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Personal bankruptcy is not a bar to a career in public service

Both in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, people who have been through a bankruptcy are becoming more accepted in public service professions, such as serving in a legislative body or otherwise holding public office. Some of them even champion fiscally conservative platforms. Increasingly, they are freely sharing their struggle and bankruptcy filing as being a valuable learning experience.

One man who resides in a state adjacent to Pennsylvania is an example of the phenomenon. He serves as a councilman in his local government and is currently running for a county freeholder position. He stresses the importance of fiscal management and points to his financial ordeal when he lost a coupon business and had to file for bankruptcy protection in 2011.

In the bankruptcy filing, he listed debts that included $163,720 in credit card debt, two house mortgages totaling $417,324.49 and business debt of $79,000. The mortgages are on his home in Ramsey, New Jersey, which is valued at $440,000. He has reported  $538,598.85 in assets and $581,045.12 in liabilities.

It is common for a small businessperson to call upon the federal bankruptcy laws for protection when a business has not succeeded. Generally, all of the unsecured debt totaled up by credit card spending and other personal credit is discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The remedy can cut a family's expenses down to a point where they can often afford to keep their home and continue the payments without the burden of a huge unsecured debt load. The remedies are generally similar in Pennsylvania and other states, but one should consult with a bankruptcy attorney to determine the nature and amounts of the exemptions available under federal and state law, and how they will be applied in that particular case.

Source:, "Bergen County GOP freeholder candidate says bankruptcy taught him hard fiscal lessons", Marina Villeneuve, Oct. 4, 2015

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