John Hershey brings the timeless values of Pennsylvania with the dynamic energy of youth as a legislator who gets things done for the people of our region. Now in his second term, John’s life has been guided by his Christian faith and informed by the values-based education he received as a lifelong resident of Juniata County and a graduate of Messiah College.
The son of a father who works the agricultural industry and a mother who was a teacher, John began adult life as an administrator with a religiously based non-profit that made life-changing “micro-loans” to farmers in East Africa. He and his brother went on to start an online specialty coffee retail business, with the proceeds enabling struggling farmers to transition from subsistence farming to cash crops.
“People don’t prosper when you simply give them money to feed their families the next day. They prosper when their families can look forward to meals and good health in the years ahead because the solution is in place, right there in their homes and fields,” he explains.
Agriculture has been at the forefront of John’s efforts. As a congressional aide, he helped write a Farm Bill that sought to protect Pennsylvania’s dairy farmers who were under siege by the Obama administration.
“They banned whole milk from our schools, somehow claiming that a food that raised countless generations of Americans was now a threat to our children,” he says. “They also tried to strengthen heavy-handed regulations that would saddle our farmers with red tape for generations. We forced the administration to remember who we are, where we came from and what has made our nation strong in the past.”
In the Pennsylvania House, John has been a leader in policies to connect the next generation of farmers with the land of places like Perry and Juniata counties. He proposed a grant program to help farmers comply with increasingly burdensome state and federal environmental regulations. He recently helped secure a grant with Representative Mark Keller (R-Perry), helping rural Perry and Juniata countians gain access to needed high-speed internet services.
“We need to recognize that, from farm-to-fork, agriculture remains the major industry in Pennsylvania. We need to support agriculture and the families that rely on it, whether it’s as a source of income or a source of food,” John says.
The legislator has also stood on the frontlines of policy debates that define our core values.
John not only supported a “Heartbeat” bill to protect the unborn, but also was a leader in the fight to pass the Down Syndrome Protection Act after discovering that many abortion providers were encouraging women to terminate the lives of unborn children that received that diagnosis.
“When we start playing with whose life counts and whose doesn’t, we’re authoring the destruction of our people,” Hershey says. Helping the young is a watchword in the Hershey house, where John’s wife, Wendy, serves as a Perry County teacher.
John sits on the Judiciary Committee and has served on the frontlines of the fight to combat extreme gun-control laws in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. He has stopped the Democrats’ and Gov. Tom Wolf’s most extreme proposals, while advancing Second Amendment-based priorities like constitutional carry and state-level pre-emption.
John serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and from that vantage point, he has been able to secure millions of dollars in state investment in his district. Two of his most notable achievements are the reconstruction of the bridge that provides main access to the Juniata County Library in Mifflintown and expansion of the Mifflin-Juniata Academy, where educators are training the next generation of central Pennsylvania’s workforce.
John has been able to protect small businesses from the heavy hand of DEP regulators, working to speed up delayed permits and assisting job-creators in any area. And John has accomplished these things while hewing closely to a standard of fiscal restraint. He has been a key player in efforts to block the Wolf administration from enacting a range of record-breaking tax hikes.
“Pennsylvania doesn’t have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem. My view is that we need to set Pennsylvania on a path to fiscal success,” John says.
He is also committed to putting an end to no-excuse mail-in voting, a program that began as a relatively modest set of reforms in the General Assembly before being rewritten by the courts and the Wolf administration in ways that threaten the integrity of every vote.
“I think every vote should count. Once. And that vote should be validated by showing identification and voting without fear or manipulation by some third party,” John explains.
Lifelong central Pennsylvanians, John and Wendy Hershey live in Mifflin, where they are active members of Cedar Grove Church. He also serves on the boards of the Christian Retreat Center, a youth camp in southern Juniata County and the Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce. John is a Life member of the NRA and active in the Juniata County Farm Bureau. In Harrisburg, he serves as the legislative co-chair of the annual Prayer Breakfast.