House District 81

House District 81

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VOTE BY TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3RD

The Pennsylvania Progressive Voters Guide compiles the information that allows you to make informed decisions about the races on your ballot, based on your values. Mail-in Ballots must be RECEIVED by your county election office by Tuesday, November 3rd at 8:00 PM -- postmarks are not enough. REMINDER: Pennsylvania voters must use both envelopes when sending in their mail-in ballot. Place your ballot in the smaller Official Election Envelope, seal it, and then place it in your larger Ballot-Return Envelope. Don't forget to sign and date that!

Federal

President and Vice President

  • Democrat
  • Joseph R. Biden, Jr. is the Democratic candidate for President of the United States. He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Biden has a long career in public service, most notably serving as Vice President alongside President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2016. Prior to that role, Biden served six consecutive terms in the U.S. Senate from 1973 to 2009. Biden is also the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom with distinction, which only three others have received. In 1972, two weeks after his election to his first term in the Senate, his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident. In 2013, Biden also lost his eldest son to brain cancer.

    Joe Biden speaks frequently about tragedy and loss as a way to communicate that he understands the hardships everyday Americans face, particularly when it comes to dealing with the health care system. One of his signature accomplishments was getting the Affordable Care Act passed, which helped expand health insurance for millions of Americans and guaranteed no one could be discriminated against for having a preexisting condition. Biden believes in building on the success of the Affordable Care Act - and has advocated for adding a public option, with the goal of universal coverage for all Americans, regardless of income.

    Biden also came into office as Vice President during the depths of the Great Recession. He played a key role in planning the recovery effort, which pulled the American economy back from the brink and led to more than a decade of job growth. Biden’s decades of experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee also informed his more recent accomplishments on the world stage, including helping the U.S. join the Paris Climate Agreement, securing the Iran Nuclear Deal, and building international alliances.

    Biden has received his fair share of criticism. He sponsored the 1994 crime bill, which is blamed for accelerating mass incarceration rates of Black and Brown Americans. Biden also supported the Hyde amendment, a provision barring the use of federal funds for abortion. In both cases, Biden’s views evolved. In the past few years, he’s repudiated the crime bill and supported legislation to end the death penalty and reverse mass incarceration. Biden has also pledged to eliminate the Hyde amendment as part of his larger platform of expanding health care to all Americans. 

    Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden’s platform was already progressive. When it was clear he was going to win the primary, Biden pulled together top progressive leaders from across the political spectrum, from Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to John Kerry and Eric Holder. These committees were tasked with building a platform to address the greatest challenges of our time, including health care, criminal justice reform, and climate change.

    Biden believes economic recovery cannot occur until the pandemic is under control, which he believes requires federal support for testing, distributing protective equipment, and providing federal aid to states and the unemployed. To kickstart the economy, Biden proposes mobilizing manufacturing, infrastructure spending, clean energy projects, funding and training for caregivers and educators, and fighting systemic racism through targeted investment.

    At George Floyd’s funeral, Biden called on Congress to pass the House’s wide-ranging police reform bill, written in the wake of the ongoing, historic civil rights marches demanding racial justice all around the country. Joe Biden is also committed to passing the bill named in honor of John Lewis to enshrine the sacred right to vote. Finally, Biden supports the end of the Senate filibuster in order to pass progressive legislation and end decades of Republican obstruction to pass laws that enjoy broad support among Americans, including universal background checks for firearms.

    Joe Biden has chosen Kamala Harris as his running mate and Vice Presidential candidate. Harris is the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants. Her background is in law. She served as the San Francisco District Attorney from 2004 to 2011 and Attorney General of California from 2011 to 2016. She has represented the state of California in the U.S. Senate since 2017. Harris is well known for confronting Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings over Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford’s serious allegations of sexual assault against him. Harris’ views are progressive; especially on health care. She has co-sponsored bills and pledged to expand Medicare to cover all Americans.

    Joe Biden is running against Republican incumbent Donald J. Trump. Trump has tried repeatedly to take away the rights of immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, women, and tribes. He’s separated families at the border and put children in cages. He’s a staunch opponent of action on climate change, and repeatedly ignored experts on the severity of the growing crisis. Trump cheered GOP legislation like the 2017 tax bill, which burdened families and rewarded the rich and supported GOP efforts to roll back the Affordable Care Act and the protections it provides for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

    Trump’s presidency has been characterized by unprecedented levels of corruption and his failure to lead during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left tens of thousands of Americans dead and an economy in shambles. Trump even admitted on tape that he knew about the severity of the virus as early as February and deliberately withheld that information from the public. Trump is only the third president ever to be impeached by Congress. There are active criminal investigations against his businesses and his family. Openly, Trump seeks to undermine the bedrock principles of democracy by obstructing justice, attacking peaceful protesters, and using the powers of his office to prevent Americans from voting.

