Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Race of My Life

Announcement of Candidacy

I find myself saying I've been making myself ready for this moment all my life. I have run many races in my life, literally and metaphorically. This one may be the biggest one of all.

I just got off the phone with my brother in North Carolina, a former Secret Service agent and current owner and director of global investigations for Vaudra Inc, an intelligence protection company. He said how he's always admired people who are willing and able to take a chance in life. My big brother then told me how proud he was of me.

It is to the people of Carbon County that I aspire to represent. My roots are deep here. But more importantly, I have spent my 44 years deeply involved in what matters here: the people.

You can read through my history of serving people and see the variety and scope to which I have pitched in here. You can talk to people who know me and you will hear through examples of what exists in my heart. For in the end, no matter what else we ever hope to accomplish in our lifetime, it is our relationship with people that matters most.

Some of you who have been reading my blog from the beginning may be surprised by this announcement. Looking back on my poem, “My Carbon County,” about all the great leaders and all those who toiled so hard on this dirt, I am struck by my last lines: “Now is my time and you are my place. Give me the vision you dreamed for me. Let me stand on its pillar so that I can see: my Carbon County, may I awaken your dream for thee." I wrote that two years ago.  (Read the entire poem here - February 23, 2010.)

It is time to take my commitment to a new level, as I am announcing my candidacy for representative in the general assembly for the people of the 122nd legislative district. Entering this will take a tremendous commitment. I am now at a time in my life, and in my heart, to take on this role.

My Background:

I have been married to Kimberly (Schleicher) Rabenold for 25 years this past December. We have two sons of whom we are most proud. Nathaniel is a 2009 Kutztown University graduate and is currently making plans toward an advanced degree. Nathaniel was a member of the Golden Bears Football team and majored in History.

Jonathan is a 2011 Lehighton Area High School graduate attending Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne Florida majoring in their Ocean Engineering program. He was recruited into the inaugural class of players of the F.I.T. football program. They look to compete in the fall of 2013. Jonathan will be taking two courses this summer at Oxford University, England.
My brother Rick, an accounting executive at Redner's
Coporate Headquarters sits with Randy, "Double R"
Rabenold.  My nephew and adopted brother Zach
and oldest brother Randy.  (Missing from the
photo are my sisters Rebecca Finsel and Rhonda.)

My dad is the most dedicated man I know. He served in Korea in the First Provisional Marine Brigade, came home, met my mother, and worked his way through college on the G.I. Bill. He taught art in Jim Thorpe for 37 years, coaching basketball most of that time. He ran the Jim Thorpe Summer League Basketball program for 50 years. I have never heard an unkind word said about him.

My mom, the former Ruthie Haas shaped my disposition in such loving and implicit ways, ways that even now, 3 years since her death, strike me in unguarded moments. She worked hard, I’d see her toil in the bead of sweat on the tip of her nose. She was always working. Many remember my mom and her wry humor from her years of waitressing at Trainer’s Inn. She raised us 5 kids, plus my nephew Zach, if with nothing else, a proper set of manners on how to treat people. I never heard her say an unkind word about anyone.

And I am delighted to see these same attributes carried on in our own two sons. For that, without question, comes largely from Kim. She has been the steadying ballast of our family, a millstone that has shaped some rough edges, but with a heart that could warm the deepest chills in my bones. I am lucky for many things in my life, but it is Kim to whom I’m most grateful.

My father has always said it was his father who saved his life in Korea. Zach Rabenold died just before the Chinese invaded and tore open the conflict at the Chosin Reservoir. Dad was shipped home to attend to his mother in her time of need. My granddad Zach was a welder at the Packerton Yards during the time of labor strife there. His wife, my grandma Mary “Mamie” (Strauch) Rabenold, delighted me with these stories through the years. Mamie’s father, Heinrich Strauch, was a first generation German-American who escaped the Prussian Wars in the early 1870s. He was a “butcher to the miners” during the Molly Maguire days. They lived in Hacklebernie.

My dad’s family had hard patches to overcome. My grandfather and many of his brothers and sisters were “farmed out.” Zach was sent to Jonathan Gombert of the Mahoning Valley as a farm hand and saddler. Gombert lost his arm at the battle of Antietam and later became sheriff of Carbon County. My grandfather Zach lived at the Carbon County Jail with the Gomberts for 2 years as an orderly.

