Local Democrat Gets Personal For District 10 Senate Seat
By Matt Schickling
Wire Staff Writer
Newtown Democrat Steve Cickay takes political action seriously, and personally.
On Feb. 22, he announced his candidacy for the 10th Senatorial District seat at the Bucks County Democratic Committee meeting, hoping to draw attention to issues he believes to be too long ignored by state government.
“I’m hoping for one four-year term to do what I think is right for the people of Bucks County,” said Cickay.
The retired federal employee built a career in information technology, working with four federal agencies in the Departments of Army, Navy, Labor and Treasury. Most recently, he worked as a member of the Senior Executive Service, managing more than 600 people across 17 states.
“My whole life I’ve felt good about working for government — doing the people’s work,” said Cickay. “I was just trying to make government better.”
At 59, Cickay believes he can influence change through a personal approach to politics. He bases his candidacy in support of Medicaid expansion by way of the Affordable Care Act, increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, and marriage equality, issues he believes are essential to moral and economic growth in Pennsylvania.
Cickay also places heavy emphasis on education, which was central to his decision to move to Newtown in 1985 and send his children through the Council Rock School District. To Cickay, education is important from pre-school onward, but he worries that the climbing cost of higher education may prevent young adults from achieving their potential.
“Education really is our future,” said Cickay. “We need to find a way to reduce education costs and provide subsidies for students. Without that, fewer people will get the higher education needed to get better jobs.”
He cited the success of his son and daughter, Adam and Jessica, who both earned college degrees and entered into prosperous careers to support this belief. He also noted the value he placed in his own education; he studied philosophy at the University of Chicago.
“This is the American dream we want everyone to have,” said Cickay.
Cickay seems indifferent to the grandeur often associated with political power, and, instead, seeks a personal, community-based campaign.
“Part of me likes politics,” said Cickay. “When it’s done well, it’s good for the community, but it’s often focused on money or personal innuendo that is just not true.”
And it makes sense for Cickay to feel this way. He and his wife Susan, an animal-rights advocate, have been residents of Bucks County for almost three decades. In his free time, Cickay volunteers at Ewing Township Animal Shelter in New Jersey, where he adopted Kongo, his American bulldog. As a self-proclaimed fitness enthusiast, he also participates in various running events, and in the past has even done some marathons.
The 10th Senatorial District has been occupied by Republican Sen. Chuck McIlhinney Jr. since 2007. Before being elected to the Senate, McIlhinney served eight years in the House of Representatives, including time as chairman of the House Subcommittees on Information Technology and Land Use Management. He now serves as chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, which oversees legislation, regulation and policy for the Liquor Control Board and Pennsylvania State Police. McIlhinney, 46, has been a Bucks County resident his whole life, and currently lives in Doylestown with his wife Jennifer and their two children.
Though less experienced in formal politics, Cickay believes that his ideals can bring important changes to the district.
“Once you get into a position, you look at things with a new perspective, and I can focus on problems that are directly facing our district and state.”