And we’re back with 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. (Please read a statement about our unresponsive candidates here.)
Earlier this week, Pennsylvania’s nominees for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and U.S. Congress detailed their plans to work across party lines. Today, nominees for Pennsylvania’s General Assembly weigh in.
If you are a candidate for public office in Pennsylvania and would like to participate in our series, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s question: As the debate over the “soul of the nation” intensifies, there are increased calls for unification between parties but increasing moves toward division. How do you plan to serve all your constituents regardless of ideological disposition?
Broad + Liberty thanks the following campaigns for their participation. Click a link below to jump to the response from your district’s candidate!
- Rob Davies (R), Running for State Senate, District 12
- Jessica Florio (R), Running for State Senate, District 44
- Kristin Marcell (R), Running for State House, District 178
- Ilya Breyman (D), Running for State House, District 178
Rob Davies (R), Running for State Senate, District 12
I’m running for State Senate to find commonsense solutions to the many problems we face. These are problems that we face together, and all have an interest in fixing. We are all paying too much for gas and groceries. Everyone’s utility bills are skyrocketing. We all want safe streets and communities in which we live, shop, work, and visit. We all want an education system that actually educates children, and does so at a cost taxpayers can bear.
I hear about these problems when talking to voters, and I talk to voters across the political spectrum. I want to know what their concerns are and what ideas they have for making things better. I will bring my experience in business and local government to the table and work to find solutions. In four years, voters can decide whether they are better off than they are today and whether I helped make a difference. I believe this is the standard by which political leaders should be judged.
Rob Davies’ opponent, Maria Collett, chose not to respond.
Jessica Florio (R), Running for State Senate, District 44
Calls for unity between parties need to be followed up by actions that will unify people, not drive them further apart. Too often, our elected officials, including my opponent, resort to mud-slinging, name-calling personal attacks, and schoolyard bickering when they don’t agree with fellow members. As legislators, we should lead by example and rely on the strength of our argument, not the wittiness of our comeback, to win over those who disagree with us.
As State Senator, I will lead by example in my district, in addition to leading by example in Harrisburg. If someone comes into my office in need of assistance, that’s what is important; not who they voted for, or whether or not they voted for me. The job of elected officials is to serve all of the people they represent, not just the ones who voted for them. Additionally, I plan to communicate with my constituents about upcoming legislation, and offer them ways to share their thoughts and feedback with me. This seat belongs to all of us, and we should all feel as though we have an equal voice.
Jessica Florio’s opponent, Katie Muth, chose not to respond.
Kristin Marcell (R), Running for State House, District 178
Governing is about finding common ground solutions, not serving a political agenda. To do this, one must always stick to their core principles — in my case, things like limited government, fiscal responsibility, and ensuring public safety — while working with all legislators to find those solutions. One must also make sure to listen to all sides when examining proposed legislation or policies. Doing so ensures that an elected official has a broad range of input and facts on which to base their decision. This is something I have done as a local elected official and something I will do as State Representative. When those you serve see this simple approach (listening, learning, and finding common ground) in action, it automatically begins to bridge the partisan divide that exists today, which is why I have earned the support of people of all political parties.
Ilya Breyman (D), Running for State House, District 178
The Founding Fathers of our great nation warned us against factionalism. James Madison, in Federalist 10, makes a brilliant argument which was summarized later by Justice John Paul Stevens: “Parties ranked high on the list of evils that the Constitution was designed to check,” a dissent joined by none other than Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Madison believed the organization of the government of the Republic into multiple levels of local, state, and federal representation, and the checks and balances between the three branches, would mitigate the propensity of people to divide “into parties, [which] inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.”
Unfortunately, the Framers couldn’t predict the advent of unchecked campaign finance and dark money and the rising dominance of unelected party bureaucrats and talking-head pundits over the electoral process.
To make matters even worse, a growing number of our fellow Americans seem convinced that only through ideological purity can America be saved, seduced by the commonsense simplicity of that position. That simplicity is, after all, the draw of extremism: it is easy. It’s “us” versus “them.” It’s comfortable — you are always surrounded by familiar faces, sharing familiar memes, faithfully repeating the same incendiary attacks against the other side. This makes for good political rallies, not good policymaking. It slowly transforms the way we view the other side, until one day, our caricature of them is so warped by propaganda that we begin to see them not as neighbors with whom we may disagree, but as enemies to be destroyed.
If elected, I will always put my community and my country first. I will actively collaborate with all my colleagues, because good ideas are not partisan. In deciding how to vote on various issues, I will seek to understand how my constituents feel about the issue and what is best for them. Instead of one-sided political rallies, I will hold in-person and live online town halls with unscripted Q & A sessions — something many of our elected officials have forgotten how to do. If we truly want to address division, we have to fix the way we elect our representatives to ensure they are accountable to their constituents, not their parties or special interests. We should also provide voters with more choice so that, as Madison put it, there is “a greater probability of a fit choice.” We can do this by repealing closed primaries, introducing ranked choice voting, and ending the corrupting practice of partisan gerrymandering. Finally, we must implement term limits so that no elected representative could turn what should be a public service into a career.
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