My mom’s family also came from the farms of Mahoning and Lizard Creek Valleys and struck out through hard work to build their own corner grocery store. Calvin and Rebecca (Nothstein) Haas ran “Haas’ Grocery” store from 1930 until the 1960s. From that point, my uncle, Bobby Haas, with the help of his brothers and sisters, my aunts and uncles, ran the store until 1998. That store was an important part of my life, I spent almost all of my free time there from as little as 3rd grade until college. I started by bagging potatoes, restocking the candy, tapping molasses, and the best part, burning the trash.

I learned many things there: respecting the customer and hard-work. But besides all those lessons, I learned of the social nature of running a community business. I learned how people need and rely on people. Applying that to my life through 44 years, I realize to greater levels how God has placed us here to look after each other.

I mortgaged my home through Jim Thorpe National Bank. I bought one of the last new cars sold by K-Chevrolet on First Street in Lehighton before they lost their dealership to downsizing. I shop at Marzen’s Feed and Grain, Palmerton Lumber, and Lehighton Hardware long before even considering walking into Lowe’s.  We have purchased every kitchen and laundry appliance in our home from Ed's TV of Lehighton.  I love Mallard Markets, for they have local breads and products you can’t find anywhere else. I drive to Palmerton for my milk at Hahn’s Dairy.

We are all in this life together. We live here in this great county together. My pledge to this county is I will serve her as I have lived here all of my life, with loyalty and commitment.

My Record of Service:

Leadership Experience:

• 21 years of classroom experience – Last 17 at Lehighton Area Middle School teaching Social Studies, 3 years teaching Emotional Support at Lehighton Area High School, 1 year at Wiley House School (Kids Peace) in Bethlehem.
• Nominee for Pennsylvania’s Professional Standards and Practices Commission - (2010) (I turned down the appointment before Senate confirmation)
• Honored to have served in various leadership roles among the great teachers at the Lehighton Area School

With friend and great
American hero, Ira Smith, Battle of the
Bulge and POW.  He was originally from
New Tripoli.  It was my privilege to know him
and tell his story. 
He is missed by all. 
(Click here to read Ira's farm and war story.).
(Click here to read of the day Ira went home to his farm for the first time in 72 years.)
Community Service:

• Lehighton Area Community Book Swap Founder and Coordinator (2005-Present)
• Local and district winner of the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars “Voice of Democracy” Contest (1985)
• Franklin Township Little League Baseball Coach/Assistant Coach
• Cub Scout and Boy Scout Assistant Leader –Pack/Troop 187 (1993-2005)
• Sunday School Teacher - (1990-2000)
• Board of Directors Carbon County Classic Car Show - (1997-2002)
• Jacob’s United Church of Christ, Weissport – Church Elder, Lay Supply Minister & Vice-President - (1997-2005)
• Board of Directors Mauch Chunk Museum and Cultural Center - (2008-Present)
• Board of Directors Mauch Chunk Historical Society - (2010-Present)
• Author of (2010-Present)
• Head Varsity Boys and Girls Cross Country Coach (2008-Present)
• Assistant Varisty Coach -Boys Basketball, and both Boys and Girls Soccer
• American Legion Post #314 District and Inter-District Oratory Contest Judge
• Life Member Lehigh Fire Company #1
• Member Lehighton Legion Post #314
• Sons of the American Legion
• Member Beaver Run Rod and Gun Club
• Memorial Day Speaker for the United Veteran’s Organization

Hunting with my family is one of our deepest and most important traditions
we have.  It is our heritage here.  And it is up to us to preserve
and protect it, including being good stewards of the land.  Nate and I helped to bring in nephew Ryan's 6-pointer this year.  It was an adventure
and a late night but we got him home.  A night we won't soon forget.
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At the CD release party for Free Range Folk, local bluegrass band.
Here with artist Brad Kunkle.  Brad was an athlete of mine.

Jackson Square, New Orleans

On the Oregon coast with nephew and niece Josh and Amber Finsel.

Jim Thorpe St. Patrick's Day Parade with my sons and their
friend Rory, 2011.