Better economic opportunities can help lift people out of poverty and strengthen communities. We need to connect people with affordable and effective job training to prepare them for better-paying jobs and careers to invest in not only in themselves but in our neighborhoods. We also must recognize that stable, affordable housing and food are the backbone of a productive workforce and a healthy society. As someone who has battled homelessness and poverty, I understand the corrosiveness of hopelessness and the need for self-determination to overcome many obstacles in one's life. Improving the services that help individuals and families succeed, including effective schools, accountable social support programs, and better infrastructure and transportation, will prove vital for economic growth for all. Small businesses also need effective legislation and efficient programs that help identify development and investment opportunities so they can grow and thrive. The 182nd has some of the oldest non-profits in the state and country that often struggle to find sufficient funding yet provide some of the most effective services. Better access to state funding is essential. Additionally, supporting unions is crucial to ensuring workers have fair living wages, benefits, and healthcare to create a family-sustaining workforce.
Fully funded public education should not be up for debate. We need to stop normalizing unsafe schools and fully invest in the tools and resources for children to learn and teachers to teach. I am a strong proponent of public schools and working teachers. Furthermore, our schools should teach real-life skills, including financial literacy, job skills, and civic engagement, to prepare our young people to be confident, successful, engaged citizens. There is more than one way to succeed, and we must invest in vocational and college preparatory programs and foster our entrepreneurs to continue to push innovation forward.
We live in a district and city with some of the best healthcare systems in the country. But too many people face disparities, including unequal treatment and costs that prohibit even the most basic preventative and standard health services. No one should have to suffer due to unequal treatment or financial restraints or choose between their medication and their groceries. I am an experienced health advocate who believes in providing affordable healthcare for all, and I intend to bring that fight to Harrisburg. If elected, I will bring informed solutions to the opioid crisis, homelessness, and affordable healthcare.
For years, the solution to gun violence in our communities has been putting band-aids on a horrific situation. Adding more police and putting more people in jail does not address the root cause of gun violence. Often the answer comes down to poverty, racism, and implicit bias, and we need to address those issues head-on. Job training programs, better wages, and more access to resources at a young age make a tremendous difference. There are organizations on the ground and across the state making meaningful progress. We should be funding organizations and programs with proven success and reevaluating those that have not made significant gains. Let’s bring a real coalition to the table to genuinely and openly learn from each other. Safe streets cannot simply be a slogan. The 182nd is home to some of the most walkable neighborhoods and tourist attractions in Pennsylvania. Over the past few decades, we have seen a significant uptick in petty crime and a deterioration of our communities. If elected, I will work to bring back clean, safe, green streets and business corridors.
We need a robust plan focusing on our energy burden to address ways to stall global warming, save taxpayers money, and shore up our city and state from inevitably increasing weather events and infrastructure breakdowns. We need to invest in renewable energy and significantly decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. Corporations must be held responsible for damage to our environment and health – there is a path toward sustainable economic growth that does not put our communities in harm’s way and creates strong union jobs. Good use of funds and programs would allow us to be proactive, generate new revenue, and not force us to act reactively. By being both economically and environmentally prudent, we can become part of a competitive economy that bolsters a better quality of life and thriving neighborhoods. (See our Op-Ed on Tackling Energy Burden in the Philadelphia Inquirer)
I, along with the majority of all PA voters (58%), fully support the legalization of recreational cannabis for adults. By decriminalizing, legalizing, and taxing marijuana, we can create a tremendous source of state revenue that can help us not only fully fund our schools but bolster our treatment centers. Pain management cannot be solely driven by our pharmaceutical industry when numerous studies show that cannabis often has fewer side effects and far less dependency. Cannabis treatment can be one of the many avenues to lower the opioid epidemic plaguing our city. We must do right for the thousands in jail on marijuana-related charges – their records must be fully expunged so that they can re-enter our workforce and society. Finally, we need a fair and transparent process for marijuana sales and taxation in the state of Pennsylvania. I fully support the passing of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act into law to better protect the commercial activities and growth potential of the cannabis industry on the state level.
Dedication to Constituent Services
In addition to serving constituents by representing them in state-wide legislation decisions, I believe it is crucial to have strong service support for constituents who need assistance. While state representatives spend much of their time in Harrisburg fighting for the district's interests, service must also include responding to constituents' requests for information and help. When I am elected state representative, I don’t want my constituents to go more than two business days without a response to their inquiry.
I intend to make information readily available through all channels including responsive text messaging and email services.It’s important that even if we cannot answer the question directly, we can direct constituents to the correct resources and be able to explain the difference between state issues, city issues, and personal or business issues.
Often the answers are unclear or confusing. Take Philadelphia’s 2,335 miles of roadway, for instance. Responsibility for maintaining and overseeing the roads is split among the Philadelphia Streets Department, PennDOT, the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department, and several other public and private entities. So who’s responsible for fixing that pothole? Even if we can’t, you deserve to know who can.
Other common issues where a state representative’s office may be helpful include state unemployment benefits, property taxes, birth and death records, driver and vehicle information, state education grants, state healthcare resources, and voter information. Your state representative works for you, and you shouldn’t be left on the hook.