I am running to restore integrity to our political process and public confidence in our elected representatives. Pennsylvania’s system of accountability for elected officials is among the weakest in the country. I support comprehensive campaign finance reform that limits the size of contributions and requires detailed disclosure about how campaign funds are spent. We need to make sure that our legislators are working for the people rather than doing the bidding of special interests and the select few who fund their campaigns.
My time in the U.S. Army and in ministry has taught me that we need public leaders intent on serving the people, not career politicians. That’s why I’m prepared to support term limits for members of our General Assembly. Thirty years ago, not a single state had term limits even though most Americans support the idea. Today, 15 states have instituted term limits for their legislatures. By working to elect representatives who support term limits, we can make sure our leaders are focused on the interests of all Pennsylvanians instead of advancing never-ending political careers.
As a state, we need to rein in our hyper-partisan political environment. Pennsylvania allows its state legislators to draw their own districts, which can result in non-competitive elections that perpetuate political extremism and a lack of accountability. This system has turned the concept of democracy upside down. I believe the voters should get to choose their representatives instead of the other way around, which is why I’ll fight to end partisan gerrymandering and put the voters back in charge.
Finally, we need to make our elections more accessible. I support same-day voter registration, in-person early voting, and allowing registered independents to vote in primary elections. I will work with anyone in either party to improve the lives of Pennsylvania’s residents, strengthen our community, and put an end to partisan politics.
I and my two children all graduated from public school right here in South Central Pennsylvania. Ensuring equal access to high-quality public education is the most important thing our elected leaders can do to help our children succeed and our democracy remain strong. I will work with state, local, and national stakeholders to expand the availability of pre-k programming and address Pennsylvania’s teacher shortages in high-need school districts.
I also believe schools should be for learning, not for administering an endless barrage of standardized tests. The 20-year-old fixation on standardized testing has helped to enrich test development companies, but it hasn’t helped students, parents, teachers, or taxpayers. While standardized testing can be a useful diagnostic tool, it should be limited in scope rather than the primary focus of instruction or teacher evaluation.
Equitable school funding is perhaps the most critical component of our public education system. But Pennsylvania has overburdened local communities with the responsibility of raising the revenue necessary to support their school districts. The result has been an explosion in local property taxes, which is devastating to taxpayers, students, and seniors. The standard of education that our children receive should be high-quality regardless of zip code, and I will fight to make sure that more is done at the state level to ensure that it is.
I am committed to ensuring that quality health care is affordable and accessible for all Pennsylvanians. As a veteran of our armed forces and as a pastor in our local community, I have seen firsthand how pre-existing medical conditions can cause significant physical, emotional, and financial hardship. Unfortunately, special interests are currently working at the national level to remove federal protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. If they succeed, state governments will be the last line of defense between people with pre-existing conditions and potentially bankrupting medical debt.
As a state senator, I will support efforts to enact paid family and medical leave. I will fight to end the practice of surprise medical billing. I will work to empower health care professionals to increase patient access, particularly for primary care and in rural areas. Finally, I will pressure fellow lawmakers to take up the recommendations for reducing the cost of prescription drugs that were recently outlined in a report released by Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. In the wealthiest nation on earth, no one should have to choose between paying their medical bills and paying for their mortgage, rent, or utilities. No one should have to skip treatment in order to afford groceries. And no one should have to cut their pills in half in order to make ends meet.