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On the ballot

Ann’s Choice resident running for Pennsylvania’s 29th District

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November 3rd, 2016
Ann’s Choice resident Larry Mullins, a Democrat, is running against Republican incumbent Bernie O’Neill to represent Pennsylvania’s 29th District in the State Assembly.

Ann’s Choice resident Larry Mullins, a Democrat, is running against Republican incumbent Bernie O’Neill to represent Pennsylvania’s 29th District in the State Assembly.

At its core, the 2016 presidential election will be a referendum on change.  

That sentiment is contagious and has also impacted down-ballot races, including one in Pennsylvania’s 29th District, which includes Ann’s Choice, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Bucks County.

Following a successful write-in campaign initiated by campus group Progressives for Positive Change (P4+C), Ann’s Choice resident Larry Mullins is challenging incumbent, seven-term representative Bernie O’Neill to represent the District in the State Assembly. 

Five Ann’s Choice residents started P4+C. While Ann’s Choice has a number of lecture and discussion groups, P4+C’s members aspire to go beyond that to play informed and active roles on issues that affect their lives.

“We think there’s been inaction on important issues at the statehouse level,” Larry says. “[My running for office] is not about party; it’s about change.” 

For the record, O’Neill is a Republican; Larry is a Democrat.

Larry aims to put across a different viewpoint on current issues, not necessarily to win. 

If not for him stepping up, O’Neill would have run unopposed for the third consecutive time. 

It was the state funding cuts to education that motivated Larry to run. 

Campaign mode

He entered the race just nine days before Pennsylvania’s April primary election. Needing 300 votes to get his name on the November ballot, Larry garnered 304, 196 votes from Ann’s Choice and 108 from elsewhere in the district.

If elected, he promises to initiate movement at the statehouse level. “We can’t keep kicking the can down the road,” Larry says. “The bottom line is: What kind of state do we want Pennsylvania to be?”

Initially naïve about campaigning, he now has a manager, fundraising schedule, palm and business cards, and a T-shirt bearing his slogan “Moving Forward.” He considers fundraising the toughest part of campaigning. 

Larry isn’t juggling his campaign commitments against household chores because he and his wife Lisa, along with all of their neighbors, live maintenance-free at Ann’s Choice. But he has reduced his campus activities to a few that he and Lisa participate in together.

They help sponsor a chamber music program, often facilitate an interfaith spirituality group, and serve on Ann’s Choice’s interfaith and ecumenical councils.

Very soon now, Larry will either return to the full life he’d been leading at Ann’s Choice, or he will find himself embarking on an exciting new one. 

He knows he’s a dark-horse candidate but is buoyed by supportive letters to the editor and an editorial noting that his candidacy gives 29th District voters a choice. 

Of the District’s roughly 63,000 eligible voters, some 31,000 turned out in 2012.

“I want to make a good fight of it,” Larry says, “because when people contribute money, you have a responsibility to do your very best. In a sense, we’ve already won because we have a public platform for what we believe, and we’re getting our message out.”

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