In­cum­bent Repub­li­can state rep­re­sen­ta­tives face Demo­cratic chal­lenges.

In­cum­bent Repub­li­can faces Demo­cratic chal­lenger

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - FRONT PAGE - By Dan Sokil dsokil@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Dan­sokil on Twit­ter

In­cum­bent Repub­li­can State Rep. Todd Stephens is be­ing chal­lenged by Demo­crat Sara John­son Roth­man to rep­re­sent the 151st District in the Penn­syl­va­nia House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

The 151st in­cludes all of Hor­sham and Mont­gomery town­ships and parts of Lower Gwynedd and Up­per Dublin town­ships.

Both can­di­dates were asked the same ques­tions, and below are their an­swers:

John­son Roth­man DE­SCRIBE YOUR BACK­GROUND, AND WHY YOU ARE RUN­NING.

I am run­ning for state rep­re­sen­ta­tive to change our po­lit­i­cal scene. In 2016 elec­tion, I sup­ported Hil­lary Clin­ton in the general elec­tion, but did not be­lieve that the best two can­di­dates were run­ning for the job. So I asked my­self how we got to this place.

Run­ning for of­fice is ex­haust­ing. Most peo­ple do not want their lives turned up­side down while be­ing at­tacked on so­cial me­dia with lies. There­fore, we get ca­reer politi­cians more in­ter­ested in mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in their own lives and their friends’ lives, rather than serv­ing their con­stituents at large. In or­der to take back our coun­try and com­mu­nity, this must change.

I have al­ways tried to do the right things for the right rea­sons. For over seven years, I served as a deputy district at­tor­ney where I spe­cial­ized in prose­cut­ing child abusers. Presently, I prac­tice ed­u­ca­tion law and serve as the vice pres­i­dent of the Up­per Dublin School Board. As the mother of two ele­men­tary school chil­dren, my pri­or­ity as a leg­is­la­tor will be im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for all kids in our com­mu­nity.

WHAT MAKES YOUR BACK­GROUND AND EX­PE­RI­ENCE DIF­FER­ENT FROM YOUR OP­PO­NENT?

With my ex­pe­ri­ence as a school di­rec­tor, I know that ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing is a big prob­lem. Penn­syl­va­nia ranks 47th in the na­tion for state fund­ing of pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, which means lo­cal school dis­tricts must rely heav­ily on prop­erty taxes for fund­ing. Al­though the state av­er­age for school district fund­ing is 37 per­cent of a district’s op­er­at­ing bud­get, the schools in North Penn, Hatboro-Hor­sham, Up­per Dublin, and Wis­sahickon all re­ceive less than 20 per­cent of their fund­ing from the state.

Un­for­tu­nately, our state leg­is­la­ture has not pri­or­i­tized in­vest­ment in our chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion. In­stead, through in­dif­fer­ence, in­ac­tion and un­der­funded/ un­funded man­dates, lo­cal prop­erty own­ers are left to shoul­der the bur­den of fi­nanc­ing pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion. Un­til our state ad­e­quately in­vests in our schools, lo­cal taxes will con­tinue to rise, home val­ues will suf­fer, and our kids will not en­joy the ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties that they de­serve.

WHICH MAIN IS­SUES HAVE BEEN RAISED THE MOST BY RES­I­DENTS? YOUR PO­SI­TION OR VIEWS ON THOSE?

Each area within the 151st Leg­isla­tive District has unique chal­lenges, but ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing and wa­ter qual­ity stand out as ur­gent con­cerns.

Every­one wants the best re­sources for their kids, but not every­one en­joys sub­si­diz­ing that goal through prop­erty taxes. The 151st District en­com­passes four school dis­tricts but none of the dis­tricts re­ceives the nec­es­sary fund­ing from Harrisburg to have a mean­ing­ful im­pact on lo­cal prop­erty tax­a­tion. Too many res­i­dents, and es­pe­cially our se­niors, strug­gle with a tax bur­den that state leg­is­la­tors have the power, but not the will, to fix. I will fight for com­pre­hen­sive tax re­form at the state level to ad­e­quately fund our schools, while af­ford­ing re­lief for prop­erty own­ers.

