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Judith Higgins, candidate for the PA Senate District 28, talks with voters during a meet and greet event at Seven Sports Bar and Grille in New Freedom Tuesday, July 17, 2018. The Democrat is facing Republican Kristin Phillips-Hill in the November midterm election. York Dispatch

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As we reflect on the life of the straight-talking maverick of the Senate, John McCain, the philosophy of servant leadership is a common thread in his service to this country on the battlefield and as a POW during the Vietnam War, and as a statesman in the halls of Congress.

It is this trait of servant leadership that got me thinking about how much York countians need Judith Higgins to represent them in the Pennsylvania Senate, now more than ever.

While I did not often agree with Sen. McCain’s policies or politics, I respected his work to collaborate and compromise, to put country over party and courageously speak out when it was not politically popular.

Perhaps the most compelling words came in his final address to Congress, as he called for a return to political decency: “We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment in all corners of the globe.”

In the wake of McCain’s death, we find political tribalism at an all-time high. It was painfully on display as we watched the White House disrespect the American flag and the symbolism of half-staff for a fallen hero, even to the point of incensing veterans groups like the American Legion.

What’s happening on the national stage is occurring at the state level, too. A recent example was the move by a dozen Republican lawmakers in the Pennsylvania Assembly, three York County Representatives — Kristin Phillips-Hill, Dawn Keefer and Seth Grove — to impeach the duly elected Democratic state Supreme Court justices they disagreed with for striking down Pennsylvania’s 2011 congressional map as illegally favoring Republicans.

This was one of the most closely watched gerrymandering cases in the country. In every election since Republicans redrew the state map in 2011, they have won the same 13 of the state’s 18 congressional districts, despite Pennsylvania voting for President Obama in 2012 by over 5 percent and only barely favoring President Trump in 2016 by less than 1 percent.

Phillips-Hill and her allies bring up the Supreme Court intervention as if that was the problem, ignoring the real issue of the General Assembly “gerrymandering” in the first place, requiring court redress.

I’m tired of the tribalism and hyper partisanship. I want leaders who put people first and work for all of us, not just tow their party line. That is why I am voting for Judith Higgins for state Senate District 28 on Nov. 6.

Judith is a servant leader committed to enriching the lives of others, building bridges, and creating a more just and caring world. Her personal story is compelling in a life of service that started as a child, helping to care for her older sister, who lost her sight and suffered intellectual disabilities. Upon the death of her father at age 15, she went to work to help support her family.

A veteran of the Maryland Air National Guard, Judith served for 13 years as a non-commissioned officer, with expertise in public affairs and training. She knows how to listen, motivate and lead — and above all, accomplish the mission.

Judith served her community as an elected school board member for 17 years in Eastern York County School District, working across the aisle to get things done — from budgets passed on time to successful contract negotiations.

With a background in human resources development for more than two decades, Judith has experience uplifting folks through effective job-training programs and partnerships, like the bipartisan effort she led to develop the first countywide School to Work program in the state to improve student career opportunities.

An adjunct professor at Penn State teaching business leadership and human resources administration, Judith has degrees in Public Administration/Political Science and Human Resources Management, and a Doctorate of Education. She is a lifelong learner, always seeking to understand issues from all sides, with a keen ability to see the forest for the trees.

Judith’s life experiences guide her advocacy for things that are important to me and my family like strong public schools, funded equitably for all stakeholders; job training that answers the needs of a rapidly changing market; living wage and pay equity; livable housing and 21st century transportation and communication infrastructure; and affordable health and family care. She doesn’t play partisan politics; she solves problems to achieve the best outcomes for all stakeholders.

I’ve been with Judith as she talks to folks of all political stripes and backgrounds in communities from Dallastown to York City to Delta. I believe she will represent the best interests of all of the people of Senate District 28 and make an outstanding servant leader, something we need more of in Harrisburg.

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