Blair Dem Blog

News, Announcements, and Opinions from the Blair County Democratic Committee

July 10, 2014
by gkratzer

Getting to Know You

In an effort to help our local Democrats get connected with the campaigns that they’re most interested in being involved with doing the things they’re interested in doing, we’ve created this short questionnaire.  You may have received it in your email.  If you did and filled it out, you’re good to go.  If you didn’t receive it, make sure to fill it out and add your email address so that we can make sure you’re on our list for future emails.

Thanks so much for your help!


July 8, 2014
by gkratzer

July Meeting Recap

In case you missed our July meeting, here’s a quick recap of what you need to know:

        • Our new Executive Committee was introduced, including the following people
          • Ned Kratzer – Vice Chair, 79th District
          • Marsha Hunter – Vice Chair, 80th District
          • Tom Patterson – Treasurer
          • Secretary – Ashton Romano
          • Parliamentarian – Jason Imler
          • Sgt-at-Arms – Patrick Brett
          • Labor Rep. – Tim Miller
          • BCFDW* Rep – Donna Cohen
        • Tom presented our treasurer’s report.
          • Although we are no longer maintaining a physical office, the Blair Democrats still need funds to support our ability to work effectively.  If you’re interested in investing in the party, you can contact Tom Patterson ( or Gillian Kratzer (
          • Moving forward, here are a few things that we hope to be able to accomplish with the investments of local Democrats.
            • A new and improved web presence.
            • Taking two students to the September State Committee meeting.
            • Helping Democratic candidates by providing them the resources they need to reach voters in Blair County
            • Reaching out to new voters.
            • Maintaining administrative costs like the phone bill, stamps, toner, and other office supplies.
        • The Report from State Committee
          • State Committee was an inspiring and educational experience, from which we’ve brought back some great new ideas.
          • Frank Rosenhoover was reelected as the Chair of the North Central Caucus.
          • Our new Chair, Gillian Kratzer, joined the LGBT Caucus.
          • Jim Burn was reelected as State Party Chair; Penny Gerber was reelected as Vice Chair; Jack Hanna was reelected as Treasurer.
        • New Business
          • Volunteer form – Be on the lookout in your email for our new “Getting to Know Your” questionnaire.  It’s a short form designed to help us reach out to the people most interested in a specific issue or task.
          • Childcare Committee – starting next month we’ll be meeting at the AFSCME building, where we’ll have plenty of space for those of us who need to bring our kids along to meetings.  To that end, we’re working on forming a childcare committe, a group of people who would take turns watching children at our meetings.  Angelique Thayer has kindly volunteered to head up that committee, so please contact us if you’re interested.
          • VoteBuilder Training – VoteBuilder is a program that we are provided the use of by the Democratic Party.  If you are a committee member and are interested in training on VoteBuilder, email Gillian at
          • ActBlue – ActBlue is a site dedicated to fundraising for causes, campaigns, and party committees.  With ActBlue, we’ll be able to begin to raise funds online.
          • August Meeting – Monday, Aug 4 at the AFSCME Building, 7pm (preceded by a self-pay dinner at Hoss’s at 5:30pm)
        • Upcoming Events
          • Blair County Federation of Democratic Women Meeting
            • Wednesday, July 16, 6pm, Hoss’s in Duncansville
          • Blair Democrats Annual Summer Picnic
            • Sunday, July 20 from 2pm to 5pm.
            • Highland Park, pavilion 1.
            • Adult tickets $3, children free.  You can pay when you get to the picnic, but in order to know how many people will be attending, we’d appreciate it if you could call (814-944-9924) or email ( so we can have a rough count.
            • Alanna Hartzok, Democratic candidate for the 9th District will be attending.
            • Several representatives of the Wolf campaign will be attending and they’ll have yard signs, pins, and bumper stickers with them.
          • African-American Heritage Festival
            • Saturday, July 26, 12pm – 6pm at PSU Altoona
            • We’ll be working on registering people to vote.  If you’re available to work our table from 11-2, 2-4, or 4-6:30 please email
          • Fall Banquet
            • Liz Barr has graciously volunteered to lead the Fall Banquet committee. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Liz at
            • The Banquet has been scheduled for Oct 19 – Save The Date!
        • Campaigns
          • If you are interested in getting involved in the Hartzok campaign, email Gillian (see email above

Our final business of the evening was to discuss student voting.  In Blair County, our solicitor is of the opinion that students have to go home to vote.  This is is clearly stated by Pennsylvania’s voter website.

If you’re a student in Pennsylvania who has moved to a new county or a new state to attend college, you can still vote. As a college student, you have two choices on where you register to vote. You have the right to register and vote where you live now, whether that is an on-campus or off-campus address. Or, you may choose to register or remain registered and vote at your prior home address.

We are working on forming a team to address the issue of maintaining students’ full voting rights.   Students are a group that are often discriminated against when it comes to voting.  If you are interested in working with us to protect student voting rights, please contact Gillian (



June 18, 2014
by gkratzer
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Your 2014 #GOTV (Get Out The Vote) Toolkit


What can you do to make a difference in the 2014 Election?  Or any election for that matter?  We’re here to tell you how.