An is­sue that war­rants the ut­most at­ten­tion is the qual­ity of our con­stituents’ drink­ing wa­ter. As many peo­ple know, there is se­ri­ous con­cern about that our wa­ter has been con­tam­i­nated with chem­i­cals from the lo­cal mil­i­tary base. I will spon­sor leg­is­la­tion to limit per­flu­o­ri­nated com­pounds to non-de­tectable lev­els. I will also work with State and Fed­eral au­thor­i­ties to re­me­di­ate con­tam­i­nated soil for all of the af­fected com­mu­ni­ties and to hold the fed­eral govern­ment ac­count­able for the con­tam­i­na­tion.

HOW WOULD YOU HAN­DLE OR AD­DRESS THE STATE’S ON­GO­ING BUD­GET IS­SUES?

An on­go­ing is­sue is how Penn­syl­va­nia politi­cians spend our tax dol­lars, and whom they tax to gen­er­ate rev­enue.

Penn­syl­va­nia’s cur­rent tax laws are un­fair and re­gres­sive, dis­parately im­pact­ing low- and mod­er­ate-in­come fam­i­lies. We need com­pre­hen­sive tax re­form with­out touch­ing pen­sions and so­cial se­cu­rity ben­e­fits.

Cor­po­rate wel­fare has sky­rock­eted un­der Repub­li­can-con­trolled state leg­is­la­tures. I sup­port a fairer tax sys­tem which cuts taxes for the ma­jor­ity of tax­pay­ers, in­clud­ing those in the mid­dle class, while in­creas­ing taxes on the wealth­i­est Penn­syl­va­ni­ans. The av­er­age annual in­come for the top 1 per­cent in PA is $1.7 mil­lion. By tax­ing such in­come such as gains de­rived from es­tates and trusts, net prof­its, div­i­dends, and roy­al­ties, we can in­ject fair­ness into the sys­tem. To be clear, this plan does not call for tax­ing so­cial se­cu­rity or pen­sions. The Penn­syl­va­nia Bud­get and Pol­icy Cen­ter cal­cu­lates that this type of leg­is­la­tion would add up to $2 bil­lion in new rev­enues for the Com­mon­wealth an­nu­ally and cut nearly $600 mil­lion in taxes for ev­ery­day peo­ple.

DO YOU SEE THE NA­TIONAL PO­LIT­I­CAL CLI­MATE IM­PACT­ING YOUR LO­CAL RACE? IF SO, WHY OR WHY NOT?

Yes, I see the na­tional po­lit­i­cal cli­mate im­pact­ing lo­cal races. Rights such as re­pro­duc­tive free­doms, a healthy en­vi­ron­ment, pro­tect­ing our chil­dren from gun vi­o­lence, and strong pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion are be­ing eroded by the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion in Wash­ing­ton. The peo­ple of our district have come to re­al­ize that the leg­is­la­ture in Harrisburg can en­act laws to safe­guard our rights and mit­i­gate the ad­verse af­fects of the Trump pres­i­dency.

I also see the na­tional po­lit­i­cal cli­mate im­pact­ing lo­cal races. I have had many con­ver­sa­tions within the com­mu­nity about global warm­ing, im­mi­gra­tion and lo­cal jobs im­pacted by in­ter­na­tional tar­iffs. Res­i­dents un­der­stand how na­tional and even in­ter­na­tional events af­fect their lives right here in Mont­gomery County.

Stephens DE­SCRIBE YOUR BACK­GROUND, AND WHY YOU ARE RUN­NING (AGAIN).

Prior to serv­ing as state rep­re­sen­ta­tive, I served as a pros­e­cu­tor in the Mont­gomery County District At­tor­ney’s Of­fice and the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice in Philadel­phia. In the 10 years I served as a pros­e­cu­tor, I am proud to say that I had a 99 per­cent con­vic­tion rate with 1,500 con­vic­tions and 18 homi­cide con­vic­tions. I’ve used this ex­pe­ri­ence to pro­tect and sup­port chil­dren, crime vic­tims, fight gun vi­o­lence, and com­bat the opi­oid epi­demic.

I grew up here and am rais­ing my chil­dren here. I’m run­ning to make a dif­fer­ence for our com­mu­nity — that’s why I’ve fought to strengthen ed­u­ca­tion, en­sure our wa­ter is clean and safe, and pro­tect our fam­i­lies with im­por­tant new child pro­tec­tion bills and ground-break­ing leg­is­la­tion to re­duce gun vi­o­lence.

