Blazing the Trail, Part 3

July 15, 2016

State Representative Patty Kim, 103rd District

by Jill Gleeson, Photography by Paul Vasiliades and Michelle Yinger

State Representative Patty Kim, 103rd District

For State Representative Patty Kim, the spotlight that comes with serving the 103rd Legislative District, which covers a swath of Dauphin County, including Harrisburg, is nothing new. Before entering politics, Kim was the face of WHP-TV CBS 21 News, where she reported and anchored mornings until 2004. But as glamorous as the job might seem, Kim found it unfulfilling. Since childhood, her overarching goal had been simply to help people. In 2005, when a friend suggested she run for Harrisburg City Council, Kim discovered her path to do just that.

Kim, a Democrat, served on the council in capacities such as Chair of Public Safety and Chair of Public Works until her historic 2012 election to the 103rd District. Not only is she the first Korean-American woman to ever serve in the Pennsylvania Legislature, she is also the first woman to win the district. Sometimes, however, being a pioneer can be anything but comfortable.

“I remember bringing my 8-month-old to an event,” Kim recalls. “And I got a lot of looks. I remember it very clearly – it did not feel positive. If a male elected official does that, it’s like, ‘Oh, it’s great he’s so involved, he’s helping his wife out!’ But for me, it was as if I had baggage with me, and it wasn’t very professional.”

Kim, who believes Hillary Clinton’s election to the White House would be “very empowering for women,” is running unopposed this November. She’s anxious to carry on her efforts to, as she describes, “lighten the load for regular folks.” To that end, she worked on the new law allowing for the expungement of old, non-violent misdemeanors and will continue to push for a minimum-wage hike.

“I don’t want to be running around cutting ribbons,” Kim stresses. “I want to actually change peoples’ lives. That’s a very ambitious goal, but I feel like I’ve made progress. I want my constituents to know that I’m working on issues that run deep.”

This article appears in the July 2016 issue of Harrisburg Magazine