Talk to Margaret Smith Reif for more than two seconds, and you’ll quickly figure out a few things about her.
She’s a quick study. She’s undaunted by the tasks before her. Most of all, she’s got energy a marathon runner would envy.
Outraged by the policies and actions of the Trump administration, the Upper Uwchlan Township resident pulled off what might have seemed impossible a few short months ago, creating a Trump resistance movement in Chester County that shows every sign of going the distance. While dedicated to her job as a controller for a local nonprofit, and her life at home with her two sons and husband, she travels to Philadelphia and Harrisburg (as well as Washington, D.C.) to make legislators more accountable to the people they serve.
Reif has also been active in the movement to toughen Pennsylvania laws so that children will be protected from sexual abuse.
Reif isn’t a professional politician. Instead, she’s a citizen who believes she can make a difference in her community. In addition to having been the Home School President at St. Joseph School in Downingtown (she and her family are members of the parish) she’s also served as a Cub Scout and assistant Cub Scout leader for her son’s troop, and working Friends of the Struble Trail, helped secure open space in Downingtown.
If you haven’t met her yet (and if you are a Chester County Democrat, there’s a good chance you have already) or even if you have, here’s a little more about Margaret:
Tell me about your early life and what brought you to this area.
I grew up in Hicksville, Long Island, but went to the University of Scranton and graduated with a degree in economics and finance. My first job was as a copy girl in a medical consultant group when I was 14. By the time I was 17, I oversaw the accounts receivable department for the group for 5 cardiologists.
My dream was to be CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I worked as a research associate on Wall Street, then moved on to Vanguard here in Malvern. My husband, grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs. We’ve lived in Upper Uwchlan since 1992. We run a small business.
How did you get involved in the movement to bring sex abusers to justice in Pennsylvania and gain more legal protections for children?
Monsignor William Lynn (who was tried for covering up sex abuse by another clergy in the Archdiocese of Pennsylvania) had served in our parish. When the information came out, I was the Home and School President, and I wanted to talk about the impact it was having on the parish and the school. I was outraged and I wanted to do something about it. That’s why I was a founding member of Justice 4 PA Kids.
Why are you running for the office of Controller here in Chester County? You’ve never held a political office.
Like a lot of people, I was upset after the election. I’m an action-oriented person. When I see something wrong, I step up, get involved and try to fix it. The election of Donald Trump threatened everything I value. I’m concerned about the local implications of budget decisions, like those about block grants, made at the national level, as well as the effect of environmental regulations on our beautiful fieIds and streams. It would be almost impossible for big cuts to the EPA to be made up by the State of Pennsylvania. I’m a big fan of Fair Districts PA, the organization that wants to change gerrymandering practices.
My opponent is a financial advisor who apparently sees this position as a part-time job. I’m excited about the possibility of being completely focused on our county. The fiscal health of Chester County will be my priority as a county resident – I’m concerned that we’re not ready to deal with potential changes to the tax code and their implications for Chester County.
I look forward to working for and with you.