top of page

ABOUT SAM

I am a veteran, mother, renter, writer, personal trainer, community organizer, and proud resident of Bellevue. I am running for Allegheny County Council at a pivotal time: our region is lurching from one economy to another, our county will soon transition from one County Executive to the next, and Pittsburgh’s ascendant coalition of progressives and socialists has earned the nation’s attention. Our local campaign by and for the poor and working-class people of District 13 is part of a global movement on behalf of a vibrant future for our planet and its inhabitants. These disruptions — breaking-points, break-throughs — are why I do the work that I do. It’s why I’m running.

Before becoming a full-time organizer, I spent 17 years of my life enlisted in the United States Army, mostly as a reservist. During my service, I refined my own sense of discipline, setting myself on a path toward my career as a personal trainer. But the Army also taught me about power, and the courage and vision it takes to demand change within a seemingly unchangeable system. During my time in uniform, I became a whistleblower for the waste, fraud, and environmental abuse that runs rampant in our military. Later, I demanded mental health support and medical marijuana access for my fellow soldiers, in conjunction with better suicide and sexual assault prevention, which is rampant throughout the branches of the military.

Since leaving the Army, I have become an activist for environmental causes, women's rights, mental health advocacy, and food and housing justice. I work with mutual aid and non-profit groups across Western Pennsylvania and beyond to build coalitions and render aid that meets the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. 

 

I do this work because it is right, and because I know our frayed social support systems inside and out. I lived much of childhood and adult life in poverty. I’ve spent years in the food service industry, making as little as $2.83 per hour in PA, depending on the kindness of shitty customers for tips to make ends meet. I’ve been homeless. I’ve recovered from addiction. Now that I’ve found stability — in no small part thanks to my V.A. benefits — I pay it forward through mutual aid. 

 

If elected, I pledge to donate my yearly stipend to the mutual aid groups who are already doing the work we need to reach our goals. I will elevate my organizing work through my political platform, pushing Allegheny County to lead by example with more compassionate, effective, and equitable governance. My hope is that our movement here in Allegheny County can demonstrate that a better world is possible.

 

Will you join me in my fight?

Why I Care About My Platform

A unique set of life experiences and the privilege of education access through my time in the service has made me a uniquely qualified leader for district 13.

Sam Schmidt and community members during a trash clean up in Wilkinsburg, PA

Volunteer

I do about 10-15 hours of paid labor per week. The vast majority of my time is spent doing volunteer work within the community. A few days every week, you can find me distributing hot meals, water, hygiene and personal items to our unhoused neighbors Downtown, in the Hill District, on the North Side, and in Homewood with local mutual aid groups. I am also an active volunteer with JFCS, where I support refugee reestablishment throughout the county. I do political and community outreach work with the Pittsburgh DSA, and volunteer in service of seniors and others with North Hills Community Outreach. I also occasionally do tabling events for the ACLU locally, and support the political campaigns of progressive candidates locally and nationally.

Sam Schmidt holding a sign during a protest in downtown Pittsburgh, PA

Activist

I was first drawn to activism during my time in the Army, where I was a whistleblower for environmental violations and fraud, waste, and abuse. I left the Army as an activist for mental health support and medical marijuana access for soldiers, who die about twice as often from suicide as from combat. I march for environmental causes, and my daughter has marched by my side since she was in kindergarten. We also organize for reproductive access for all women and feminine-presenting folks, as well as for legislation that would easily curtail America's now-daily mass casualty events. 

Sam Schmidt smiling with their daughter

Mother

For 13 years, I was a single mother living below the poverty line. Childcare is now the second biggest expense in most American households, and we're one of the few affluent countries of the world that don’t consider maternity leave an employee right. Pittsburgh's Gender Equity Report recently determined that Black women are more likely to die during pregnancy than 97 percent of their peers in major American cities.  Food Stamp and medical assistance access are being cut for our most vulnerable. This needs to change!

Sam Schmidt in their bartending uniform with their daughter in the background

Restaurant Worker

I spent more than 15 years in the service industry, where exploitation is a constant. The service industry lives on the periphery of wage and labor law enforcement; employees are asked to sacrifice their physical and mental health, holidays, nights and weekends, and time with family and community for as little as $2.83 per hour. In a time when the “living wage” for a single adult without children in Pittsburgh is $16 per hour, I consider this a travesty. Before my last bartending role ended in 2020, I successfully negotiated for increased wages for my fellow bartenders and servers, with adjusted shift schedules, operating hours, and tip-pooling protocols for a steadier income and healthier work-life balance for my coworkers. Today, I am an active, trained member of the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee. I am ready to fight for workers' rights!

A bust of philosopher and economist Karl Marx

Socialist

I started to become more politically aware and interested in our socio-economic failures during my undergraduate studies. I went on to complete a master's program, where I became completely infatuated with studies in the relationships between capitalism, patriarchy, systemic racism, sexism, and most importantly, climate change. After years of study while witnessing first hand the extreme waste and misappropriation of funds in the Department of Defense, it became clear that the military industrial complex and capitalism were not something that I could ethically align myself with. I became a DSA member last year and have since continued my studies in alternatives to capitalism. In 2021, I founded America's first socialist, employee-owned and directed personal training business. There, only my "employees" profit (and make a living wage), and I happily support them.

Buying an apartment

Renter

Like many people born after 1985, homeownership has always been out of reach for me. This is especially true because I do not have the luxury of generational wealth, or the financial support of family. Homeownership is unobtainable for so many of us, and landlords are highly favored in civil and magisterial-level court proceedings. Regardless of your political affiliation, we can all agree: the rent is too damn high! Making sure that tenant organizers have the space and protection of government in forming labor unions is a practice I would like to implement. I would also like to cap rent increases, and mandate legal representation for all tenants in landlord-tenant proceedings. Finally, I'd like to limit the number of single-family properties that corporations are able to buy. 

bottom of page