Haywood, Holt vie for state Senate seat
This year’s Pennsylvania Senate 4th District race is between incumbent Democrat Art Haywood and Republican Ron Holt.
Both candidates were emailed a questionnaire asking what in their background has helped prepare them for this office, why they are running for the office and where to get information about them and their candidacy.
They were also asked two policy questions:
What changes, if any, would you like to see to the current system of funding public schools primarily through property taxes? If property taxes are reduced or eliminated, how would you replace the funding?
What is your answer to the opioid epidemic? What measures would you support (Safe injection sites? More public funding for rehab or mental health services? Tougher laws
for dealers? etc.)?
“I have been a lawyer, advocating for victims of housing discrimination and for fair housing for 33 years. I believe we owe each other a community free from gun violence, a community where we pay a living wage and a community where we put compassion first to support our children and our most vulnerable,” Haywood said.
His five years as a Cheltenham Township commissioner and four years in the Pennsylvania Senate have taught him how to make the government work for people, he said.
“I was inspired to run for public office through the 2008 Obama campaign. I believed in the message of hope and felt encouraged to make a difference through
local government,” Haywood said.
“I am running for re-election to keep fighting for our families and communities in the 4th District and across the state,” he said. “In my first term, despite the Democrat super minority, we have started to see some success in passing legislation, including requiring lead testing in PA’s public schools, relocating domestic violence victims in public housing away from their abusers and bringing over $15 million to the 4th District.”
In response to the question about education funding, he said he thinks charter schools should be funded by the state, not local school districts.
“When school districts have to pay for charter schools, it places a huge burden on them, particularly in low-income areas. Similarly, I believe cyber-charter schools should be paid based upon online costs, not building costs,
which would more accurately and equitably fund students’ education based on actual costs,” Haywood said.
He said he thinks there should be property tax relief for senior citizens who can’t afford it, which could be paid for through a natural gas severance tax.
“Finally, the fair funding of PA’s public schools needs to be more equitably addressed. Currently, Pennsylvania has a fair funding formula, but it only affects about 7 percent of the total funding for public education. We must work to increase the amount of money that is included in the fair funding formula to better fund and support our local
schools,” Haywood said.
More rehab treatment is needed for those suffering from opioid addiction, he said.
“The drug companies need to pay. I fully support litigation against the pharmaceutical companies who pushed these drugs into our communities. I also support limiting prescribing of opioids,” Haywood said.
Information about Art Haywood’s campaign for the 4th District Senate seat is available at haywoodforsenate.com and on social media sites linked to the website.
Holt said he was a tax accountant for 20 years, a Pennsylvania Department of Revenue auditor for 17 years and is a former Montgomery County Register of Wills. He is also a former Temple University police officer, he said.
“The people of PA 4th Senate District need help,” Holt said.
The district includes part of Montgomery County and part of Philadelphia.
“The district is a family rich community with superior infrastructure and assets — great high schools, colleges and universities and medical facilities to name a few,” Holt said.
However, there are also parts of the district that are plagued with poverty and crime, he said.
“I can change that,” he said.
“Philadelphia is in a crisis,” Holt said.
That includes high poverty, more than 250 murders this year and $26 million of city money that was unaccounted for, he said.
“Our largest city deserves better,” Holt said.
Holt said he’d like to see Philadelphia have an elected school board with the schools, not the mayor, controlling the money.
He said he would look first at sales taxes as an alternative to property taxes but said there are other taxes that would be less of a burden on those with low income.
“The opioid problem is not new in low income areas. We ignored the problem too long,” Holt said, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics about the growth over the years of overdose deaths in the United States. In 2017, there were 72,000 recorded overdose deaths.
“I would go with a task force of experts to recommend a plan that will work,” Holt said.
Information about Ron Holt’s campaign for the 4th District Senate seat is available on the Ron Holt for PA State Senate Facebook page, in the Meet the Candidates section of montgomerycountygop.com and atrogop.org.
The Pennsylvania Senate 4th District includes Abington, Cheltenham, Jenkintown, Rockledge and Springfield in Montgomery County, along with portions of Philadelphia.