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The most important task for all levels of government is ending the pandemic. That means following basic public health recommendations such as mask wearing and vaccine mandates. Unfortunately, Republicans in Harrisburg are too busy trying to appease their right-wing base by defying basic public health guidelines. This is unacceptable. We must follow science and together do what is necessary to end the pandemic.
Once the pandemic has ended, we must turn our attention to the recovery. Center City has been devastated by the pandemic, with much retail space in the downtown business core sitting vacant. We need a massive amount of public investment to recover from the pandemic recession, including resources from the state government. We must also ensure that the recovery is a just recovery with resources spread equitably among all Philadelphians.
We also must recognize that the pandemic disproportionately impacted already marginalized communities. A just recovery means reducing the number of people in poverty, funding public schools, and putting real resources in neighborhoods ravaged by gun violence. It means healthcare for all, including full access to reproductive care. It means the right to form a union at your workplace and for LGBTQ+ workers to be protected by state law from discrimination on the job. A just recovery not only restarts the economy, but also seeks to address the structural inequities that existed before the pandemic.
Republicans in Harrisburg are working to undermine our democracy. They are working with Donald Trump to deny the legitimacy of President Joe Biden’s victory. They are also making it harder for people to vote by implementing so-called “Voter ID” as well as repealing popular measures such as vote-by-mail. I pledge to resist these attacks on our democracy as well as confront other forms of authoritarianism in state government.
Public safety starts with investments in our communities, like good-paying jobs, a clean environment, affordable healthcare including mental health services, and safe streets. Our current criminal justice system criminalizes poverty and disproportionately impact communities of color. That’s why I will fight for public safety initiatives that will help keep our communities safe while reducing the impacts of racialized mass incarceration, mental health stigmatization, and the legacy of the war on drugs.
With unprecedented job losses in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, workers’ rights are under attack. I believe that a strong labor movement is the backbone of a robust and equitable economy. As the son of a teacher and member of PSEA; I have seen first-hand what a difference a union can make in the lives of families.The labor movement is a foundational pillar in the movement for economic, racial, and social justice. Unions ensure benefits, a safe workplace, fair pay, and a voice for workers. I believe unions are essential for a just economy and that every worker should be given a living wage and the right to form a union.
We are in the midst of a climate crisis that will soon evolve into a climate catastrophe. I believe we need a Green New Deal for Pennsylvania that will deliver well-paying, sustainable, union jobs to build essential green infrastructure across the commonwealth. Pennsylvania’s future cannot be dependent on fossil fuels. In Harrisburg, I will never approve of any new funding or subsidies for fossil-fuel infrastructure, and will fight to end fracking and transfer those workers to well-paying green infrastructure jobs.
Healthcare is a human right, and the state has the responsibility to provide care to the children, elderly, and people with disabilities in our communities. Covid has made it clear that we not only need a single-payer system for our commonwealth, but that we also need to pursue more immediate solutions to address the 650,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians by expanding Medicare and Medicaid, and funding CHIP. Thousands of Pennsylvanians struggle to pay for their prescription medicines; that’s why I am committed to finding Pennsylvania-based solutions to skyrocketing drug costs. There are too many gaps in healthcare access between income levels and geography. Where you live and how much you make should not determine your access to care; that’s why I will fight to increase funding for community health centers across the state.
Reproductive justice is a human right and I will fight unequivocally in Harrisburg to protect the rights of people to have safe and unrestricted access to abortions, contraception, sex education, STI prevention and treatment, prenatal and pregnancy care, and to provide assistance to those impacted by domestic violence. Access to reproductive health and better health outcomes are often out of reach for the most marginalized among us, I will fight to ensure that we not only have access to reproductive health across the state, but that those resources are equitably distributed so that we do not further entrench the systems of oppression that manifest themselves as poor health outcomes in queer communities and communities of color.
Education is the backbone of a well-functioning society and economic opportunity. However, children and adults across our Commonwealth don’t have access to affordable, high-quality education at all levels. The quality of a child’s education is almost entirely dependent on zip code, and Philadelphia schools– which serve a high proportion of students of color–have been literally left in the cold as our schools’ infrastructures crumble around them. I’ll fight for equitable school funding in Harrisburg so that every child in Pennsylvania gets the education they deserve. As our public schools fall into disrepair, our elected officials are happy to pass the buck onto private entities who are not accountable to our communities, that’s why I support a moratorium on new charter schools and support legislation to hold all schools to the same standards. As a Pell grant recipient, I know just how important public investment into higher education is. However, soaring tuition costs make a college education increasingly inaccessible for Pennsylvanians; that’s why I will fight to increase funding for our community colleges so that everyone can get the education they deserve.
Housing is a fundamental human right, but too many Pennsylvanians find themselves unable to afford rising housing costs and end up having to close their businesses, leave their communities, or end up on the street. No tenant should live in fear of unreasonable rent hikes and evictions, and we must do all we can to keep longtime residents and small homeowners in their homes. That’s why I’ve placed affordable housing at the center of my campaign and my legislative agenda. For too long, real estate developers across the Commonwealth have seen record profits while working people and our elders struggle to stay in their homes. I will fight to change Pennsylvania’s taxation and land use system so cities like Philadelphia can make wealthy institutions pay their fair share and fund affordable housing. I’ll go to Harrisburg to fight for the millions of Pennsylvanians who rent, pushing for legislation that stabilizes rent and protects renters from unfair evictions.
I will fight for increased funding for our infrastructure and for projects that put us on the path to decrease our state’s carbon emissions such as green mass transit. Without a robust mass transit system, working people in Philadelphia and across the state are left behind. That’s why I’ll fight for mass transit and towards a green future in Harrisburg.
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