Kathleen Coder, 52, announced her candidacy in February for the Republican nomination to the Pennsylvania State House, 16th Legislative District. She will face off in Tuesday's primary for the Republican nomination with , who announced his candidacy in January. Both are vying for the seat currently held by Democratic State Rep. Rob Matzie, D, Ambridge.
Coder lives in Bellevue with her husband, Ron Coder and their Maltese Sugar.
Find out more about the candidate in Patch's Q&A.
Patch: What is your primary reason for running?
Coder: “I want to use my background and experience to make a difference in our State’s future. I desire to help create a sustainable flourishing state and region for the next generation. I am not looking for a ‘job,’ or to be a career politician. I think we need people in Harrisburg who know how to lead from a foundation of integrity and principle-centered decision making. I would like to use my leadership, local government and business experience to help be part of a team who can create positive change.”
Patch: What will be your top priority?
Coder: “To serve the people by putting their needs ahead of politics, party and self-serving agendas. To create a vision and plan to make Pennsylvania one of the most thriving states in the nation by reducing government size, spending and taxes while creating jobs and opportunities for economic development.”
Patch: What sets you apart from the other candidate(s)?
Coder: “I have a consistent, proven track record that I can lead in both the private and public sector. I also have been intimately involved in all parts of this district, not just one town. I work with many national/international clients and travel extensively. I think this has given me the opportunity to have a broader perspective and bring new ideas and innovative thinking to Harrisburg and the district.”
Patch: What’s your favorite thing about the 16th District?
Coder: “I love the fact that this district is very diverse. It encompasses two counties and many towns that represent both ends of the financial spectrum. It takes me back to my roots in Beaver County, and gives me a chance to serve the people who supported me in my youth as well as all the wonderful people I have met while serving in local government in Allegheny County. It is packed full of potential and people who genuinely care about the future of their district. It energizes and humbles me to think I could serve them.”
Patch: What issues do you see as the most important?
Coder: “There are so many issues that are important; however, at the forefront has to be getting our financial house in order. We need to reduce spending on many fronts. For starters:
1. Cuts need to start at the top--I think we, as elected officials, need to role model what we want others to do. It needs to start with more accountability for legislators (example: I am not taking the state pension and will report my expenses and receipts for the per diems).
2. We need to look at ways to bring businesses into Pennsylvania and make it more attractive for employers to move here and create jobs for the region (example: reduce corporate and business
3. There needs to be a plan to overhaul the property tax and assessment process---it’s not working.”
Patch: What’s the biggest problem facing the state?
Coder: “It’s leadership. The definition for insanity is to keep doing what you’re doing and think you’re going to get different results. Year after year, we keep hearing about the same issues and nothing changes. Obviously we need new thinking and people who have the courage, character, competence and commitment to make change happen. We need to get the right people on the bus in the right seats and come together for the common good of our State---I think if we do that many of the problems will start being resolved.”
Patch: Anything else you’d like to add?
Coder: “Never in a million years would I have envisioned that I would be running for office. Four years ago, my business was thriving, life was comfortable. Then I attended my first council meeting, and my life was turned upside down. I saw a lack of leadership and competence. It violated every good leadership practice I was ever taught! I was convinced that I had no right to complain unless I was willing to get my hands dirty and get involved. Since then I have been passionate about getting others educated and involved as well. I believe government can be better. Elected office was never intended to be a career path: I have spent over 20 years in the private sector learning from wise mentors and business leaders. I have translated my learnings into my public service, applying principle-centered, servant leadership. I realize that elected office is a stewardship and an honor. I do not take this role lightly. I commit to governing justly, fairly and upholding the constitution.”
She holds a bachelor's degree in communications from Edinboro Universityand a master's degree in organizational leadership from Geneva College.
She is currently president and CEO of Inta-Great, a consulting consortium that provides multigenerational training and development solutions to a wide variety of organizations to increase their effectiveness.
In addition to her role in Inta-Great, Coder currently serves on Bellevue Council and served as its president from 2008 – 2011. As president, she worked with both Democrats and Republicans, neighboring communities, Pittsburgh and Allegheny County in order to move her community forward. As a result of her efforts, she said Bellevue was awarded more grant money than it had ever received during her tenure as president.
Coder is involved with a number of organizations, including founding BIGr (Bellevue Initiative for Growth and Revitalization) and WILLOW (Women in Leadership Leading other Women). She is also an active member of Bellevue Christian Church.
To learn more about Coder, revisit .
The Pennsylvania primary is scheduled for April 24. Click here for more information about local races and candidates. Check back with Patch for coverage of other local races and more candidate profiles.