ABINGTON, PA — Josh Shapiro is a busy guy.
Between his job as Pennsylvania Attorney General, and the only declared Democrat running to become the state’s next governor, he certainly has a full schedule.
But that doesn’t stop him from making time for his wife, their four children, and the family’s 1-year-old dog, Bo, along with maintaining his Abington Township home.
And it also doesn’t prevent him from speaking to local media, as was evident by the time he gave to Patch the day before Christmas, where he agreed to meet up with a reporter on the campus of Penn State Abington to discuss his time as attorney general, his gubernatorial run, his family, his strong ties to the local community, and even the importance of local journalism.
“I applaud Patch and all the other local news outlets for continuing to be committed to delivering really good, quality local news,” Shapiro said during last week’s exclusive interview.
Find out what’s happening in Abington with free, real-time updates from Patch.
While the delivery mechanism for local news has changed in recent time, “what has not changed is people’s desire to know what’s happening in their local community,” he said. “That’s why outlets like Patch are so important.”
Shapiro, 48, grew up in neighboring Upper Dublin Township, where his parents still reside.
His dad is a well-known local pediatrician so when Shapiro canvassed homes back in 2004 while running for state representative in the 153rd Legislative District, many of the neighbors recognized the name of this then-budding politician.
Shapiro ended up winning election to the state House, a seat he held for seven years before becoming a Montgomery County commissioner. When Shapiro was selected as that body’s chairman it marked the first time a Democrat chaired the county commissioners in 150 years.
Shapiro later was elected, and then reelected, as Pennsylvania’s attorney general, a post he currently holds.
Still, despite rising in the state political ranks, Shapiro still maintains residence in his native Montgomery County and has nothing but good things to say about his home township of Abington and other neighboring Montco communities.
“I still drive around these neighborhoods and I’ll look at a door and I’ll remember the conversation that I had at that door,” Shapiro said, recalling his canvassing days during his state House run back in the early 2000s. “It’s really amazing.”
Shapiro has indeed come a long way since being elected to the House in 2004, but he’s never lost that sense of community that Montco living has afforded him. He has stayed in his Abington home while serving as attorney general, since he’s mostly able to work remote.
And he commutes to the state capitol when necessary, in addition to traveling throughout the commonwealth on attorney general business when it’s required.
Locally, he loves spots like Penn State Abington, where he spent time working during the pandemic; he would stroll around with his headphones on while virtually attending conference calls.
“That’s where we launched the [governor] campaign, right up there,” Shapiro said at one point during the interview, gesturing up to the spot on the campus where he told Pennsylvanians he was running to become their next chief executive.
He also pointed out the fields on the campus where he often takes his kids to play flag football with other neighborhood children on the weekends.
Shapiro has four children of his own, one of whom attends college in western Pennsylvania. The others are still school age.
Shapiro himself attended a Jewish day school while growing up in Upper Dublin, and he later went to the University of Rochester for undergrad and Georgetown University for law school.
Starting off his career as a state representative from Montgomery County, Shapiro never thought that he’d one day be running for governor.
“I just had my sights set on serving and doing a good job in the position I was in,” he said. “I’ve always been committed and dedicated to public service. And I knew I wanted to stay doing that. I really just felt that I wanted to maximize the impact I was having in the job that I was in.”
Shapiro looks fondly on his time as a state legislator, but he said he prefers to be in the executive branch, hence his moving on to the Attorney General’s Office and why he aims to become governor.
As a member of the executive branch, he said, “you’re called upon to make decisions, to get things done, to demonstrate real results, to take on big fights. So, it’s a totally different mindset, approach, discipline, and I very much prefer being an executive.”
As he runs for governor, Shapiro asked local voters to still look at him as the same guy who knocked on their door 17 years ago.
“I knocked on their doors and I listened and those conversations really impacted me and helped me understand them and their situations better and made me a better public servant because I could go and be a fierce advocate for them,” Shapiro said. “And I’ve never forgotten those conversations that we had in their living rooms and on their porches. And I want them to know I’m that same guy and still every bit as committed to working my tail off for them.”
Asked about his connection with voters from outside of southeastern Pennsylvania, Shapiro pointed out that folks statewide have twice elected him to be attorney general, and that he has been to all 67 Pennsylvania counties “repeatedly,” so people know who he is and what he stands for.
“I show up and I listen,” Shapiro said. “I think those folks know me. They know I fight for them. They know that I am unafraid to take on big fights, and that I deliver real results and that’s what I’ve done throughout my whole career.
“No matter what community you’re from, no matter what your community looks like, that’s what you want in your elected leader,” he said. “Someone who’s going to … fight for you every single day.”
But even though his sights are now set on the governor’s seat, Shapiro still recalls fondly those local projects with which he has been involved over the years, such as securing funding to help upgrade the Evelyn B. Wright field in the North Hills section of Upper Dublin Township that had fallen into disrepair.
That was one of the projects Shapiro remembers being involved with during his first state rep term back in the early 2000s, and one that he looks back on with fond memories.
“To me, those kinds of things are incredibly important,” Shapiro said on local governance. “Those are the things to this day that are really important to me.”