One alumna is running for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 16th district with plans to end political gridlock.
Christina Hartman, who graduated in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs, said her experiences as a student pushed her to pursue a career in politics. Hartman is running against Republican candidate Lloyd Smucker and Libertarian candidate Shawn Patrick House.
The race has been predicted to likely go in Lloyd’s favor, according to Real Clear Politics.
Hartman, a Democrat, said she first began her political career at GW as a volunteer at the Democratic National Committee during her freshman year. She went on to intern in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which she said solidified her interest in public service.
Hartman said her proximity to the White House and the State Department were major factors in her decision to attend GW. A love of working with people, traveling and learning languages prompted her interest in international affairs and eventually politics, Hartman said.
“I wanted to see how I could put together a career that allowed me to travel, learn languages and meet all different kinds of people,” she said. “So it wasn’t necessarily politics that motivated me per say, but that obviously was an interest.”
After graduating from GW, Hartman went on to work for the Freedom House, an organization committed to the expansion of freedom and democracy throughout the world, before attending Fordham University to earn her master’s degree in international political economy and development in 2004.
She has also worked at the National Democratic Institute and most recently as an independent consultant in Lancaster, Pa.
As Election Day looms, Hartman said if she’s elected she hopes to be part of a solution to ending gridlock in Congress.
“I think one of the big things that everyone has an issue with is how people are divided on both sides of the aisle,” Hartman said. “They are sticking to their guns and not coming towards the middle and not being willing to negotiate and compromise towards solutions that benefit ordinary Americans.”
While the campaign trail has been long, Hartman said talking to people who live in her district has been rewarding.
“Apart from getting Washington working again, folks are focused on making sure their kids have a good education,” Hartman said. “They want to make sure that we have a thriving economy, where they can get a job that pays a living wage. And they want to make sure that social security is protected and preserved for when they retire.”
Just as she got involved at an early age, Hartman said it is important for young people to get involved in politics by voting, especially because this year’s election will shape the nation’s future.
“I have been in elections where I didn’t participate because I was apathetic and frustrated, like ‘why does my vote count?’” she said. “But the truth of the matter is that it does. I learned that by working in countries all over the world where people will stand in line for eight hours and walk miles to have the right to vote.”