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Rachael Richter, UPitt Student, Chimes in on Local Elections and Advocacy

Tuesday, November 14, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tyler Woodcook
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NASW-PA wants to thanks all social workers who came out to vote last week in the state and local races. Being involved in local politics is a great way to make a difference in your community. Rachael Richter, a Master’s of Social Work and Public Health Candidate from the University of Pittsburgh (MSW/MPH) volunteered for a local judicial race in the Pittsburgh community. She wrote a piece for us about the importance of social workers getting involved in local politics, and her experience volunteering for a campaign. Read about it below.


Rachael Richter (left), Master’s of Social Work and Public Health Candidate 2019, University of Pittsburgh, volunteering in local elections November 7, 2017.

Why do you think it is important for social workers to be active citizens in a democracy?

If you have chosen a career in social work or health care you are dedicated to a better future for your clients, patients, and community. Social justice issues are of high importance to social workers and getting involved in our political process is a great way to have an impact on the systems that affect the lives of our community members either directly or indirectly. Healthcare is one of the biggest issues facing many in the United States today. Individuals who have a better understanding of how the system works are in a better position to speak up about what they believe will increase people's health and wellbeing.

Looking forward towards the next elections in 2018 (primaries and midterms) what can social worker do to mobilize?

Social workers are always talking about the importance of knowing our resources and making connections across the community. These tools are essential for organizing for political campaigns and movements. Social workers are for the people, and we have an unique ability to work with the people to create change. Public health workers understand the large scale implications of health policies and procedures and can use that knowledge to educate community members on issues that can be difficult to view on such a large scale.

Why did you get involved in a district judgeship race?

I got involved because...
  1. I have wonderful friends who encouraged me to pay attention;
  2. I recognize the importance of getting involved in local politics. After the 2016 election when people were asking, "How do I make a difference?" many answered with "Get involved locally and watch it grow!" Local elections are an empowering way to make a real difference on a small scale toward change you hope to see grow to affect the nation;
  3. Our justice system is broken. Many people are aware of the issues with mass incarceration and the fact that our methods of punishment are not successful at making the changes we hope to see. The current system disproportionately harms those who are already disadvantaged in our culture and society and we need to make tangible steps to change this.


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