Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, the chairperson of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, plans to run for the state's open US Senate seat in 2022. (Courtesy of Montgomery County) Valerie Arkoosh
Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, the chairperson of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, plans to run for the state's open US Senate seat in 2022. (Courtesy of Montgomery County)

Arkoosh would be the first woman to represent Pennsylvania in the US Senate if she’s elected.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY — Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, the chairperson of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, plans to run for Pennsylvania’s open US Senate seat next year.

If elected, Arkoosh would be the first woman to represent the state in the US Senate.

Arkoosh, a Democrat, announced her candidacy in a campaign video released Monday.

“Now we’re at a critical moment,” she said. “I’m fiercely determined to make sure we do what’s right—that we stand up to Trump Republicans, push back on their harmful agenda. Instead, we’ll build a future that lifts people up—rebuild our infrastructure with good-paying union jobs, protect our planet by addressing the climate crisis, finish the job we started to lower the cost of health care.”

Arkoosh, 60, is the first woman to be voted chairperson of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, a position she has held since 2016. Montgomery County, one of the four counties that make up the Philadelphia suburbs, is Pennsylvania’s third most populous county and second wealthiest.

Arkoosh told The Philadelphia Inquirer that her experience in Montgomery County—with its small cities, suburban areas, and farmland—has prepared her to represent the state.

“I’ve had to serve all of those different constituents so I feel ready and able to take that experience … all across the state,” she said. “Certainly there is a very strong Democratic base here in the county and I would hope that most of those individuals would be interested in supporting me in that primary.”

Arkoosh told the Inquirer that she supports increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour and ending the filibuster.

Arkoosh ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2015.

Before she entered politics, Arkoosh was a doctor, college professor, and public health advocate.

As president of the National Physicians Alliance, Arkoosh helped fight for the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Arkoosh served for five years as the chairperson of the Department of Anesthesiology at the Drexel University College of Medicine. She also served as interim chairperson of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Before she joined the faculty at Drexel, Arkoosh taught clinical anesthesiology and clinical obstetrics and gynecology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Northwestern University, a medical degree from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine, and a master’s of public health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Arkoosh is competing with Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta for the Democratic party’s nomination for the seat currently occupied by Sen. Pat Toomey.

Toomey is not seeking reelection.

Several other Democrats are considering running for the seat: State Sen. Sharif Street has formed an exploratory committee and filed a candidacy statement with the Federal Elections Commission. And US Reps. Conor Lamb and Chrissy Houlahan have said they are considering seeking the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat.

On the Republican side, Jeff Bartos, the GOP’s unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 2018, has declared his candidacy.

About half a dozen other lesser known or first-time candidates from both parties have also announced their candidacies.