LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — In the last election cycle, Lancaster elected its first Black and first LGBTQ representative. Ismail Smith-Wade-El has broken many barriers, becoming a ground-breaking candidate.
“Folks have said, essentially honestly, I did not imagine that this was going to happen for you, but I’m super glad that it did.”
Prior to his election to the Pennsylvania Legislature, Ismail Smith-Wade-El served on the Lancaster City Council.
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Smith-Wade-El then decided that he wanted to run to represent Pennsylvania’s 49th District, however the thought of being a ground-breaking candidate and representative never crossed his mind.
“I think the win is nice, but what I see in front of me really is a duty to make sure that we keep elevating that thing. You can get into one of these seats and just feel very comfortable. ‘I’m here, I’m great.’ or you can recognize that you have an obligation to show up for your hometown,” said Smith-Wade-El.
Born and raised in Lancaster, Smith-Wade-El is reminded by his mother, Rita Smith-Wade-El, that his accomplishments are due in part to those who came before him.
“She said to me, ‘Your father and I knowing what it means to be black in America, decided to come together and have a child.’ For all of us that are here there are generations of people who worked to make sure that we could survive, have certain rights, have certain opportunities,” said Smith-Wade-El.
Smith-Wade-El said that defining the Commonwealth as a safe space is his next step.
“The next barrier I want to break is I want to redefine this Commonweath as a place where queer kids are safe all the time, everywhere. Where kids are getting a good education all the time, everywhere. Where folks can work a good job and afford a home for their family, all the time, everywhere. I want Pennsylvania to be the vanguard of what the United States of America can be for all of its residents and that’s the next barrier I’m focused on breaking.”