It’s a sad time for Pennsylvanians with disabilities as one of our staunchest allies, seven-term state Sen. James Rhoades, a Republican from Pennsylvania’s coal country, died after a traffic accident over the weekend. Throughout our state Rhoades is best known for his work as chairman of the education committee, but in our community he’s known as the guy who’ll back us up for whatever we need. Especially, he is credited for making affordable, accessible transportation a reality.
“He could have blown us off,” says Ginny Rogers, who was coordinator of the Pa. Transportation Alliance when the rural transportation program became a reality. “He could have said, ‘oh yes, that sucks,’ and done nothing about the problem, the way so many others do. But he knew many of his constituents with disabilities personally, and so he had a deep understanding of the issues and was always willing to go to bat for our community.”
Not many people in power are willing to stick up for either people with disabilities or people who live in rural areas. Rhoades was a staunch advocate for both, especially when they were one in the same. He will be missed.