Three vie for 194th seat

In­cum­bent DeLis­sio faces chal­lenge from Balt­sar, Stevens

The Review - - FRONT PAGE - By Corinna Vla­hoyian­nis

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.

Balt­sar

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.

DeLis­sio

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

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.

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