By Angelique H. Caffrey
Steve Bloom has faith in young people, so much faith that he entrusted his first House of Representatives run to two 19-year-olds from Messiah College in Grantville. The result? He was elected in 2010, and is grateful to them for their unwavering service as his campaign managers. “They did a tremendous job,” Bloom avers. “They impressed me. We beat some candidates who were well-established in the public realm.”
Taking the path not traveled was a gamble that paid off, and it represents his grassroots, open-minded approach to politics. To save money during his campaign, he asked his oldest daughter to design his posters and door hangers. His youngest daughter accompanied him as he traveled around the district, lamenting when the election process was over because she found it so enjoyable.
Since entering the Pennsylvania legislature during his 2011 swear-in, Bloom has sought ways to give high school and college students an opportunity to see and experience politics. In some cases, their schools offer credits for a practicum or unpaid internship with his office. “They end up being excited about making a difference,” he explains.
Bloom’s own road to the House was anything but predictable. A husband and father of three children, as well as an attorney living and working in the Carlisle area, he was always willing to volunteer to benefit his neighbors and friends. Yet he never wanted to run for public office because he felt it would take time away from his familial responsibilities. However, in 2009, he had an epiphany.
“I was concerned about the direction the country was taking… something more needed to happen. The gentleman who was state rep for [the 199th] district announced that he wasn’t running for reelection. I felt it was the right time.” After talking to his wife, pastor and trusted friends, the lawyer who had his own practice and was an adjunct professor at Messiah College dove into an intense, seven-way primary. He admits, “It wasn’t part of my life plan, but I always wanted to make a positive difference. It’s the right thing for me now.”
Ironically, his children are fine with his incredibly busy schedule. Each is an adult with his or her own interests, so he has time to focus on serving the public. It’s as time-consuming as he expected… and more. “I knew conceptually it would be a busy lifestyle, but until I lived it, I didn’t realize it,” he says. He has especially been surprised at the importance of the ceremonial aspects of the job, such as showing up at an Eagle Scout ceremony or giving a public speech during a 9/11 event at the Army War College. The latter made him feel “inadequate and blessed”, having never served in the military. “I was so warmly received,” he recalls. “It was such an encouragement.”
To counterbalance the tremendous pace of the job, Bloom tries to set aside Sundays as a source of “space, sanity and perspective”, although those plans don’t always come to fruition. On the occasions when he’s not working, he reads, which has been his number one downtime pursuit since the first grade. Books on Lyndon Johnson, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton and Ulysses S. Grant highlight his significant interest in politics and history. A self-professed ideologically-driven individual, he describes how he reads to better understand those who are more driven by power than dogma. “I’m trying to understand how to deal with those types of people.”
Bloom may have a passion for reading and writing, but he also carries a dark secret: he didn’t inherit his father’s mathematics gene. Fortunately, Algebra is a little-needed requirement for legislators.
Rep Stephen Bloom, a Republican, represents the 199th District.