WHAT MAKES YOUR BACK­GROUND AND EX­PE­RI­ENCE DIF­FER­ENT FROM YOUR OP­PO­NENT?

Ex­pe­ri­ence. My back­ground in this race is un­matched. As a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive I’ve con­sis­tently de­liv­ered re­sults for our com­mu­nity. While some may prom­ise to strengthen ed­u­ca­tion, pro­tect our wa­ter and stop­ping gun vi­o­lence, I’ve not only done those things, but I have led the ef­forts to ac­com­plish them. As a lo­cal and in­de­pen­dent leg­is­la­tor, I’ve made the res­i­dents of the 151st district my first and only pri­or­ity. I re­ject par­ti­san pol­i­tics, and I work on both sides of the aisle to get things done. It is about putting peo­ple be­fore pol­i­tics, and I have a record of do­ing just that.

WHICH MAIN IS­SUES HAVE BEEN RAISED THE MOST BY RES­I­DENTS? YOUR PO­SI­TION OR VIEWS ON THOSE?

Ed­u­ca­tion Fund­ing: I’m happy to say that we’ve pro­vided the most ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing in state his­tory, $11.86 bil­lion, and this year, we ex­panded school safety grants by $60 mil­lion. And we ac­com­plished this with­out rais­ing in­come or sales taxes. That’s why our lo­cal teach­ers and PSEA have backed my re-elec­tion.

Gun Vi­o­lence: I led the suc­cess­ful, re­cent ef­fort to pass leg­is­la­tion dis­arm­ing do­mes­tic abusers. I’ve also closed loop­holes on back­ground checks and en­sured men­tal health records are be­ing re­ported to NICS — the na­tional back­ground check data­base. Be­cause of my ef­forts more than 700,000 peo­ple dis­qual­i­fied from buy­ing a gun in Penn­syl­va­nia are now in the na­tional back­ground check data­base as well. Be­cause of my ef­forts, I’m proud to have earned the sup­port of law en­force­ment, Cease­Fire Penn­syl­va­nia and for­mer Demo­cratic Con­gress­woman Gabby Gif­ford’s or­ga­ni­za­tion for my work on the is­sue.

Wa­ter Con­tam­i­na­tion: I was the first elected of­fi­cial to call for a zero tol­er­ance pol­icy re­gard­ing PFAS chem­i­cals. Gover­nor Wolf and I worked to­gether to de­liver $10 mil­lion to cor­rect the is­sue in Hor­sham, and I re­cently au­thored leg­is­la­tion that passed the House to elim­i­nate the clean wa­ter sur­charge and fund clean wa­ter projects in our re­gion.

HOW WOULD YOU HAN­DLE OR AD­DRESS THE STATE’S ON­GO­ING BUD­GET IS­SUES?

I’m proud to say we’ve passed bal­anced state bud­gets ev­ery year with­out rais­ing our sales or per­sonal in­come taxes, and we’ve kept govern­ment spend­ing be­neath the rate of in­fla­tion. We did this while in­vest­ing record amounts into pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, ex­pand­ing ac­cess to early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion, in­creas­ing fund­ing for ser­vices for those with in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties and di­rect­ing bil­lions of new dol­lars into trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture. We also passed his­toric pen­sion re­forms that were sup­ported by Gover­nor Wolf and will save tax­pay­ers bil­lions of dol­lars.

DO YOU SEE THE NA­TIONAL PO­LIT­I­CAL CLI­MATE IM­PACT­ING YOUR LO­CAL RACE? IF SO, WHY OR WHY NOT?

I’ve knocked on thou­sands of doors and, sadly, there is a clear di­vide in our coun­try on many na­tional is­sues. For­tu­nately, my con­stituents are well-ed­u­cated and well-in­formed. The res­i­dents in the 151st State House District know the dif­fer­ence be­tween fed­eral and state elec­tions, and they know me.

I have a strong, proven record of serv­ing res­i­dents as an in­de­pen­dent and ef­fec­tive leg­is­la­tor. Whether help­ing con­stituents cut through the bu­reau­cratic red tape in Harrisburg or work­ing across the aisle to de­liver leg­isla­tive suc­cesses, my con­stituents know I’m some­one they can count on to get things done and de­liver re­sults.

Rep. Todd Stephens

Sara John­son Roth­man

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.