Bucks County Beacon Writer Spotlight: Lela Casey

As part of our Fall Fund Drive, we are showcasing some of our writers so you can learn more about the people and journalism that you are supporting.
Lela Casey's writing has focused on Central Bucks School District, where she lives.

How did you first get into journalism and writing?

I have been aware of the immense power of words since I was very little. Growing up as the only Jewish, only first-generation kid in my community, I relied on books to ease my loneliness and help me understand that the world was much bigger than my small town. Reading was my escape from the harsh bullying and alienation I so often felt. 

This love of words carried with me into motherhood. As I read my children stories, I saw the sheer joy and light that shone in their eyes. I realized that I wanted to be part of creating that light. I wanted to write things that would help enlighten, inspire, or even just entertain people. 

I began by writing children’s stories, first just for my kids, and then to share with friends. As my kids got a little older, I started writing essays for parenting and Jewish sites.

Eventually, a local magazine called Radius saw my essays and asked if I would do some entertainment journalism for them. I had the great privilege of interviewing legends such as Ani DiFranco, the Pixies, and Henry Rollins. 

Despite the title of entertainment journalist, I never really thought of myself as a journalist. I was just a storyteller. Someone who was lucky enough to be able to share both my own and others’s stories. 

Then came the school board election of 2021. Seeing the havoc that the right-wing candidates were bringing to our community gave me a sense of powerlessness. It seemed like there was nothing we could do to stop this wave of extremism. 

So, I went back to the one strength that had held me up throughout my life: words. I started to write. First, just public comments, later OpEds and articles. With every new piece I wrote I felt stronger, more in control. I began to realize that I had both a voice and the bravery to use it. 

Through journalism I rediscovered the power of words and I haven’t stopped writing since. 

What is your approach to journalism? Why do you write and what do you hope to accomplish with your articles? 

My journalism has been very focused on local issues, particularly school board related. Whether I’m writing an OpEd or a more journalistic piece, I do my best to provide evidence and be truthful in any claims that I’m making. We all have bias, but using misinformation to prove points damages our credibility as writers and people. 

Currently, I am most focused on raising awareness to the dire situation we are in at Central Bucks School District, particularly as to how it connects to the greater rise of extremism in America and the world. I hope that my articles will inspire people to educate themselves further on the issues and take action to ensure our District remains a safe and welcome place for everyone. 

What do you think are the most important issues that we face today, and why? 

The rise of extremism and religious fanaticism are issues that are plaguing us across the globe. My family is Israeli and I’ve been deeply affected by the human tragedy that is unfolding there. While what’s happening in Israel may seem far away, the truth is there are very local connections. Jeffrey Yass (the wealthiest person in Pennsylvania and a major donor to Paul Martino’s right-wing Back to School PAC) is a key funder of the Kohelet Policy Forum, which is working to reshape the political system and further an extreme far-right agenda that leads to more destabilization in an already volatile region. 

Knowing that the same man is using his money to cause chaos both in Israel and right here in Central Bucks has helped me understand how important it is we take a stand on these local issues. While they may seem small in the grand scheme of things, the truth is that stopping extremism here can have a ripple effect throughout the country and even the world. 

Which publications and journalists do you follow? 

It is very important to me to try to understand different perspectives around each issue. I’ve found The Week to be a good source for national and international news because it gives me a window into both the right-wing and left-wing perspective on issues.

Locally, I read the Beacon, of course. I also regularly read articles from the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Courier.

Why is it important for people to support independent media outlets like the Bucks County Beacon? 

Independent media outlets like the Beacon play an important role in strengthening democracy through transparency and accessible information, free of corporate or government bias. I am so grateful to be a part of the Bucks County Beacon community. 

Lela’s articles:

Voters Can Stop Book Banning in Central Bucks School District

Central Bucks School District Voters Can Choose Compassion and Common Sense Over Extremism This Election

New ACLU Complaint Reveals Central Bucks School District Lied to the Community, Illegally Retaliated Against Teacher

Central Bucks School District’s Right-Wing Board Majority Awards Superintendent for His Loyalty With 40 Percent Pay Hike

OPINION: The Hypocrisy of Bucks County ‘Outsider’ Paul Martino

Central Bucks School District Embarrassed Itself with Show Trial of ACLU LGBTQ Discrimination Complaint

Q&A: Author Jean Kwok on Her Experiences Defending Her Novel ‘Girl in Translation’ at Central Bucks School District

Why We Shouldn’t Censor Roald Dahl’s Books

3-2-1 Protest: Central Bucks Community Demonstrates Against Education Gag Policy

Support progressive, independent media.

Picture of Cyril Mychalejko

Cyril Mychalejko

Cyril Mychalejko is the Editor-in-Chief of the Bucks County Beacon. Read his columns on Sundays and follow him on Twitter.

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