Reporter-turned-politician Elizabeth Fiedler seeks to represent the 184th district.

If you talk to Fiedler, you might recognize her voice; she was a politics and community affairs reporter for WHYY, Philadelphia’s local NPR-affiliate newsradio station.

Elizabeth Fiedler knew it wouldn’t be easy.

“We got health insurance through my job,” Fiedler said, “so that’s one thing that was a really challenge for me was deciding whether to run.”

The “we” is Fiedler and her two young sons, Gus, 3, and 8-month-old Louis.

“I personally really struggled with the health-care system, and that’s something that I’ve heard from a lot of people across South Philly at community meetings,” Fiedler said. “[It’s] is a struggle to get good health care.”

Fiedler, who is gunning for Bill Keller’s seat representing the 184th district in the state House of Representatives (Keller announced last week he would not seek re-election), is not a single-issue candidate, but she did call health care one of the “big reasons” she was motivated to run. Currently, her sons are covered through CHIP and Medicaid.

“I think that in this country all of us — every single person regardless of where we live, regardless of how much money we have — we should all have access to high quality health care,” she told the Review. “I want that for myself and my family and for all of my neighbors and every person.”

If you talk to Fiedler, you might recognize her voice; she was a politics and community affairs reporter for WHYY, Philadelphia’s local NPR-affiliate newsradio station. Her old job gave her the ability to get out into the city, meet real people and talk about the issues.

“It was a really great opportunity to talk with so many people across Philadelphia, across South Philly about what’s working for them, about what’s not working, what they would like to see government doing.”

Opioid addiction is another key issue for Fiedler. She said that she heard heartbreaking stories from her neighbors about family struggles with opioid addiction. Many residents asked her to make it a focus of her campaign, so she did.

“I very strongly believe that we need to treat drug addiction from a public health perspective — not solely from law enforcement,” she said. “We need to recognize that these folks who are struggling with drug addiction are people.”

At one point during the phone interview, Fiedler got a bit choked up when she recalled some of the drug-related stories residents have told her.

“Sorry, I’m here,” she said, apologizing for the brief break down. “I was just thinking about one of the women I spoke with who really was — she got really emotional when she was talking to me.”

But it begs the question: How does Fiedler feel about safe-injection sites? She wouldn’t give a definitive yes or no, but made it clear she was open to the idea.

“I want to see Philadelphia become a national leader in the way that we address drug addiction,” she said, “and I think [the implementation of safe-injection sites] is one way that could happen.”

Fiedler is from Bloomsburg and didn’t make the move into the city until 2004. Some may think of city folks and those who live in rural areas as two completely different types of people, but Fiedler doesn’t see it that way.
“There’s so many similarities,” she said about the two different worlds. “Struggles to find jobs that pay a wage that folks can support their family on and not worrying about paying the bills every month. Struggles to find jobs that pay a living wage and health care, absolutely. Access to health care [is one thing] I hear from people out [in the rural parts of the state] all the time and I hear from people in South Philly.”

According to Fiedler, there are two major challenges she faces every day as a politician who’s running for office for the first time. The first is fundraising. Her campaign, she said, raised $53,000 in 2017.

“I came from working class,” Fiedler said. “I’m not rich. I’m not used to $53,000. Like, just that number has so many zeros.”

Fiedler said she found the idea of raising enough money to run a strong campaign “a little bit daunting,” and talked about the awkwardness of calling people she hasn’t talked to in awhile in an attempt to get them to donate money.

“It’s tough to ask for money,” she said.

The second major challenge she faces is maintaining “balance” in her private and public lives.

“I also have a husband and two little kids,” she said. “Finding some time on a daily basis between my professional life as a candidate and my family — it’s a work in progress. … It can be a challenge finding that balance and making sure that [you need to] spend time with your family to get good quality [family] time and have some time to rest also.”

Louis, who was 3 months old when his mom announced her candidacy, is far too young to understand what’s going on. His older brother, however — he gets it. Kind of.

“Gus is much more aware of what’s going on,” Fiedler said. “I’ve tried to explain to him why I’m doing this and I think some of it he really gets. He’s 3, but he understands equality and justice and whether things are fair and so in his own sort of 3-year-old old way, I think he does understand.”