Connor O’Hanlon says, “I don’t shop on Amazon.” That is a political statement, as all things must be for him now that he is once again a candidate.
On Dec. 30 O’Hanlon announced his intention to run for a seat in the Pennsylvania Legislature, for the newly proposed District 29. The district would include Doylestown Township and Borough, Chalfont Borough, New Britain Borough, Buckingham Township, Solebury, and New Hope. The current District 29 seat is held by the Republican Meghan Schroeder of Buckingham. She will presumably seek to retain her seat.
Tonight, January 7, O’Hanlon’s campaign is throwing a live event upstairs at M.O.M.s in Doylestown, to launch his campaign, for those who might have missed the announcement because of, say, New Year’s Eve. Facebook and other remote possibilities are offered. “With covid, it’s such a bad time for all this stuff,” he says.
His comment about Amazon has a reason and it is not Jeff Bezos.
“My friends own stores here and work here – mom and pop shops,” says O’Hanlon, an accountant who grew up in Doylestown and who turns 26 this month. “Doylestown is a lively, small-town environment. Small businesses hire people and pay a living wage.” Thus, he shops locally. The economy, he says, is his number one concern.
He has long sought life as a public servant, even though law school was not for him. It started with his fascination for history, something easy to believe here, where lofty ideas of America were born. Those ideas included equality and justice. “I developed a strong sense of empathy growing up,” he says.
“At Penn State I met people who came from poverty areas, and I said, ‘I want to know what your experience is like.’”
“I’ve always thought if I could bear the weight of the powerless,” he said. Did we mention that O’Hanlon was elected head of the Doylestown Democratic party in 2020?
There are the powerless, and then there are his cadre of backers, many of them, he says, “among some of the most outspoken women in Bucks County.” If Connor O’Hanlon’s name sounds familiar in Doylestown, that’s because, a little like Lyndon LaRouche, he’s a budding perennial candidate. Lindsay Troyer was his campaign manager in the race he narrowly lost November 2, for tax collector in Doylestown Borough. He lost by 86 votes to 3,379.
“I had a feeling that something was going to be around the corner,” she says. “He’s so driven and motivated. He has all those qualities of a leader.”
Redistricting dropped that new District 29, centered on Doylestown, in their laps, in a matter of weeks. The old District 29 had been in Republican hands since 2003. Besides, Troyer says, the state legislature is a better fit for O’Hanlon. “This is where he is meant to be.” Spoken like a campaign manager.
He is eager to use his accounting skills to tackle the budgetary issues that will come with the billions Pennsylvania will be handedby the federal government under Build Back Better, “while protecting the environment,” he says.
O’Hanlon speaks of another issue close to his heart: the cost of home ownership. “I could barely afford to buy a house when I came back,” he says. If District 29 is to become a lively mix of people, there must be a way to let young people who have left for school, for service or for jobs to be able to move back home, he says. Or for less privileged people to move in.
When asked why his part of Bucks County has been so much in the spotlight lately, he paused, and then said, “I think Doylestown Township is a microcosm of the entire country. Far left, far right, people in the middle. Every election is a toss-up.”