Interview: Middletown Township Supervisor Anna Payne Is Ready to Fight for Bucks County in Harrisburg

The Bucks County Democrat looks to take on PA 142nd House District incumbent – Republican Joe Hogan – who narrowly squeaked out a 76-vote victory last election.
Anna Payne hopes her campaign can give others hope, and inspire more people to fight for what they believe in.

Back in 2019 when I first decided to get more involved in local politics I was told I should meet with this woman who was running for Township Supervisor in Middletown. At that time, I had very few connections and really was just beginning to dip my toe into politics and local organizing. On a cold, but sunny January day in Doylestown I met Anna Payne. Her passion for bold policy change that stemmed from an empathetic worldview inspired me, whether she knew it or not. She has since become a major leader in Middletown after winning her election in 2019 to the Board of Supervisors and she has continued her advocacy work as we will discuss throughout this interview. 

Fundamentally I believe that in the era of extreme partisanship and vitriol, Anna has been a unifier and someone who approaches politics with a kind heart. We need more people like that in Harrisburg. I am happy to call Anna a friend and I hope that you consider supporting her candidacy after reading this article. You can contribute to her campaign for PA-142 here – 

2024 is a vital year for our democracy and Bucks County will play a huge role federally, but what issues do you plan on championing locally if you are elected to represent PA-142 in Harrisburg?

There are so many issues facing us right now; cost of living and that impacts everyone. It spans from our education to our groceries and even health care and our reproductive rights. I feel that our safety and well-being are important. We must have access to resources and programs that improve our quality of life and keep our community safe. Like resources and support for addiction and mental health, as well as support for our public safety. 

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, can you share a bit on why this is so important to you and why it needs to become more of a focus for our lawmakers and everyday people? (And why do you spell cancer with a K? – this can be deleted if you think not necessary)

We give that C word (cancer) so much power and when I was first diagnosed, I wanted to take some of its power away, so I decided to spell it with a K. I recently went to Harrisburg to speak and support legislation to ensure that people age 45 have access to life-saving colonoscopies and to help raise awareness about Colon Kancer. March is colon Kancer awareness month. This past week I was in DC advocating for programs that would help support research and screening. Colon Kancer is the number one Kancer killer for men ages 20-49 and number two for women. I feel strongly about it because I was diagnosed with stage 4 at 34 and it is my way of honoring those who are no longer with us by helping to educate those who are. I couldn’t save myself. I still do chemo every two weeks and there is no higher stage than 4 but my hope is that I can help save someone else from having to learn how to relive their own life. 

We’ve known each other for a while at this point, but I still find it inspirational to see you running for State Representative as a young person. Having both a ton of experience on the Middletown Board of Supervisors and a fresh generational outlook on the issues facing Pennsylvanians, what is your advice to other young people looking to take the leap into advocacy and organizing?

Life is so short so I encourage you to be the change you want to see. In order to make change, you have got to step outside of your comfort zone. The change will really happen when you step outside of your comfort zone and do something about the issues you are passionate about.

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I first got involved with Obama in 2012 – knocked doors, phone calls, volunteered my time because the ACA saved my life. While running for office and getting involved in politics can be scary. It is empowering to work on something that is bigger than yourself, we cannot control everything that happens, but I am empowered to make a difference because that too is bigger than myself or any one person. 

Speaking of your work in Middletown, can you tell readers more about some of your biggest achievements while serving on the Board of Supervisors? What are you excited about working on in the coming year?

Some of my accomplishments include the creation of the Human Relations Council, which serves as a safe space for anyone in the township to come and share concerns about discrimination of any sort. Currently, they do a lot of educational seminars and webinars to help educate the public on certain issues and topics. 

We were one of the first municipalities in SEPA to have a climate action plan. That we can use as a guide moving forward. The plan actually helped the township receive an award in 2022 from the Governor’s office. I had the honor to be chair in 2023 and we made investments in our fire services helping to keep the public safe. I have helped advocate for our parks to be more accessible so people with all abilities can enjoy them. We will be unveiling EV charging stations this month – the first municipality to do so. We have a great board and team of employees in Middletown. It is an honor to work with them. 

Who or what inspires you to keep fighting for change? 

Life is so very short and we only have a small window of time that we are here, and I want to make sure that my time is spent leaving something better than I found it. I also feel that because I’m lucky enough to still be alive that I will honor those who are no longer with us and the best way to do that is by educating those who are.   

Everyone who has met you knows that you love Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and I recently learned of your love for wrestling! What was it like receiving words of encouragement from The Rock during what must have been the hardest part of your life?  

I watched wrestling growing up as it was a family thing, and when I was hospitalized a lot as a kid, that was the one channel that the TV got. Once a week on UPN it was Thursday night Smackdown and the Rock would be on and he was like my hype man … I remember a nurse coming in one night and saying how much better I seemed. He has always energized me and still does.

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When I was first diagnosed with stage 4 colon kancer, I kept saying to everyone who would listen, friends, family, doctors, literally everyone that if The Rock told me I was going to be okay, I could beat this. Everyone told me this was impossible, and then … on August 29th while playing cards – the video came in and I’m pretty sure I was in shock for days, maybe even months. It was the coolest thing that ever happened to me. I would watch the video back, and it helped propel me forward, inspire me, and give me strength. I know that video is part of the reason I’m still here. I mean he says he loves me in the video! I still watch the video from time to time on bad days, it was a truly life changing moment, and I can’t wait to see The Rock beat Cody Rhodes when I go to Wrestlemania this year. 

What final thoughts would you like to leave our readers with?

My hope is that my campaign can give others hope, and inspire more people to fight for what they believe in; and to continue to pursue your passions even when it feels like you shouldn’t. 

I have learned that to take my power back from CF and Kancer isn’t by beating them, it is by living with them. I choose to live my life in spite because that is all I can control. 

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Connor OHanlon

Connor OHanlon, CPA, is host of the Greater Society Podcast, Chair of the Doylestown Democrats, Director of Candidate Development for the Bucks County Democratic Committee, and EMPA Program Representative for the LPS Government at UPenn.

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