Kristy Gnibus, a mom of two young girls, a cancer survivor, community leader and a public-school teacher in Erie, filed paperwork to run for Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District.
Gnibus, a Democrat, expects to face incumbent Congressman Mike Kelly, a Republican, if she wins in the Democratic primary.
Gnibus said she was raised in rural Erie County by her mother, a Navy veteran and U.S. Postal Service worker, Gnibus said in a news release announcing her candidacy. She lives in Erie, where she raises her daughters, teaches at McDowell Intermediate School and volunteers in her community.
Like too many teachers, she knows what it’s like to struggle and sometimes works a second or third job just to make ends meet for her family, the campaign said. As the first person in her family to graduate from college, Gnibus grew up understanding first-hand the importance of hard work and putting family first.
“I’m not like most members of Congress,” Gnibus said in the release. “They just don’t understand what people like me go through every day. My mom taught me from an early age that I’d have to work for everything I got. I’m passing that lesson on to my daughters and I’m running for Congress so families like ours in western Pennsylvania — families who work for a living — will finally have someone in Washington representing them.
“I know this won’t be easy, but the deck has been stacked against me before — and I didn’t quit then," she said. "While I was in college, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when I was pregnant with my first daughter. That gave me a real understanding of how difficult it can be for people who aren’t millionaires to get the care they need. Now I’m going through it again with my own kids, navigating insurance companies and bureaucracy to make sure they can get the medicine they need."
Gnibus said the district needs a representative who understands that you shouldn’t have to work two or three jobs to provide for your family, that getting sick shouldn’t bankrupt you, and a pre-existing condition shouldn’t be a death sentence.
"Young people shouldn’t have to take on crushing debt just to go to college and kids shouldn’t have to worry about getting shot at school," she said.
“I’m going to work night and day to build a grassroots campaign that can win all across this district — and I won’t take a dime from corporate political action committees because this campaign isn’t about them — it’s about people.”
Gnibus said her life experience is a clear contrast with Washington politician Kelly, who in his near decade in Congress has only done the bidding of corporations, greedy CEOs and the wealthy.