By Charles Winslow
MORGANTOWN – When West Virginians in the newly created Second Congressional District go to the polls May 10 for the Republican primary, they will have a choice between two currently serving congressmen and at least one newcomer to Mountain State politics, Susan Lochocki.
Not what many would consider a traditional Republican, Buchser-Lochocki, 56, is an artist, activist and business owner who moved to West Virginia two years ago after spending the previous 20 years living in Switzerland.
A Monongalia County resident, she was born in California where her father was stationed at Travis Air Force Base, lived on Guam as a small child then lived in western New York from age 10 to 18. Upon graduating high school, she attended the Parsons School of Design in New York City, studied illustration, earning her undergraduate degree in 1988.
Saying she has always been good at numbers, Buchser-Lochocki took a job with the New York branch of a Swiss bank, met her future husband and later followed him back to his native Switzerland. While there, she raised a daughter and was active in the ex-pat community, connecting with other Americans and promoting her “Smiles for Peace” initiative, which she describes as a multi-year plan to promote experiential art events globally, presenting her deep belief in democracy and presenting peaceful efforts against religious fanaticism, dictatorship and fascism.
“The smiles of people from all walks of life are the most powerful and peaceful weapon against a culture of fear and terrorism,” Buchser-Lochocki explained.
In 2020, Buchser-Lochocki decided it was time for her to return to the United States and, as it was centennial of the 19th Amendment – guaranteeing women the right to vote – she moved to West Virginia and embarked on a largely symbolic campaign to celebrate women’s progress in American politics by running as a write-in candidate for President on the Green Party line – with voters in up to 13 states having the opportunity to write her in as their choice.
“I decided to move to West Virginia, in part, because on all European mountain tops they play John Denver’s song and because geographically it’s close to Switzerland,” she said in explaining why she chose the Mountain State. What many Americans don’t realize is that Switzerland and West Virginia are almost the same size, she continued.
Describing herself as a “Red-Green candidate,” Buchser-Lochocki said she identifies more with the Republican Party than the Democrats because, in part, the GOP is more family-friendly. She said she had that epiphany when she received an email from an Obama Administration employee that said the employee was excited it was “back to school time” for her 3-year-old child. “I realized that the Democrats were institutionalizing childhood. Childhood should be a time for kids to play,” she said.
She is also explained as the daughter of a member of the U.S. Air Force who served in the Viet Nam conflict, she is pro-military, although she thinks that it should be “up-cycled” to bring it into the present day. “It shouldn’t be used for aggression but for defensive purposes. People should be able to benefit from it but we are not seeing it. I want to use the military in a different way, there are a lot of good people serving and it should give people a purpose in life.”
On that subject, she said she believes in mandated military service for young men and women, with the option of civil service, similar to what Switzerland and many western European countries do. Young people, if taught properly, can benefit from the experience and the training, she explained.
She said she would also like to see parental training provided for new parents. “We should be helping people become better parents. We are demeaning, and not raising, motherhood. It should be considered a career,” she said. “It’s the only way if we want a good next generation. Give mothers, especially single mothers, a voucher so that they can raise their children.”
On gun control, Buchser-Lochocki said she would like to take a chapter from Switzerland and require mandatary gun safety classes. With a population of 8.3 million, Switzerland has about 2 million privately owned guns and very low gun violence rates. The National Rifle Association argues that more rules on gun ownership aren’t necessary.
Legislatively, Buchser-Lochocki said she thinks it is time Congress goes back through the laws to streamline and update them. “I see one of my purposes as a member of the House of Representative will be to go through and get rid of frivolous laws,” she added.
“People should vote for me because I will have their best interests at heart. I won’t be accepting corporate money for my campaign,” Buchser-Lochocki concluded.