BioGT attended Bald Eagle Area High School where he was a football player, wrestler, and track and field athlete. He started dating and later married his high school sweetheart, Penny Ammerman. After graduating from high school, GT started working as an orderly at a local nursing home by night, and attended classes at Penn State by day.
Thompson’s first job after receiving a degree from The Pennsylvania State University was in a group home, working with people with intellectual disabilities. From there, he went to work as an Assistant Recreational Therapist making $7000/year. It didn’t take long for GT to move up in the ranks. All the while, he volunteered as a fire fighter in Howard Township, volunteered his time as an Emergency Medical Technician, and became even more involved in scouting.
Serving as the Rehabilitation Services Manager, his last promotion, GT had responsibilities for Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Recreation Therapists, Speech Therapists and Nursing staff.
GT spent 6 years on the Bald Eagle Area School Board. He continued to be actively involved in Boy Scouts, served in his church, and he volunteered professionally. He joined organizations such as the Pennsylvania Therapeutic Recreation Society and the American Therapeutic Recreation Association and again, assumed leadership roles in these volunteer positions. GT became involved in public policy in these organizations because government regulations were negatively impacting his patients and he wanted to make a difference. GT visited both the State Capitol and the Nation’s Capital and while intimidated at first, found that he could be effective in changing policy.
“If you can help improve life for others by getting involved and going to Harrisburg and by going to Washington, then maybe if I got involved in the election of these people, it would give me a little more leverage and so frankly, that’s why I decided to get involved in politics.” During this time, GT had also been traveling to and from Philadelphia, attending classes at Temple University, working on yet another achievement – a Masters Degree.
GT Runs for Office
After feeling some success, GT made the decision to run for State Representative against a 10+ year incumbent, who continues to hold that office. “I lost, but not by much, but this isn’t horseshoes, so it didn’t count,” he chuckled.
Another unsuccessful attempt at running for that same office two years later left GT and his family weary. An unpaid position, County Republican Committee Chairman, became available and GT was elected and completed six successful years there. He was appointed by the County Commissioners to serve on the Workforce Investment Board, a nine county board that oversees the Workforce Investment Act. GT also served as the Vice Chairman on the Board of PICC, >>>>>>>>. “Being a County Chairman is a full time job, after you do your full time job!” But, this was a great opportunity to work with local candidates, state candidates and even national candidates.
As news of the retirement of the Representative to the U.S. House started to circulate, GT entertained the idea of running for Congress, but potential health issues that required testing actually slowed the decision. Several people had thrown their hats in the ring, and it was a difficult decision for many reasons. Positive news regarding his health issues finally led to his decision to run. With no money, and frankly, no resources for money, GT made the leap of faith and decided to run a grassroots campaign and took a leave of absence from his full-time job. With no healthcare insurance ( because he could not afford COBRA insurance) but lots of vim and vigor, GT set out to win the Primary, and $24,000 later, that’s exactly what he did. His opponents, the gentlemen who came in second, third and fourth, had spent a total of $3.5 million.
Thompson Receives Endorsement
Congressman Peterson, with two weeks remaining before the Primary, called GT to tell him he was officially endorsing the Thompson Campaign. Peterson said “In order to be an agent of change and not be changed, one must demonstrate maturity, life experience, and be fundamentally grounded.” Peterson felt that GT had exhibited those qualities. GT felt honored to have Peterson’s confidence.
After winning the General Election, GT took office in the 111th Congress with a rank of 433 out of 435 Members of Congress. His first term in office in the minority party was naturally very challenging, but “hiring right” was the most important decision he could make. GT speaks very highly of his staff that always prepare him well for meetings, work very hard, and have great amounts of experience.
First Year Accomplishments
It’s been said the minority party is the conscience of Congress. “Being in the minority is difficult. It’s really about communication. You have little time to legislate.” However, in his first year, GT was appointed to be the Co-chair for the Congressional Healthcare Caucus, which was a difficult area to break in to, because most people in this area are physicians. GT’s ability to communicate, his knowledge of health care, his debate on the House floor and insight into healthcare issues earned him a spot in this caucus.