What have you done today to help win in November?
What will you do tomorrow? Check all that apply:
___ Donated to a Democratic candidate
___ Knocked on doors/canvassed
___ Phone banked
___ Talked to a voter 
___ Registered a new voter
___ Shared a political post
___ Attended a meeting/rally/event
___ Wrote a letter-to-the-editor
___ Wore Democratic/progressive gear
___ Commented on a post or newspaper article

One a day is good.
Two a day earns you a berth on our All-Star Team.
Doing all 10 in a month gets you into progressive heaven! 

Who are our candidates?

Governor: Tom Wolf

Representative, 9th Congressional District: Alanna Hartzok








Memes and Posters

Favorite memes




Submit a Letter to the Editor

If you’d like to submit a letter to the editor, but feel that you’d like help writing it, or want someone to look it over to send it in, I am always (and I do mean always) happy to help.  All you have to do to get a helping hand with a Letter to the Editor is email it to me at and I’ll look it over for you.

    Mail: Altoona Mirror Letters
    P.O. Box 2008
    Altoona, PA 16603
    Fax: (814) 946-7540
    In person: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday

Indiana Gazette

Bedford Gazette 

Centre Daily Times


The Daily News




County, State, and National Party

Voter Registration

Find Your Polling Place



Collected by: Gillian Kratzer

Many thanks to the Kennett Area Dems!

June 13, 2014
by gkratzer
1 Comment

UPMC Is Still At It…

Within the last year, the Blair County area – especially close to Altoona – has experience the huge shake up of having our local hospital taken over by UPMC.  As community members, some of us fought to slow down the process and encouraged hospital executives to really think about the deal they were making.  Altoona Regional Hospital executives plowed ahead and now our local hospital is UPMC Altoona.  UPMC tried to play hardball with our local nurses, but the nurses, supported by local union members and members of the community at large fought back for a fair deal.

All along, our biggest fear has been UPMC’s seemingly endless battle for supremacy with Highmark and if UPMC gets its way in Pittsburgh, the consequences will be felt here in Blair County.

As you may have heard, UPMC—our region’s largest healthcare provider and “charity”– is refusing to renew its longterm contract with Highmark. That means more than three million patients could lose affordable in network access to UPMC at the end of this year.

It is unconscionable that UPMC executives are using patients as pawns in their business plan to build a monopoly on care in our region.  Patients with the “wrong” insurance card are being turned away from hospitals, cut off from care mid-treatment, and forced to leave long-term family doctors.   And Highmark subscribers with serious illnesses or chronic conditions are scared they won’t be able to see their UPMC caregivers in 2015.

We can’t let UPMC get away with these scare tactics.   

Our partners from Make It Our UPMC are looking for patients who have been, or will be, impacted by UPMC’s refusal to negotiate a new contract with Highmark.  If you have been impacted, or know of someone that has – share your story here to add your voice to the growing number ofpatients who are refusing to be bullied by UPMC.

Please share this with as many people as you can.  Individually UPMC will not listen, but together we can make a noise that cannot be ignored.

June 10, 2014
by gkratzer
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A Brief Word From Your New Chair

Hello!  For those of you know don’t know me, I’d like to introduce myself.  My name is Gillian Kratzer and for the past two years if you’ve seen our Facebook page or our website you’ve probably seen my work for the Blair Democrats.  I’ve also been a regular fixture on the Blair Democrats’ Public Access show, Plain Speaking.  plainspeakingheadshot2

I am an adult full-time student at Penn State Altoona, majoring in Political Science. My husband, Ned Kratzer, is our new Vice Chair from the 79th District and we have a six year-old son.  We have lived in Altoona for the last five years.

During my time with the Blair Democrats I have re-designed our website and Facebook page as well as recently giving us a Twitter presence.

I am a loud and proud Democrat and I know that in me you will find an ardent defender of the Democratic Party and its principles.

If you’re interested in hearing me speak about the issues you can check out the Blair Dems YouTube channel and watch past episode of Plain Speaking.  I’ll also be on Plain Speaking this coming Thursday and that will be on Atlantic Broadband Channel 14 at 9am and 6pm.  We’ll have it up on our Youtube channel next week.

If you want to get involved consider coming to a meeting.  Our next business meeting is July 7 at 7pm at the United Way of Blair County office, 5415 6th Ave, Altoona.  If you’d like to start with something more casual where you’ll have a better opportunity to get to know your fellow Democrats, think about coming to our monthly breakfast:

Altoona Dems Breakfast – June 28, 8:30am; 6th Ave Kings, Altoona. (This breakfast occurs the 4th Saturday of every month)

Are you somewhere else in Blair County and wish there were a monthly breakfast closer to you?  Let’s talk about starting one!  There are at least 3 more Saturdays every month so let’s see what we can work out.

Also let me take this opportunity to invite you to our annual summer picnic, which will be held this year at Highland Park in Altoona on July 20 from 2-5pm.  Bring a side dish or dessert to share and the Blair Dems will provide meat and beverages.  We ask that each adult contributes $3 to help us cover cost and to provide funds for us to host future events and do the work of the Democratic Party.

