Matt Ferrence of Meadville formally has announced his candidacy for the Democratic Party's nomination for Pennsylvania's House of Representatives 6th District in 2020.
The 6th District encompasses central Crawford County and a portion of south-central Erie County. The 2020 primary election is April 28.
Ferrence has worked as a literary scholar and writer for 20 years, focusing on how stories shape our lives. He is an associate professor and chair of the English Department at Allegheny College in Meadville.
Ferrence said he steps into the House race "recognizing that we need to write a different story for a more sustainable future in northwestern Pennsylvania."
Ferrence said he understands "how the struggles northwestern Pennsylvania faces are connected to the tired stories of Appalachia and the Rust Belt that have long told residents that the people don’t deserve better, that they don’t matter, and that their lives aren’t ever in the budget."
Ferrence said he believes we need to establish a foundation for long-term living in northwestern Pennsylvania "instead of continuing to play into the hands of long-standing dynamics of austerity politics and exploitation."
The region’s elected officials must focus on a new vision that improves the lives of the people of northwestern Pennsylvania and not on policies that favor the industries and politicians who want or even need the region to remain trapped in a perpetual boom-bust cycle, according to Ferrence.
He said the area needs representation that helps the area thrive together, not just hang in there; that asks how we can make life better for everyone, instead of always saying that costs too much.
Ferrence said "what we choose to afford tells us a lot about what and who we value."
Ferrence’s platform emphasizes health care, the environment and education. He said "we all deserve to be healthy, that stewardship of our land makes all of our lives better, and that investments in strong public schools and universities establish foundations for more vibrant futures for our children, ourselves, and our region."
A native of western Pennsylvania having been born and raised in Indiana County, Ferrence lives in Meadville with his wife and two children.
￼Ferrence is the author of two books: "All-American Redneck" (2014, University of Tennessee Press) and "Appalachia North: a memoir" (2019, West Virginia University Press). His essays have been published widely in North American literary journals, including in the 2018 Best American Travel Writing.
Ferrence has a bachelor degree in English from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in American literature from West Virginia University.
He has been a member of the faculty of Allegheny College since 2011. In addition to being an associate professor and department chair at Allegheny, he has served as co-chair of the college's Finance and Facilities Committee and as a member of its Faculty Review and its Council on Equity and Diversity committees.
Ferrence also is the faculty adviser for the Allegheny College Association-Nancy Sheridan Scholar Program, which awards tuition-free Allegheny enrollment to Crawford County women older than 25 who have limited prior post-secondary education experience.