Burke seeks 80th District seat
HOLLIDAYSBURG — For the first time in more than 40 years, a Democrat could once again sit as a state representative for the state 80th Legislative District, a position currently filled by Judy Ward.
Attorney Laura Burke officially announced she is running as a Democratic candidate at the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library on Wednesday.
Burke, who works with survivors of domestic abuse through the Family Services Inc. Justice Project, said she decided to run because of the lack of resources available to her clients and others in the community.
“I think a lot of people in Blair County don’t understand that there are people here who are struggling to put food on the table, are struggling day-to-day with lack of transportation, lack of jobs that pay a living wage,” Burke said. “I think that somebody needs to bring those voices out. We can make the community as a whole better when we take care of all of our citizens.”
“Yes, on a case-by-case basis, I am helping my clients in court,” Burke added. “But if I run for office, I can maybe make some changes on a broader policy level that will help more people and not just the people who qualify for my services as an attorney.”
Donna Gority, who serves with Burke on the Women Involved in Scholarship and Empowerment Women organization, said “I live in this district, and as a Democrat, there has not been an opportunity to vote for a Democratic candidate for state legislator for quite some time.”
“I have a great deal of respect for her (Burke) as an attorney, as a bright young woman, as a board member where I work with her,” Gority added. “I’m absolutely thrilled to have an opportunity to support her and encourage others to support her.”
Before Rep. Judy Ward, R-Hollidaysburg, both Republicans Jerry Stern and Edwin Johnson, served more than 10 years as state representatives.
From 1977-78, Democrat Michael Cassidy served as the 80th District’s state representative.
If elected, Burke said she would like to raise minimum wage, restore funding for public education, modernize custody and support laws and look into government reform.
Gillian Kratzer, chairwoman of the Blair County Democratic Committee, said: “I am so excited about Laura Burke as a candidate. I think she’s incredibly qualified. She’s incredibly passionate. She really, truly has the best interests for this community at heart.”
Burke has been a Blair County resident for more than 12 years.
Mirror Staff Writer Shen Wu Tan is at 946-7457.