Three vie for 194th seat
Incumbent DeLissio faces challenge from Baltsar, Stevens
Incumbent state Rep. Pamela DeLissio, Democrat, is seeking her fifth term and faces two challengers: Sean Stevens, a Republican, and Matt Baltsar, a Libertarian, for the position of state representative for the 194th Legislative District.
This is the second time DeLissio and Stevens will face off. Last election, as a Democrat, Stevens lost to DeLissio in the 2016 Democratic primary race. Baltsar is a newcomer to the political scene.
The winner will be determined on Election Day, Nov. 6.
The 194th Legislative District covers the Lower Northwest Philadelphia neighborhoods of Roxborough, Manayunk, Wissahickon and East Falls and sections of Lower Merion Township in Montgomery County.
A self-described political outsider, Baltsar, the Libertarian candidate, said he believes if elected he would offer a new perspective to the legislature.
“I’ve been an IT consultant for 13 years. Two years ago, I refounded the Libertarian Party of Philadelphia after frustration with the 2016 election,” said Baltsar.
If elected, Baltsar said his first priority would be to work on implementing fair districts.
“The gerrymandering that divides our neighborhoods is absolutely absurd. Why does our district contain two different counties? Let’s put redistricting in the hands of an independent citizens commission,” said Baltsar.
He also said he wishes to enact property tax reform and end the prohibition of cannabis.
“As an independent, I would support good legislation regardless of party sponsorship,” said Blatsar.
Baltsar has ideas about altering the health care system as well.
“[I would allow Pennsylvanians to] purchase insurance from other states,” he said.
To amend the district’s development and traffic issues, Baltsar said he believes “infrastructure assessments need to be conducted and acted upon.”
“I want to see an end to the corruption and cronyism in Harrisburg. I want to reduce all forms of government burdens to encourage more people to live, work and start businesses in Pennsylvania,” said Baltsar.
“I want to be elected to create good government, not backroom deals and special favors,” he added.
Baltsar promised that if he were elected, he would serve one term then step aside. A critic of the “no term limit” policy for representatives, Baltsar said it is his goal to recruit the next generation of political leaders.
“I’d like voters to know that both of my opponents were registered Democrats as recently as last year. I am on the ballot to provide a truly different choice,” said Baltsar.
The Democrat incumbent, DeLissio is seeking her fifth term representing the 194th District.
Before being elected in 2010, DeLissio had a 28-year private sector career heading up two not-for-profit organizations and two forprofit companies. For the past eight years, she has served as a state representative.
“My deep private sector experience allows me to evaluate policy and legislation … keeping in mind the reality of the policy/legislation’s impact in the ‘real’ world,” said DeLissio.
Her first priority if reelected would be to re-introduce her single-payer legislation, she said.
“Health care should be affordable and available to everyone and not just the result
of an employer who may offer that benefit,” said DeLissio.
Additionally, DeLissio said she wishes to restructure education.
“The basic education funding formula established in June 2015 is a good formula but currently only applies to ‘new’ budget money; it needs to apply to all monies budgeted for basic education,” said DeLissio.
DeLissio touted her participation and attendance in the legislature.
“As my social media reflects, I am active in debate in [caucus meetings, voting committee meetings and most committee hearings],” added DeLissio. “I actively participate in both regional delegations of which I am a member. All of these occasions provide opportunities for my voice to be heard.”
Also, tackling issues of development and traffic in the area, DeLissio proposes passing Anti SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) legislation to help civic associations in their efforts to curb development. A SLAPP lawsuit is one that intends to silence critics by burdening them with the cost of legal defense with the hope they curtail their criticism.
She also said she wishes to continue to work with PennDOT to ensure safe
travel roads, as well as reintroducing her request that Harry Avenue be included in the pilot speed camera project that will take place on Roosevelt Boulevard.
DeLissio said she values speaking face-to-face with the people of the 194th.
“Ongoing dialogue with my constituents has always been a priority. … In addition to my newsletters and town halls, I have conducted policy pow-wows, which are intense discussions on controversial legislative proposals,” she said.
Stevens is no stranger to the political world, as he is embarking on his third run for the legislative seat in the 194th District. He ran for the 194th District representative position as a Democrat in 2014 until dropping out from the race and ran again in 2016 as a Democrat, only to be defeated by DeLissio in the primary. Stevens is now running as the Republican Party candidate for the 194th.
Currently, Stevens is a trial attorney whose practice now focuses on consumer credit defense.
In the past, he served as an Americorps volunteer and has experience working with communities to develop projects with youths. He also volunteered on a
charter school board, serving as the chairperson.
“The school was very successful,” said Stevens. “We had fully open board meetings, introduced competitive bidding, while making AYO.”
The board was responsible for building a state-ofthe-art facility for the students.
Stevens said he believes his background puts him in a great position to hold elected office.
“Those experiences will help to rebuild the sense of community in the 194th. When I am elected, the 194th will have an energetic representative fighting for them in Harrisburg,” said Stevens.
If elected, Stevens related that his first priority would be to introduce a mobile office. He described the purpose of such a change is “to reach all of our constituents and holding town hall meetings where issues actually impacting the community are discussed.”
Stevens’s other priorities would be jobs and public safety. Stevens said he would like to bring more jobs to the area.
“We need to lower the poverty rate in Philadelphia,” said Stevens. “One way to tackle that issue is to make Pennsylvania more amenable to businesses.”
In addressing public safety, Stevens asserted, “Our current DA continues to ignore victims and champions the rights of criminals. I will not be afraid to stand up and fight for our citizens to be safe on our streets and in their homes.”
Aware he would be one of the few Republicans in the legislature from Philadelphia, Stevens said, “I will work across the aisle,” saying that this would allow him to “instantly have more influence than the current representative. I will make sure that our district gets it fair share after years of neglect.”
On amending the current school system, Stevens said, “I will look for ways to have more state dollars go to funding an accountable and achieving public school system. I would like to see a magnet school for the Philadelphia side of our district.”
Stevens has ideas regarding health care reform as well. Stevens said he wishes to ensure all children have access to the Children’s Healthcare Insurance Program.
“When I am elected to Harrisburg, I will fight to ensure that we create jobs, have an education system that brings families to Philadelphia and protect the safety of our citizens,” said Stevens.