Two former congressmen visited Millersville Monday, October 20. Hon. Martin Lancaster (D-NC) and Hon. Jim Coyne (R-PA) spoke with students from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Lehr room of Gordinier Hall. Millersville University Civic and Community Engagement sponsored the event. Food was provided for attendees and the congressmen to enjoy.
Lancaster was a U.S. Representative from North Carolina from 1987 to 1995. He is also the former Chair of the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges and former President of the North Carolina Community College System.
Lancaster grew up on a tobacco farm in North Carolina. He explained that North Carolina is demographically, economically and religiously diverse. “From serving I saw so many cultural and racial differences across this amazing country,” Lancaster said.
He started getting involved with politics when he worked with the state legislature as a teenager. After attending University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in law, Lancaster joined the Navy for 26 years.
Soon after moving home, he became active in politics.
The advice I would give to a young person interested in running for congress now is vastly different than it would have been 20 years ago. “20 years ago I would have said take the traditional road,” Lancaster said. He suggested getting involved in civic engagement, developing relationships and working at receiving a good education.
“Being the father of two daughters and grandfather to two granddaughters, I am interested in issues affecting women,” Lancaster said. These issues include equal pay and women making their own decisions about their bodies.
An interesting occurrence took place when Northern Ireland did research to find what higher education model they wanted for recreate for their schools. They wanted their higher education system to be similar to North Carolina. Northern Ireland began building a relationship with Lancaster by inviting him to give speeches, observe the schools and provide feedback. Northern Ireland wanted to award Lancaster for his work and input by awarding him with the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and giving him the title “Sir Martin.” Under the U.S. Constitution, it prohibits U.S. citizens to accept foreign titles.
Coyne was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in Pennsylvania from 1981 to 1983. He has been a pilot for over 40 years. Coyne has held leadership positions in the National Air Transportation Association for 20 years.
Coyne advised students who are interested in becoming a part of congress to get involved. His advice to younger generation is “Number one: vote.” He advised to work for a campaign. There are many different tasks a person can take on when in a campaign. “It’s like a great big, year-long football game,” Coyne said, referring to campaign. Coyne suggests that it is a good position to take if you enjoy competition and want to change the country. The job also involves traveling.
“Education doesn’t stop when you leave Millersville,” Coyne said. According to Coyne, U.S. citizens should understand the way the country governs. He advises that students should be aware of the differences between Republicans and Democrats.
“It’s important to realize [that young people] can change the government,” Coyne said. He goes on to say that things are going to change with or without their input. This is why he believes being active in politics is important.
Coyne played a role in legislation that defeated the Soviet Union. His legislation legacy includes promoting volunteerism in while he worked in the White House with programs such as Adopt A School. He also supported bills to limit to congressional terms.
Coyne also wants to be remembered for his career in aviation and his work improving transportation. Also, he has a personal interest in history.
He is proud that he has been married to the same woman for 45 years. They have three kids and six grandchildren. Coyne has travelled to 60 foreign countries, to all 50 states, and has a certain fondness for mountainous areas. “I would be a fool if I didn’t say Pennsylvania was my favorite state,” Coyne said.