92nd District House race profile: Danielson vs. Keefer

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Election Day in York City, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The state's 92nd House District has never seen a Democrat in its seat, but Shanna Danielson is hoping to add some blue to the district's history and become the second woman to hold the position come the November midterm elections.

The seat currently is held by Republican state Rep. Dawn Keefer, who in 2016 was the first woman to ever be elected to the district. The seat previously was held by Republican Rep. Scott Perry.

The district covers Dillsburg, Franklintown, Goldsboro, Lewisberry and Wellsville boroughs; Carroll, Fairview, Franklin, Monaghan, Newberry, Warrington and Washington townships; and Monroe Township in Cumberland County.

Shanna Danielson, Democratic challenger in the 92nd District race.

Danielson is a Carroll Township resident who teaches fifth-grade band at five elementary schools in the Cumberland Valley School District.

Prior to teaching, she served for two years as the director of education and events for the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association.

While Danielson has been interested in politics for years, her call to run came after former Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, implemented nearly $1 billion in cuts to education funding — a move that directly affected her and the children she taught.

Danielson also cited the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, which led to the death of 20 children and six adult staff members, as a catalyst.

“This was not my plan, but I felt like no one should run unchallenged," she said. "I'm figuring this out as I go, but teaching was excellent preparation. I've spent my life serving kids, not working for my own benefit."

Danielson's platform consists of changing the "inadequate" system of funding education in the state, creating an independent citizens' commission to draw congressional lines, banning gifts to legislators and "getting big money out of politics."

The Democrat also supports gun reform, increasing mental health services in schools, expanding access to health care and raising the minimum wage.

Danielson said she has noticed increased enthusiasm in the party, but she hesitated to make any predictions, as "enthusiasm doesn't matter if you don't vote."

"A lot of people are more aware of politics than they have been before," she said. "We can’t keep kicking this down the road and wait for someone else to do it."

Dawn Keefer, candidate for the 92nd House during a debate hosted by the York County Economic Alliance, Tuesday April 19, 2016. John A. Pavoncello

Keefer didn't respond to multiple phone calls and emails to speak about her re-election efforts. But her campaign page details her history in the county and her political platform.

The one-term Republican incumbent grew up in central Pennsylvania and owned a consulting firm for a decade before serving as chief adviser to former state Republican Rep. Will Gabig.

Keefer also currently volunteers with the Youth Impact Project, a nonprofit organization helping impoverished families in the south-central region of the state.

Going into midterm elections, she is a member of the standing committees on commerce; health; aging and older adult services; and labor and industry.

On her campaign website, she cites her quick progress in the General Assembly to support her re-election efforts.

"I hit the ground running in my first year, challenging the status quo, demanding accountability and championing reforms and policies that foster a thriving economy," Keefer wrote. "I remain steadfast in my commitment to solving Pennsylvania's challenges using my experience and common sense — and not the taxpayer's wallet."  

Keefer's platform has emphasized eliminating unnecessary business regulations, promoting fiscally responsible spending and reforming the pension system.

She is also a staunch pro-life and Second Amendment advocate who wants to minimize government intervention in citizens' lives.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.

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