Ballotpedia is a website that provides information on elections and candidates. It’s a very helpful resources for folks looking to learn more about the candidates. I therefore submitted the candidate survey to be posted on Ballotpedia so that voters using the website can learn more about my write-in campaign and more about me and my priorities.
Please find the Ballotpedia survey questions and answers below:
Who are you? Tell us about yourself in 200 words or less. (1500 characters)
I am a community organizer, educator, mathematician and scientist. I’ve lived in this district for nearly a decade.
Please list below 3 key messages of your campaign. Key messages are your answer to the question of why people should vote for you. What are the main points you want voters to remember about you and your candidacy?
Healthcare is a human right, we need a single payer system like Medicare for All to protect that right for all A Green New Deal will rebuild our economy and communities with self-reliant renewable energy while we save the planet Let’s rethink Public Safety to include economic rights and restorative justice rather than punitive policing
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about? (1500 characters)
An economic bill of rights – recognizing and protecting human rights to healthy food and clean drinking water, housing, medicine, and education. Scientists tell us that we have less than a decade to make significant shifts in our economy to prevent the worst of the climate crisis from coming true, so I support a Green New Deal to quickly transition our economy to renewable energy and green infrastructure by 2030. We can build a strong economy that protects human economic rights as well as nature; we CAN have jobs & a health economy AND a healthy environment at the same time!
“Healthy Families, Healthy Economy, Healthy Planet”
What was your very first job? How long did you have it?
Out of college in 2011, I first worked as a college-level instructor – what’s known as an “adjunct”, because I was only assigned classes on a contractual basis and not hired full time. The pay was not great; I had computed once that the contract pay spread over the hours it took to prepare materials, teach in the classroom, then grade papers at home worked out to maybe $10-12 an hour, without any benefits. I had to teach at multiple institutions to pay the bills. I did that for a little over 3 years until I took a new job. I loved teaching itself, but it was very hard to teach so many classes at once for low pay. That experience has shown me how important a normal work week with living wage and benefits is; we need more unions to fight for good jobs for all!
What is the first historical event that happened in your lifetime that you remember? How old were you at the time?
Probably the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I was in high school at the time. An announcement went over the loudspeaker for teachers to report in, then a few minutes later, the principal announced they were turning on TVs in classrooms that had them so that everyone could see what was happening. As the TV came to life, I saw video of the WTC on fire. I didn’t really know much about politics or world affairs at that point, so it pushed me to learn more. Over time as I learned more, I became very concerned about the perpetual push for more war and the erosion of civil rights under expanding surveillance and policing. I support ending wars and US occupation overseas, as well as ending the surveillance and spying programs resulting from PATRIOT Act and other 9/11-related legislation.
Who do you look up to? Whose example would you like to follow, and why?
I don’t really look up to anyone in particular; I believe in charting my own path in life. But I do get inspiration from many thinkers and activists in history, including Martin Luther King Jr for his non-violent action for civil change, Murray Bookchin for thinking outside the box on how we can create a society that respects ecology and human rights with democracy, and many founders of the Green Party including Petra Kelly for her commitment to bringing peace and feminism to politics, and Howie Hawkins for his life-long work for independent working class politics.
What process do you favor for redistricting?
I support an independent redistricting commission made up of voters, not politicians or elected officials, representing ALL voters – meaning independents and third parties must be fairly represented, not just Democrats and Republicans. I don’t believe this commission is alone sufficient to address gerrymandering however; proportional representation with multi-winner districts is necessary to fully address gerrymandering and ensure voters are properly represented by who they choose, not who politicians choose for them. This also means ballot access laws must be revamped to be more fair and make it easier to run for office no matter your party affiliation.
Every state besides Nebraska has two legislative chambers. What do you consider the most important differences between the legislative chambers in your state?
I honestly don’t believe the state senate serves any helpful purpose in Pennsylvania; with a longer term of 4 years rather than 2, and larger districts that make it harder and more expensive to run, it really only has the effect of keeping current party leaders in power because of how difficult it is to challenge them. I would support abolishing the state senate, and moving the state house to a proportional representation system that better reflects the preferences of voters.
Do you believe that it’s beneficial for state legislators to have previous experience in government or politics?
Some knowledge and experience may be helpful, but it is more important that state legislators actually represent the people and understand the working class struggle. Those already in politics, especially since so many of them are lawyers without typical working class jobs, tend to be very out of touch. What use is it to elect representatives that don’t actually understand the issues or represent most people?
Do you believe it’s beneficial to build relationships with other legislators? Please explain your answer.
In general, we should seek compromise on implementation of programs and issues and build support from different perspectives. But I will not compromise on VALUES.
What do you perceive to be your state’s greatest challenges over the next decade?
Climate scientists tell us that we’ve got less than a decade to make clear changes to address climate change disaster. Western PA in particular already has some of the worst air quality in the nation. Our goal over the next decade must be to protect our air and water by banning fracking and transitioning away from fossil fuels to renewable energy and green industries via a Green New Deal. Society and civilization, not just in this region but worldwide, depends on us making these changes in PA.
What do you believe is the ideal relationship between the governor and the state legislature?
The governor as an executive position is too top-down and authoritarian; the governor should generally defer decisions to the state legislature and especially the people directly. We need to move to more direct democracy rather than letting the legislature or especially the governor make all the decisions themselves.
What do you believe are the core responsibilities for someone elected to this office?
In Pennsylvania, state legislators are paid a full time salary. I believe that means legislators should be working full time to represent the people and learn more about issues and what to do about it. That means meeting with constituents, holding town halls open to the public with Q&A and public feedback, and learning about the issues. But all too often, legislators are missing in action – we don’t see them at events, protests, rallies, and they rarely if ever hold town halls or other events to be sure they are communicating with the public. I pledge if elected to spend full time on meeting regular people, NOT corporate lobbyists, holding town halls, printing newsletters, and generally working to keep the public informed of what I’m doing and stay very responsive to their thoughts and interests.
What legacy would you like to leave?
To protect our health and our planet, I am trying to push for a Green New Deal. If I can at least get that started, that would be a victory and a legacy I’d be proud of. We must change our society’s attitude to put people and planet first over profits.
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