Lower Makefield Democrat Debbie Wachspress announced her candidacy during a news conference Wednesday. County Prothonotary will also run as a Democrat, setting up a primary race.

It’s early, but next year’s race in Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District is starting to take shape.

Lower Makefield Democrat and Pennsbury school board member Debbie Wachspress joined the list of those vying for Republican Brian Fitzpatrick’s seat when she announced her candidacy during a news conference attended by supporters and the media in the backyard of her home.

Wachspress is the second Democrat to publicly declare her intention to run and to announce she has filed the necessary paperwork, joining fellow Lower Makefield resident and Bucks County Prothonotary Judi Reiss.

On the Republican side, Fitzpatrick, of Middletown, has filed to run for a third two-year term and Andrew Meehan has announced he will challenge the incumbent in the 2020 GOP primary, according to politicspa.com. This news organization was unsuccessful in attempts to reach Fitzpatrick or his campaign staffers Wednesday, but Bucks County Republican Chair Pat Poprik confirmed Fitzpatrick is running again next year.

Wachspress, 53, said at Wednesday’s news conference that’s she’s running for higher office because she’s never been one to sit on the sidelines when she feels there needs to be change.

“On Nov. 9, 2016, I woke up feeling like I was kicked in the stomach,” she said, referring to President Donald Trump’s election.

“Months of attacks on everyone, immigrants, people of color, women, Muslims, a Gold Star family, the press, the facts, the truth. What planet were we now living on? Watching this kind of bad reality show really shook me to the core. My pet peeve, as my entire family knows, is when people would rather sit around and complain than find something to do to change things. I’ve always been a doer and a problem solver, that’s just how I’m wired.”

Handouts provided at Wednesday’s event detailed Wachspress’ positions on issues like health care, reproductive rights, the environment, gun violence, immigration and several others.

 

“Roe vs. Wade must remain the law of the land,” she said to the applause of those gathered. “Without control over our own bodies, there is no equality. With the new makeup of the Supreme Court and states like Alabama and Georgia taking a hammer to reproductive rights, I will fight to keep access to a safe abortion legal by passing a federal law to codify Roe v. Wade.”

Wachspress said she favors universal background checks on the sale of all firearms and supports prohibiting the sale of guns that fire large rounds of ammunition.

On health care, Wachspress said she believes “universal, affordable, quality care is a basic human right. I support building upon the Affordable Care Act by making a public option available for anyone who wants it and to lower premiums.”

Wachspress is in her second four-year term on the Pennsbury school board and has been a representatives from Region 1 since 2014. She said she will continue on the school board while running for Congress but has left her full-time job as relationship development director at the Langhorne-based nonprofit The Peace Center so she can can devote more time and energy to the campaign.

Reiss, a former Lower Makefield supervisor, said Wednesday she is looking forward to the race. The retired marketing manager and former teacher won her county seat in 2017.

“I know Deb and wish her well, but I’ve always looked at running for public office as not running against someone, but for an office,” Reiss said. “I’m running because I think we need change and I want to listen to and hear what people have to say, and that includes people who may not vote for me. I’m tired of business as usual and want government that is more open and transparent. It will be fun and interesting and lively, and it will be good for people in the district to hear all of our ideas.”

Meehan said in the politicspa.com article that although Trump is not perfect, he fully supports the president and that Fitzpatrick is a “Democrat masquerading as a Republican. Come April 2020, people will be able to vote for an actual Republican.”