Last January, on his second day in the legislature, Chris Rabb tore his ACL in a pickup B-ball game with staffers at Harrisburg Area Community College.
Omen? Harbinger of horrors to come? Sign he should turn around, head home to Philly?
"The next day, I was on the House floor in a wheelchair," he says. "Because when you fall down, you get up. That's what I do. I get up."
After one year in an often-falling-down legislature – a year marked both by frustration and hope – Rabb hopes the institution gets up, too.
"It's so frustrating," Rabb says, "emblematic of over-representation by men, everywhere but especially in public service. And a structure that allows it to persist with a paucity of options for those aggrieved."
"Political will and moral courage. The fix is for those who feel as strongly as I do to work for reforms beyond a press release or hours of training. If you need to be told [not to sexually harass someone], you probably shouldn't be in office."
He adds, "Bottom line: Awful behavior has to be punished. It's making this already-fragile institution look far worse. It has to stop. It requires loud, organized leadership."
This is the last of four columns following Rabb's freshman year, his experiences, his thoughts.
Why him? He's a rarity. He won his Northwest Philly seat in 2016 after beating a heavily backed Democratic incumbent in a primary.
So, upstart outsider AND Chicago native who fought and beat the machine.
Plus, he owns credentials unusual in the legislature. Degrees from Yale and Penn. Experience in the U.S. Senate, with the White House, in entrepreneurship, and as an author, a former teacher at Temple's business school, a fellow at the German Marshall Fund and the Poynter Institute.
He's a pragmatic progressive bent on playing a long game based on relationship-building and civility; a self-described "strong advocate for those on the margins."
Earlier columns offered his views of the legislature's structural problems, budget failures, partisanship, dysfunction and more.
This time, he reflects on some positives.
"On the same day [Dec. 12] we passed the most divisive bill of the year," a 20-week abortion ban later vetoed by Gov. Wolf, "I experienced bipartisan inclusion in the House Urban Affairs Committee," he says.
He was "shocked" the GOP-controlled committee welcomed an amendment he offered to expand a measure providing loans for micro-enterprise entities, businesses with 10, five, even fewer workers – bakeries, child-care centers and such – most in poorer and rural areas.
"It was the kind of cooperation so many people want to see. Every district has a population of struggling business owners. It showed me potential," he says.
Even better, Senate legislation he sponsored in the House creating a "First Chance Trust Fund" of scholarships and other aid for children of incarcerated parents became law.
"It's innovative. It was bipartisan. It's the first of its kind in the nation. And it can change the lives of vulnerable kids," he says.
He describes his job as one of "multiple responsibilities beyond legislation:" speaking out on policy issues; pushing reforms; holding events in his Mount Airy, Chestnut Hill, West Oak Lane district; helping constituents "keep the lights on, or with job prospects."
He concedes ongoing frustration with Harrisburg, but still hopes for "diligence and introspection on how to lead on a bipartisan level… We have to get our house in order."
He plans to seek reelection. He's "figuring out how to be a full-time legislator, candidate and parent [two sons, 11 and 14], while continuing community events and getting more deeply involved in the budget process in terms of my district."
He also hopes to revisit an unusual talent.
I learned in our first interview he's a long-time martial arts fan, and he once walked down a flight of stairs on his hands as a stunt during a fund-raiser.
So he hopes to walk on his hands again — as soon as he fully recovers from that torn ACL.