founded in Hazelton, Lisa Scheller began her story with, “My name is Lisa, and I’m a recovering addict and alcoholic.” This is the standard introduction used by alcoholics and addicts in smoke-filled meeting rooms, where nicotine and caffeine are acceptable drugs for those of us hanging onto a shred or two of sobriety. Yesterday’s meeting room was Allentown Renaissance Hotel. It was no AA meeting. Though coffee flowed in abundance, none of the 25 or so well-dressed guests was smoking. Except for me. I had a pinch of Skoal hidden between my cheek and upper gum for that pure tobacco satisfaction. Instead of a boring suit and tie, I was dressed in SWAT-team pants I picked up for a song at the local Thrift store. This is the perfect ensemble for a room full of Republicans, especially if one of them wants to go skeet shooting or something. Lisa Scheller, who called this meeting for an important announcement, had something else on her mind. “My name is Lisa Scheller and I’m running for Congress,” she declared.
I never heard that at an AA meeting. President? Yes. Congress? Never.
Scheller, an Allentown resident, is seeking the Republican nomination to Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District. That seat is currently held by Democrat Susan Wild. It includes Lehigh, Northampton and a portion of Monroe County.
Unlike many in recovery from substance abuse, Scheller embraces it. She understands how “the politics of smear works,” but wants her struggle known. “I’m not ashamed of my addiction and I empathize with people who struggle, and their families,” she noted. She overcame her addiction and went on to earn degrees in both mathematics and engineering.
In 1988, after her brother passed away unexpectedly, she took over the reins of Silberline Manufacturing, a company started by her immigrant grandparents. She transformed it into a leading international manufacturer of aluminum-based pigments for the automotive and other industries. Her company employs 600 people in economically ravaged Tamaqua. Her sister-in-law, Jill Scwartz, referred to Scheller as a “force of nature.”
In addition to her education and business skills, Scheller also served a term as a Lehigh County Commissioner. In her final two years, she chaired the nine-person board.
In a stirring speech, Scheller said she’s running for Congress because the people of the Seventh District have been poorly served. “They’ve lost faith in government because government has constantly acted in bad faith,” she argued. “It’s tearing us apart. Nobody’s really speaking on the issues that matter to people here.” She identifies these issues as jobs, education, health care and secure borders. She derided “a permanent political class that feeds on division” instead of addressing these problems.
Jobs – Scheller observed “Government cannot create jobs. Businesses do.” But she slammed excessive regulation. She claimed this just leads to income for the governing class and bigger government.”Yes, we need some regulations to protect our safety, environment and equality. But over-regulation destroys employment.”
Education. – Scheller, who has established and expanded a scholarship program at Lehigh County Community College, said student debt is “out of control” and a “crushing burden” on our youth. “Becoming a nation of educational haves and have-nots is a danger to our democracy and prosperity,” she warned. She said it’s time government focuses on education instead of perpetuating conflict.
Medical care. – “Here’s the message: it’s not really the Affordable Care Act if you can’t afford it and end up with no health care. I’m committed to ensuring that pre-existing conditions remain covered for all people and I’m equally committed to making sure that we end the spiral of costs that was triggered by another well-intentioned government disaster. It’s time tofree people who are held hostage to this system.”
Secure Borders – Scheller’s grandparents and great-parents immigrated here from countries where they were unsafe. She argues they were safe in America for two reasons. First, they had the freedom guaranteed by the Constitution. Second, they had borders to protect that freedom.
“Why are people in this district concerned about our borders? Because we’re the ones who have to live with the consequences of a nation without them. People here understand something: you can’t have a nation without borders.”
After her speech, Scheller spoke individually with the guests who had come to see her, thanking them. Then she met us, The Fake News. We had questions about the Trump impeachment inquiry, the betrayal of Kurds in Syria and homeless veterans. For someone who disdains the political class, she did a pretty good job of ducking questions that might shed light on where she stands on Trump.
She did say he’s entitled to due process, and of course, he is. But due process provides for notice and an opportunity to be heard before being removed from the Office of President. Prosecutors have no obligation to disclose details of a pending investigation to a target. In this case, the prosecution is the House of Representatives. Their hearings can be likened to grand jury proceedings. If they do vote to impeach, the President would be entitled to full due process during his trial in the Senate.
Scheller has one declared GOP opponent, Dean Browning. He is a Trumpeteer.