KENNETT >> Whitney Hoffman believes government should be more transparent, and it’s one of the reasons she is running against Republican Steve Barrar in the 160th district.
The 160th state legislative district covers Birmingham, Pocopson, Thornbury, Kennett and Kennett Square in Chester County. It covers several other municipalities in Delaware County.
Hoffman, a native of Rochester, N.Y., who now lives in Kennett Township, is an advocate for children with learning disabilities and helps to teach parents and educators how to effectively teach children with special needs. She heads up Hoffman Digital Media and is a member of the Professional Development Committee for Kennett Consolidated School District. She has a degree in developmental biology from Penn and a law degree from Dickinson School.
Hoffman is involved in the district’s schools and often teaches podcasting video production at Kennett’s After-the-Bell program. She believes education should be a priority with lawmakers.
“We have to keep focused on the kids, not the adults,” she said, noting that much education funding such as money that goes toward pensions doesn’t get into the classroom. “When we talking about adults, we’re not talking about the impact of kids in the classroom.”
Hoffman backs legislation that protects families and supports a living wage. She supports a business climate that encourages entrepreneurship.
Hoffman is a big advocate of open space.
“Certainly, people living on the west side of Route 202 feel open space is a religion,” she said. “Concord Township is wrestling with it. “There’s already so much development in Upper Chichester and they take less of a direct hit. But we need to preserve land. It’s what makes the quality of life great around here. It’s a reason why people move here.”
Hoffman said much work needs to be done on the region’s infrastructure.
“My opponent, Steve Barrar, has been trying to fix Route 322 (Conchester Highway) for years, and what has he achieved?” she said. “I drive my husband to the airport and I have to factor in 45 extra minutes. Steve votes continuously against the transportation bill. He said he doesn’t want to see a rise in the gas tax.”
She said legislators should make a priority of adequately funding roads and bridges.
Real tax reform, Hoffman said, is sorely needed in Harrisburg.
“Property taxes are going up, about 3 percent a year,” she said. “I was paying $1,200 a year in Delaware, but $8,000 when I moved here and now my school and property taxes are $11,000. I knocked on a lot of doors and people said the schools here are fantastic, but they were considering moving to Delaware. A full 21 percent of taxes go to paying pension debt.”
Hoffman said if elected, she would become an advocate for seniors.
“Let’s make it so seniors don’t feel so burdened,” she said. “We will have to look at fair funding formulas across the board and figure it out. State legislators need to act.”
Regarding pension reform, Hoffman said the state must live up to promises it made.
“People built their lives around those promises and we can’t pull the rug from under them, it’s not fair,” she said. “I think we can start with a 401(k) program (for new hires). We should gradually phase it in.”
Hoffman said her best qualification for the job is that she enjoys helping people and she has common sense when it comes to spending money. She also wants to end government waste.
“This is a public service job,” she said. “We need to spend the public’s money like it’s coming out of our own pocket. We have a sacred trust with taxpayers to spend every dollar wisely. The government spent $350,000 to make a beautiful iPad app so kids in Garnet Valley could study Keystone Exams more effectively. But the kids that are struggling with Keystone Exams are the kids in Kennett and Upper Chichester. We need to spend money wisely.”
If elected, she said she would be accessible to her constituents.
“I am about building communities,” she said. “I will make sure people stay well informed and that the state web site is better funded. Ultimately, it’s about making government more efficient and more transparent and more responsible to the taxpayers.”