Pennsylvania State Representative Matt Gabler spoke during common hour on Thursday about his background in politics and responded to questions from the audience.
Gabler graduated from Bucknell University on a four-year Army R.O.T.C. scholarship and earned his bachelor of arts degree in political science with a minor in physics.
Gabler was first elected in 2008 to the 75th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. For the 2015 to 2016 session, he is serving on four committees: Environmental Resources and Energy, Finance, Game and Fisheries, and State Government. He represents around 64,000 people.
The discussion began with Gabler describing his initial campaign when he was 24 and running against an 18-year incumbent legislator.
“I was not being considered the one to win,” Gabler said. “I was the underdog.”
Gabler said he had never planned to run, but noticed a lot of issues in his hometown and surrounding areas. When working as a research analyst he began to see how state government had an effect on daily life.
“I was interested in the issues and I disagreed with some of the decisions being made,” Gabler said.
The man that Gabler worked for asked if he had thought about being a state representative and Gabler expressed concern about not being taken seriously. The man he worked for said that if Gabler took himself seriously then others would take him seriously.
“I think about that a lot,” Gabler said. “I think one of the things that adults do is they send a message to young people that someday you’ll matter, someday you’ll do something important. They send that message when they talk down to them by looking at them in a marginal way. It sends the message that someday is not today.”
Gabler then had the opportunity to have a campaign, knocking on eight thousand doors and discussing issues with them.
“It’s a good education to hear feedback from different houses,” Gabler said.
After giving his political background, Gabler took questions from the audience. One question asked what Gabler found to be the most surprisingly useful skill.
“Writing: the ability to sit down and write a cohesive thought and do it in a cohesive way,” Gabler said. “I think that is absolutely essential in any professional realm.”
Gabler also gave advice for those interested in entering a career in government or political science, saying that there are various opportunities such as working on a staff, in county government or advocacy groups.
“Whether you’re a young Conservative or a young Democrat, there are organizations out there, I encourage you to go in and get your feet wet,” Gabler said.