by Rep. Kristine Howard (D-167)
In the past two years, in our Commonwealth, we have made electoral strides to achieve a more progressive legislature that would better reflect our beliefs, beliefs that include decency, collaboration, standing against hate and bigotry, and giving voice to the majority of Pennsylvanians.
Now it is time for the next step.
We need a state legislature that reflects the majority views of our citizenry.
I want you to be among the first to know that I am running for re-election in the 167th Legislative District to help make that happen.
We need to elect a majority that works in Harrisburg
I ran for State Representative to make a difference, inspired like many other women to take action at a time when it felt like our country and our state were taking a hard turn to the right and extreme views were beginning to rule the day.
My decision to enter the race in 2018 was further cemented by my work through the years helping children and low-income families, culminating with two years serving as a child abuse investigator for Chester County.
It seemed reasonable to me to advocate for a Pennsylvania where our children are safe, healthy and well educated; our environment is clean, protected and sustainable; and our economy is fair, growing and accessible to all.
However, after winning the election and taking my seat, it didn’t take long to realize that being reasonable has nothing to do with it. What matters is having the majority.
The extremists are in charge
The Republican majorities in the state House and Senate seem to have a very different perspective than the more moderate Republican, Independent and Democratic voters I have come to know in my district and throughout Chester County.
I have witnessed the Republican majority in the State House consistently embrace extreme viewpoints. They vilify urban and more moderate suburban interests and ideas. They deny climate change science; oppose raising our minimum wage; favor an outright ban on abortions; fight against even the most reasonable restrictions on guns; support funding private charter schools at the expense of public education; side with oil and gas interests in all matters from taxing drillers to holding pipeline operators accountable; vote to eliminate the most basic programs underpinning our social safety net; block laws that would end discrimination against LGBTQ workers and more.
The process is broken
These extremists control the majority that sets the agenda in Harrisburg and dictates the legislative committee process, often contemptuously denying very reasonable legislative initiatives to even get a committee vote and the opportunity to make it to the floor for debate and consideration.
Although aided by the use of unprecedented gerrymandering that gave the extremists the controlling majorities in the Pennsylvania House and Senate, the overwhelming evidence suggests they do not represent the way a majority of Pennsylvanians think or want their legislature to act.
As it stands today, we have a broken legislature that does not work, let alone work together.
We can fix it
It doesn’t have to be this way. We have the power to elect a new majority, a working majority of like-minded thinkers that rejects extremism and seeks a consensus that better reflects the wants and interests of the majority of Pennsylvanians.
The 2018 elections put that goal in reach. The voters chose to flip eleven seats from Republican to Democratic in the State House and four in the State Senate, including a special election in 2019. That means we only need to win nine more House seats and three more Senate seats to change the majority in the state legislature.
The fight to win a working majority in the Pennsylvania House starts with re-electing the first-time Democratic legislators who won in 2018 and then working hard and smart to pick-up nine more seats in a presidential election year that has the potential to help make that goal absolutely achievable.
I am among the new law-makers elected in 2018. Now is not the time to set the clock back. We need to re-elect our freshmen legislators and hold on to our seasoned veterans in order to have a shot at a new majority that will work in Harrisburg.
I am running for re-election to help make that happen and hope that you will join me in the fight.