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republican

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When visiting a close friend his family at West Point, Ryan Aument visited was taken by the atmosphere.  “The uniqueness of going to a military school… I became interested in becoming a military officer.”  He ultimately set his sights on The Citadel, becoming the first in his family of his generation to go to college.  His father, who held jobs as a dairy farmer and trucker, didn’t have military experience, but both he and Aument’s mother emphasized the value of education.

“My mom would talk about the heart of the American dream.  She would say, ‘I want you to have more doors and opportunities opened for you.’  She had a love of history, and we took family day trips to historical sites like Valley Forge, Gettysburg and Washington, D.C.”  He smiles as he remembers one of his mother’s most important activities.  “She kept a scrapbook for me of newspaper clippings of major news events the times when I was a child.  I have those scrapbooks – we did it together.  My mom, who did not go to college, who grew up on a farm, had a bigger sense of the world and global events than other people… that is important.”

A self-proclaimed child of the 80s, Aument grew up admiring public figures such as Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp and George H.W. Bush.  In high school, he began actively volunteering on campaigns as a member of the Lancaster County Republican committee.  Later, during his time serving on active Army duty, partially in Iraq, he wasn’t able to stay as involved with politics, but he paid attention.  When he returned home, he went through a period he feels is common to many veterans, asking himself: “Now what?”

Wanting to find something as rewarding and fulfilling as active duty, and feeling fortunate that he was able to come home, he decided he had an obligation to serve.  He focused on public service, working to elect George W. Bush for a second term.  It wasn’t until the infamous pay raise of 2005 in Harrisburg that he took a serious look at personally running for the House in 2006.  “I was offended and outraged at the July 2005 pay raise, especially at those who identified themselves as strong fiscal conservatives… until they benefited,” he says.

Ultimately, he didn’t run in 2006, opting instead to help his friend, Bryan Cutler, now the House majority whip, win.  Aument was Cutler’s campaign manager, and assumed that by helping Cutler, he was effectively passing up his own opportunity to join the legislature.  However, four years later, Aument and his family had moved to a different district, and when a House seat came up, he decided it was time for a run.

Having been a campaign manager, he is honest when discussing his own campaign.  Laughing, he admits, “I was probably a difficult candidate.  It gave me a great appreciate for my campaign team.”  He won the seat, served two terms, and went on to be elected to the Senate in 2014.  Aument is passionate about building opportunities for society, such as promoting strong families, strong communities, a quality education system and free enterprise.

Yet Aument is adamant that without his wife’s support, he wouldn’t be able to serve.  “You have to be in it together,” he avers.  “This was not my wife’s dream.  But we feel we’ve been given this privilege.  We’ve been called at this point in life to provide a public service as a family, so we sacrifice as a family.”

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Rob Teplitz

 

Rob Teplitz may have been born in Miami, but he’s become a Pennsylvanian through-and-through.  His family moved to the Commonwealth when he was still a toddler, and made the midstate their home.  Today, Teplitz is following in his parents’ footsteps, working with his wife to raise their sons in what he feels is a great place to grow up.

Though politics wasn’t a mainstay of dinner conversation in his own household, he was still driven toward a career that would help him serve the public.  Thus, he attended Franklin & Marshall College, earning his undergraduate degree, and went on to graduate from Cornell Law School.  “It seemed that a law license would be an asset regardless of what I ultimately did,” he says.

His hunch proved correct.  A few years after he started practicing, he landed a job working for Bob Casey, Jr.  He advised Casey and his team for five years, and then went on to the position of chief counsel and policy director at the Pennsylvania Department of the Auditor General under Jack Wagner, for about a decade.  At the end of Wagner’s second term, Teplitz was faced with the reality that although he had never considered running for an elected position, he was in an excellent position.

“It was 2010,” he recalls.  “I realized I could be in the job where I could serve the community.  It was the right time.”

With the support of his wife, also an attorney, albeit in a non-traditional law career, he threw his hat into a ring that he was familiar with, having been through half-a-dozen other statewide campaigns and local races.  Still, having never served as the candidate before, he didn’t know what to expect from the eyes of the principle.  “Exciting is one word,” he notes when talking about his run for Senate.  “It’s exciting… but it’s also exhausting.  Campaigns are very challenging.  The dynamic is unique; some things you have control over, and some you don’t.  The personal stakes are higher.”

In November 2012, he was rewarded for his perseverance and determination by being elected to the 15th District.  It was the beginning of what he considers to be one of his greatest responsibilities.  His geographic territory, like many other Senators’, is incredibly diverse despite spanning only two counties.  “It’s been a great opportunity for me to see and do things, and meet people, I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” he explains.  “It’s urban and suburban; there are rural farmers and people who live in the urban city.  There are strong – and challenged – schools.  It’s a microcosm of the state.”

To serve such a varied constituency, Teplitz utilizes his ability to listen and communicate.  His main focal points are on schools, jobs, government reform and the Harrisburg financial crisis, and he’s been pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie he shares with elected officials on both sides of the aisle.  “Most of my colleagues are cordial behind the scenes.  I wasn’t privy to those kinds of interactions when I was a staff member.  The casual discussions before and after meetings, or on the floor, are really friendly.”

Of course, when he requires some downtime from his busy schedule, he only has to throw on his running shoes and hit the roads in and around his neighborhood, as well as along the scenic Susquehanna River route.  He can also be seen at one of his children’s activities, or indulging in a little TV after everyone else has called it a night.

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