Republican Phillips-Hill wins state Senate seat vacated by Wagner

Rebecca Klar
York Dispatch
Kristin Phillips-Hill, R- Jacobus, defeated Democratic challenger Judith Higgins, Tuesday, November 6, 2018, to win the 23rd Senate seat. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

Kristin Phillips-Hill kept the state Senate seat vacated by gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner in Republican hands — and will become the first woman to hold the seat. 

Phillips-Hill, who previously served as the 93rd House District representative, won 61,845 votes in the race for the 28th Senate District, according to unofficial results from York County. 

Her opponent, Democrat Judith Higgins, won 36,634 votes. 

State Senate candidate Judith Higgins talks with Charlie Lytle, husband of state house candidate Delma Rivera-Lytle, at a Democratic Watch Party at Rockfish Public House in York City Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. Bill Kalina photo

"It's very humbling," Phillips-Hill said of her win. "To look at those numbers and see so many people believed in you." 

As for being the first woman to hold the seat, she said it's exciting, but she hopes people didn't vote for her based on her gender.

Progress: Higgins said that access for women to hold political office in York County has been an issue for years. 

"The fact that it was a competition between two women was truly unique," she said. 

Despite her loss, Higgins is proud of the progress her campaign made, she said. 

"We had a record turnout, that's fabulous because people only turn out if they feel they've got a voice, if they are feeling enfranchised ... and they actually feel they got a right to be there," she said. 

There's also a "new level of accountability" for elected officials, Higgins said. 

"People are realizing that's part of their job," she said. 

A 'big job': Phillips-Hill said she has a "big job" ahead of her but is excited to get back to Harrisburg and continue to be a "good listener" for her constituents. 

Higgins is a veteran, small business owner and adjunct professor at Penn State York. She's also served on the Eastern York school board for 17 years.

Although she hasn't ruled out another state office run, she said she isn't ready to commit to that decision yet. 

Instead, she's focusing on bettering her community in other ways, she said. 

"I learned so much about things that need to be done and the question is what is the best way to approach becoming a change agent within York County, to be able to facilitate that change that needs to occur," Higgins said. "If the Legislature won't step up and do it, then how do we do it without the Legislature?"