Welcome back to Broad + Liberty’s Candidate Spotlight Series! Each week, we reach out to candidates all across the Commonwealth up for election to public office — an equal number of Democrats and Republicans; incumbents and challengers. We ask one question per week about public policy pressing to you. Those who choose to respond will have their answers shared on our website every Wednesday through Sunday.

Earlier this week, we featured responses from our nominees for U.S. SenatorGovernor, Lt. Governor and U.S. Congress. Today, we’re wrapping up week five with answers from our General Assembly candidates.

If you are a candidate for public office in Pennsylvania and would like to participate, please reach out to lsattler@broadandliberty.com.

This week’s question: Recent years have seen a surge in violent crime not only in Philadelphia, but in smaller cities like Allentown and York. What is your plan to support good and effective policing and prosecutions? Do you support the actions of prosecutors who decline to enforce state law?

Broad + Liberty thanks the following campaigns for their participation. Click a link below to jump to the response from your district’s candidate!

Frank Agovino (R), Running for State Senate, District 26

Philadelphia has become criminally chaotic. As a candidate for PA Senatorial District 26, residents from across Delaware County tell me every day of their growing concern about rising crime. For the residents of Upper Darby Township, which borders Philadelphia, the concerns are that much more pervasive.

Let’s begin with the messaging from Philadelphia elected officials, DA Krasner and Mayor Kenney. Their soft messaging on crime has emboldened criminals. During Covid lockdowns, Philly Police Chief Outlaw and Mayor Kenney announced crimes that would no longer be important enough to garner law enforcement attention. As a first grader, did you play “Whisper Down the Lane,” where the original message changes drastically by the time it arrives at the end of the line? What do Philly officials think criminals heard when the Police Chief stated publicly that some crimes were no longer punishable? 

While the messaging from Philly is absurd, Delaware County’s message must ramp up. The shared border is seeing a spike in criminal activity in Upper Darby as nefarious actors move easily to and fro. Every stakeholder, from the DA to local police chiefs to the State Senator, must amplify a tough law-abiding no-tolerance approach to criminals, especially those that harm others.

Of course, tough messaging without action is pointless. We must provide law enforcement with more bodies, and more basic and innovative resources. We must continue to utilize organizations such as schools and churches to communicate clearly that police are to be respected, and that committing crimes will be prosecuted. A key component to good citizenry is respect for the rule of law. This is eroding and we must bring it back before Delco resembles Philadelphia.

Frank Agovino’s opponent, Tim Kearney, chose not to respond.

Jessica Florio (R), Running for State Senate, District 44

Supporting effective policing and prosecutions starts with supporting the people who are doing the policing and prosecuting. The men and women of law enforcement, who go to work every day with the desire to keep their community safe, should have the full support of our elected officials. In our cities and more densely-populated areas, we need to start rebuilding the ties between law enforcement and the community members they protect. Too often, the only time people have a chance to interact with law enforcement officials is in a negative situation. We need to increase the number of positive situations, events like National Night Out, so community members have a chance to interact with and get to know the people keeping their communities safe. Additionally, when law enforcement maintains a visible presence in the community, it can also act as a deterrent to anyone thinking of committing a crime.

I do not support prosecutors who decline to enforce the laws of our state. It is the judiciary’s role to enforce the laws, and it is the legislature’s job to create them. If a prosecutor is not happy with the laws, they should work to change the law, or consider becoming a legislator. Also, not enforcing a law because you “don’t agree with it” sets a bad example and further encourages people to break the law.

Jessica Florio’s opponent, Katie Muth, chose not to respond.

Edward Mongelluzzo (R), Running for State House, District 161

Prosecutors simply cannot take an oath to uphold the law and then choose which laws they wish to enforce. That is 100% wrong and I do not support it because they are, in my opinion, contributing to rising crime rates. If a prosecutor wants to make laws, they need to run for the legislature.

Edward Mongelluzzo’s opponent, Leanne Krueger-Braneky, chose not to respond.

Nichole Missino (R), Running for State House, District 165

There has been beyond a “surge.” There is so much crime and so little regard for life and for law enforcement.

Our district attorney is extremely soft on crime, as is Philadelphia’s DA. I support the police 100% and I feel like the idea of defunding them is ludicrous and reckless.

The police in my district are stellar. I believe they work tirelessly to keep the community safe.

Nichole Missino’s opponent, Jennifer O’Mara, chose not to respond.

Kristin Marcell (R), Running for State House, District 178

Prosecutors who take an oath to uphold the law and then selectively choose which laws to enforce are one hundred percent wrong and contribute to the rising crime we are seeing in those areas. If a prosecutor feels the need to fight for reforms or changes to the law, they need to run for the legislature, not for a prosecutor position. I strongly believe prosecutors who do not enforce the law contribute to rising crime rates, and actions should be taken against them until they do their jobs.

Ilya Breyman (D), Running for State House, District 178

We have to address police officer shortage and burnout by creating incentives for those willing to serve their communities to join the police force, because increased caseload and burnout are a real problem. We should also build public trust in police — by protecting police officers who keep our communities safe and providing police departments with tools to keep “bad apples” accountable. Finally, we need to get illegal guns off the streets in these cities, which means implementing common sense gun laws, including background checks and red-flag laws. 

The reality for many police departments is that for many communities, police are expected to fill holes created when other essential services are underfunded or don’t exist. Police aren’t the best tool to deploy to mental health crises or homelessness, but we still expect them to deal with those problems. This is bad for communities, bad for the public, and bad for police officers, who have less time and resources to work on doing the critical work of keeping our communities safe. However, any such decisions should be made by the legislature, not prosecutors or district attorneys.

I believe nobody is above the law. Not the wealthy, not the powerful, and not DAs and their assistants. District Attorneys can manage their offices’ workload based on staffing and budget constraints, but their political leanings should never come into play, because they don’t make the law. They enforce the law.

These offices should not be political. Unfortunately, because most counties in PA are very lopsided in terms of party registrations and DAs are elected in municipal elections with low turnout, most of them are effectively elected in closed primaries by voters of one of the two parties. For example, the decision to reelect Larry Krasner was made by about 12% of Philadelphians who voted for him in the primary. This problem can be resolved by switching to nonpartisan elections of DAs, repealing closed primaries, and introducing ranked choice voting. While our society leads innovation in many ways, we should also be using this spirit when it comes to making our democracy more representative and our society more free.

Broad + Liberty is a nonprofit media endeavor dedicated to sharing voices and stories that are shut out of other media outlets. @BroadAndLiberty

Leave a (Respectful) Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *