This post originally appeared at LancasterOnline on January 7, 2018.
By Sam Janesch, Staff Writer
An Elizabethtown Democrat announced Saturday she will challenge eight-term Republican state Rep. David Hickernell in this year’s election for the northwestern Lancaster County legislative district.
Mary Auker-Endres, 32, is a former childbirth educator who said she wants to run on a platform that focuses on “expanded support for public education, fair wages for hard work and reforming Harrisburg.”
“Harrisburg isn’t listening, but I am. And I’m ready to act,” she said in a statement.
The 98th district, which Hickernell has represented since 2003, covers the boroughs of Columbia, Elizabethtown and Marietta, and the townships of Conoy, East Donegal, Mount Joy, West Donegal and West Hempfield. It also includes Londonderry Township in Dauphin County.
Auker-Endres grew up in Manheim and graduated from Lebanon Valley College with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Religion. She and her husband John, who was in the Navy, spent time living in Washington state and Maine before returning to the county.
From 2015-17, she worked as a doula, helping to “educate and smooth the transition for families as they grow through birth and adoption.”
Her first campaign for public office was an unsuccessful attempt to unseat an incumbent Elizabethtown Borough Council member this past fall.
In going up against Hickernell, Auker-Endres would face a Republican who has rarely been challenged in his multiple campaigns.
After working for 17 years as a legislative staffer, Hickernell served as Lancaster County’s clerk of courts for nearly three years before he was first elected to the state House, with 72 percent of the vote, in 2002.
He didn’t face any challengers in five of his seven subsequent re-election campaigns, including in 2016. He won his last contested election, in 2014 against Tony Crocamo and Ryan Hazel, with 69 percent of the vote.
Hickernell, of West Donegal, has chaired the House Education Committee since the beginning of 2017 and previously led the Tourism and Recreational Development Committee.
All state House candidates, including 11 who represent parts of Lancaster County, will be up for election for two-year terms in 2018.
Candidates will seek party endorsements in February and begin gathering signatures to get on their party’s primary ballot this spring.