Republican Candidate for Lancaster County’s District Attorney
A few months ago, the FLL team received an email inquiry suggesting a topic for a story. Our editor fields a number of these sorts of emails during the production of each issue; so many of our readers have interesting life stories, unique products to pitch, and adventures they want to share. Every now and then, when it is truly remarkable, one of these pitches will catch our editor’s eye. The idea for this particular story came from a friend, Attorney Joe McMahon. In his email, Joe discussed the Republican nominee for Lancaster’s District Attorney, Heather Adams. He laid out her qualifications, experience, and education; but, it was a single line in the last paragraph of his note that caught our attention: Adams receives “…support from highly respected colleagues from both sides of the political aisle (which as you know, is very rare).” I was lucky enough to receive the assignment to interview Ms. Adams—continuing my ongoing pursuit of interviews with talented and respected folks who are bridging divides in our community and trying to put an end to the divisions that will always deny us the best solutions to our problems.
Like so many women who have stepped up in the past few years, Adams never imagined running for office. In fact, while studying political science as an undergraduate at Millersville University in the 1990s, she realized that perhaps law school was her next step after graduation, as politics was not the field she wished to enter. But now, in 2019, after 15 years as a prosecutor and five years as a criminal defense attorney, she has realized that she has the experience and skill necessary for the job. “I have something to offer,” Adams says.
A record number of women have recently entered politics. Some discuss a call to action they have heard over the past few years; some see it as an awakening to the true gifts they can share with the world. Instead of underestimating their talents and experiences, women are boldly stepping into roles they previously never thought of pursuing. Win or lose, they have decided they are going to offer the voters their experience, talents, and fresh perspective. Heather Adams is one of these bold entrants.
She credits her mentor and former boss at the York District Attorney’s office, Bill Graff, with instilling in her a core belief that prosecutors and defenders alike must always protect the rights of those accused. Seek justice without ever violating or blurring Constitutional rights. When asked to detail a few of the improvements she would make to the office of District Attorney, she tell us that she would like to make sure there is six-month formal training period for all new hires. During those six months, new hires would be asked to perform all tasks with guidance, of course. “The goal is to retain good people and secure a solid base,” she says. She also wants to create and lead a school safety initiative called “Your Kid Matters,” which will bring together law enforcement, school district officials, mental health experts, and others across Lancaster County, with a renewed commitment to keeping our kids safe in schools.
According to Adams, she did not anticipate being the Republican candidate for Lancaster County District Attorney, but after conferring with her husband (who is a former Pennsylvania State Trooper), and fully recognizing that when running for office, you will expose yourself to a wider community and plenty of fundraising dinners and hand-shaking events, they agreed that her many years of hard work and training, her education, her desire to seek justice and, at all times, present herself with a sense of professionalism and integrity, meant that she is more than capable of throwing her proverbial hat in the ring.
And then there is that line from the initial email FLL received about Adams: “support from highly respected colleagues from both sides of the political aisle.” Wouldn’t we all love to see candidates that are so knowledgeable, so approachable, and so fair that—despite political party—people are excited to see them working for all of us, not just some of us? Like so many women around the country and the world, Heather Adams has taken a major leap of faith. She believes that she can innovate and improve the office of District Attorney, and even if it takes eating some (rubber) chicken fundraising dinners, shaking many hands, and perhaps even having to sit for interviews like this one—she is ready. All of her hard work and preparation has led to this: “moving forward with a fresh perspective.”
By Marian Pontz