For a start though, you can get to know us online.  Like us on Facebook.  Follow us on Twitter.  Get involved.  It’s absolutely easy to do and every small thing you can do adds to the larger effort of the County Party.  We depend on the involvement of concerned Democrats in our county.

Last night I was thrilled to see such a great turnout at our reorganization meeting and to meet so many people who were so excited to get busy and do something.  To start, therefore, here are three things we could use some help with and if you’d like to volunteer, please email me at

Current Volunteer Opportunities

  • Summer Picnic Committee – we need a few people to help with the picnic: setting up, cooking the meat, collecting ticket money, breaking down and cleaning up at the end of the picnic
  • Child care committee – In the interest of making our meetings more accessible to parents with children who aren’t yet old enough to stay home alone, I believe we need to make an effort to be of service to parents who want to be involved but feel that they can’t.
  • Webmasters/Social Media volunteers – As I have been running our online presence entirely on my own, I’ll need volunteers to help maintain our presence.  If you have website design experience or are particularly active/proficient with either Facebook or Twitter please contact me.
  • Photographer – In addition to keeping us up-to-date online, I’m often running around taking pictures.  If you’re interested in taking pictures to chronicle our events, get in touch.
  • Fall Banquet Committee – I know it seems early because it’s not even actually summer yet, but the Fall Banquet takes a lot of planning and coordination.  It’s our biggest event of the year and I speak from experience when I say that putting it together is easier with lots of help.

Look forward to my keeping you up-to-date whenever we find out about volunteer opportunities either to help the Blair Dems or to help specific campaigns working within our county.  With your help we’re going to have a great four years ahead of us.

Finally, I would like to thank all of our outgoing officers: Frank Rosenhoover, Ann Rosenhoover, Robin Aurandt, George Thompson, LA Wilson, Georgia Chilcoat, Ann Harvey-Myers, and Marty Baronner.  We wouldn’t be where we are today without you all.

May 12, 2014
by gkratzer
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May Meeting Recap

If you missed our May monthly meeting you certainly missed an action packed meeting, chock full of votes.

This month we made several changes to our bylaws, including making the language gender neutral and adding sexual orientation and gender identity to our nondiscrimination clause.  In addition, we removed language about the 81st State Assembly District since the 81st Assembly District is no longer within Blair County.

There were several other notable points of business which are as follows:

  • The June meeting will be held at the United Way of Blair County office on 5415 6th Ave, Altoona on June 9 at 7pm.  We will have the usual self-pay dinner preceding the meeting, and when we decide where that will be, we will notify you.  This will be our reorganization meeting where the new Chair will be elected.  Currently, the only person running is Gillian Kratzer and she will be available at the dinner to meet and greet.
  • Reassessment: Ted Beam was with us for our meeting.  He said that there will likely be a meeting at the Convention Center on May 29 where the Commissioners will discuss the planned property reassessment.  We’ll keep you updated on the specifics of that meeting.
  • Summer Picnic: Our Summer Picnic has been scheduled for July 20th, 2pm to 5pm and will be held at Highland Park.  More specifics on the picnic will be available at our June meeting.

Finally, one more reminder that the Ted Kennedy Memorial Scholarship is available for a student who is a registered Democrat in Blair County.   Click here for more info on that.

One final final thing, don’t forget that the primary is next Tuesday, May 20.  The Blair Dems office will be open all day from 9 to 5.  Rides will be available.  Additionally, if you or someone you know would like to learn how to use electronic voting machines we have a machine to practice on and people available to help explain how to use it.  If you need a ride on Primary Day or would like to schedule a time during the next week to practice using the electronic voting machine you can call us at 814-944-9924 or email

May 10, 2014
by gkratzer
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Meet Alanna Hartzok

Have you met Alanna Hartzok?  She’s running in the Democratic Primary for Pennsylvania’s US9th District Congressional seat.  She’s an amazing candidate with a strong record of both environmental and progressive economic activism.

You can learn more about her here.  Also, please check out our most recent episode of Plain Speaking during which we were lucky enough to have Alanna on as a guest for the first half of the show.


May 8, 2014
by gkratzer
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It’s Scholarship Time!

It’s Ted Kennedy Memorial Scholarship time and thanks to some very generous donations we are able to once again offer our annual $1,000 scholarship to one Democratic Blair County student.  You do not have to be first entering school, or be a traditional student to receive the scholarship.  You can be going to any college or university.  The requirements are as follows:

  • Must be 18 or older
  • Must be a registered Democrat
  • Must be a resident of Blair County
  • Current GPA
  • Recommendation from a professor or teacher
  • Must be sponsored by a Blair County Democratic Party Committee Member (the best way to find a sponsor is to attend one of our monthly meetings.  The next one is Monday, May 12.
  • Documentation of extracurricular school activities and service to the community
  • One page typed essay describing why he/she believes in Democratic principles, what he/she hopes to  accomplish with a completed degree and a description of why this scholarship money is needed.


The scholarship application can be downloaded here -> The-Senator-Ted-Kennedy-Memorial-Scholarship.