My name is Joe Sterns, and I’m fighting to save our country from the destruction of career politicians. A dozen of my ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War, one of whom signed the Declaration of Independence; I owe it to them to preserve what they gave us.
I was born of humble means in upstate New York in 1975. My mother was 19 when she married my father, who had dropped out of the State University of New York at Oswego. In 1980, my parents’ combined gross income was less than $10,000. But up by their bootstraps they came, working long hours and thankless jobs to save for a home and have the lifestyle they wanted for their two children. Today, my parents are successful and earn well above the average household income. It’s because of them my sister and I work hard, worship God, love America, and have wholesome families of our own.
Being fascinated with the art of language, I majored in communications at California University of Pennsylvania, whence I graduated magna cum laude
and was named the Communications Scholar of my class. The ideology imbued by my parents manifested itself often in classroom discussions and term papers, such that a semiotics professor persuaded me to fulfill my passion by interning at the state capitol.
After my internship, I accepted an offer to stay in Harrisburg and work for the House Republican caucus as a public relations specialist. I observed in state government the repeated triumph of ambition over virtue, which triggered my evolution from a naïve partisan to an independent-minded, clear-eyed crusader for American values. Being powerless to promote those values while working for self-interested politicians who didn’t share them, I sought avenues to advance “the cause” to which I had become committed.
In 2002, I was elected chairman of the Pennsylvania Young Republicans. Soon after, I wrote a letter to Congressman Patrick Toomey, an extraordinarily articulate and – at that time – principled and forward-looking politician, encouraging him to run for the U.S. Senate and offering to work for him in any capacity if he did. He decided to wage a republican primary campaign against the redoubtable Arlen Specter in 2004, and he hired me to be his press secretary. Specter prevailed by an excruciatingly close margin, at which point I became a private-sector political consultant. Harrisburg’s infamous Pay Raise scandal produced a plethora of candidates seeking to oust corrupt state legislators in 2006. I drafted the “The Promise to Pennsylvania,” a conservative-reform manifesto that served as the campaign centerpiece for my clients, who included tire salesman Mike Folmer, who I and a colleague persuaded to challenge the powerful senate majority leader. Dozens of altruistic aspirants to the General Assembly would eventually sign the Promise
. In one of the most historic statehouse election cycles in Pennsylvania – if not the country – numerous incumbents were defeated, including the two highest-ranking members of the senate and several house committee chairmen.
Certain that Harrisburg was now an environment for monumental change, I strode triumphantly back into the state capitol to work as director of policy and communications for “Citizen Mike” Folmer. In the ensuing two years, I feverishly composed a cornucopia of government reform and free-market bills, only to watch them languish under the inertia of the status quo.
Down but never out, I accepted an offer to serve as the director of communications for the Commonwealth Foundation, Pennsylvania’s free-market think tank. In 2009, the organization’s president and I came to believe that for the cause to prevail, there needed to be an entity devoted solely to electing conservatives to the General Assembly. We established Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania, with yours truly as its inaugural executive director.
In 2010, I waged an insurgent campaign for chairman of the Schuylkill County Republican Committee – and won. Meanwhile my old boss and friend, Pat Toomey, prevailed in his second run for the U.S. Senate. I accepted an offer to manage his Harrisburg office. But Toomey unfortunately devolved to a state of pragmatism irreconcilable with the idealism that I now – and he once – possessed. We parted ways amicably, and I returned to private consulting fully evolved.
My career has been a enlightening path to this truth: our country as we know it will surely die unless we restore her three pillars: natural law, patriotism & civic virtue.
Along my journey, God has blessed my wife and I with two wonderful boys. We are all active in our Church and in our community through various organizations, including: Lions, Knights of Columbus, Boy Scouts and Little League.
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