    Joe Biden is the progressive choice in the race for president.

    Joe Biden

    Joseph R. Biden, Jr. is the Democratic candidate for President of the United States. He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Biden has a long career in public service, most notably serving as Vice President alongside President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2016.

  • Endorsed By: Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Brady Campaign, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, End Citizens United, Everytown for Gun Safety, Human Rights Campaign, Indivisible, Jewish Democratic Council of America, J Street, League of Conservation Voters, MoveOn, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, Stonewall Democrats, Voto Latino, President Obama, Governor Tom Wolf, Senator Bob Casey, Rep. Brendan Boyle, Rep. Mat Cartwright, Rep. Madeleine Dean, Rep. Dwight Evans, Rep. Conor Lamb, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, Scranton Mayor Paige Cognetti, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), American Postal Workers Union, Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), Cement Masons, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), Communications Workers of America (CWA), Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, Labor Leader, Dolores Huerta, Labor Leader, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers (IW), IAM International, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), International Longshore and Warehouse Union 13, International Longshore and Warehouse Union 63, International Longshore and Warehouse Union 94, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), Longshorman Internatitonal, National Education Association, National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), Scranton Federation of Teachers, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Service Employees International United National Association of Government Employees, Transportation Trades Department (TTD), United Farm Workers, United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW), United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, United Steelworkers (USW), Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA)
  • Kamala Harris is the Democratic candidate for Vice President of the United States. She was born in Oakland, California to immigrant parents. Her mother was a cancer researcher from India and her father is an economist from Jamaica. Senator Harris is the first Black woman and South Asian American woman to be nominated for Vice President of the United States by a major party.

    Harris went to  public schools, attended Howard University for college, and returned to San Francisco for law school. She  began her law career in 1990 working in the Alameda County District Attorney's Office specializing in advocating for child victims of sexual assault. She then moved to the Deputy District Attorney’s office prosecuting criminal cases. 

    In 2003, she was the first woman to be elected District Attorney in San Francisco’s history. Harris fought against racial profiling as a driver of mass incarceration. She championed re-entry programs for youth offenders. As Attorney General, Harris also championed the Open Justice program, which provided public access to crime statistics, including use of force incidents by the police. She also expressed interest in redirecting police funds to social programs. Overall, prison incarceration rates in California dropped significantly during her six years as Attorney General. 

    In 2016, Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate. She captured national attention right away for her questioning of U.S. Attorney General candidate Jeff Sessions on issues related to foreign interference in the 2016 election. In 2018, Harris again captivated the nation in her questioning of Brett Kavanaugh, who was under scrutiny for sexual assault and political corruption. Her voting record in the Senate is progressive. She repeatedly co-sponsored bills to protect human rights. She also voted against the confirmation of the majority of the Trump Administration’s extreme rightwing candidates for office. Harris also spoke out passionately against Republican efforts to block evidence from being considered in President Trump’s trial and ultimately voted to impeach him. She also spoke out passionately against the 2017 GOP Tax Bill, a massive tax giveaway to the richest one percent of Americans. 

    Kamala Harris’s opponent is Vice President Mike Pence. After finishing law school, Pence jumped into politics with two unsuccessful runs for Congress. His loss in 1990 is partially attributed to his embezzlement of campaign funds, which was not illegal at the time. He then built his career as a rightwing radio and television personality in Indiana. A decade later, he finally won an election for Congress and built a record as an enemy of reproductive rights, sensible firearm regulations, social programs for impoverished Americans, and protections for LGBTQ+ citizens. He was elected governor of Indiana in 2013. He refused federal funding for pre-Kindergarten programs, which earned him significant criticism. Pence then used his office to legalize discrimination against  LGBTQ+ citizens. His bigotry and lack of leadership were so severe that Pence allowed one of the worst HIV outbreaks in the country to happen in Indiana under his watch.

    In 2016, Presidential candidate Donald Trump chose Pence as his running mate. Trump chose Pence on the recommendation of Paul Manafort, who now serves jail time for lying to the FBI about his relationship between Russian military intelligence and the Trump campaign. Even though Pence serves as President of the Senate, he’s been completely absent in desperately needed negotiations over a second round of economic relief during the pandemic. He has supported Republicans in their near unanimous vote against full extended unemployment insurance, stimulus checks, support for health care systems, protective gear and testing for frontline workers, mail-in election funding, funding for state budget shortages to prevent layoffs, and new small business loans.

    Kamala Harris is the most progressive choice in this race.

     

    Kamala Harris

    Kamala Harris is the Democratic candidate for Vice President of the United States. She was born in Oakland, California to immigrant parents. Her mother was a cancer researcher from India and her father is an economist from Jamaica.

Congress, 12th Congressional District

U.S. Representative

  • Democrat
  • Lee Griffin is the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district. Griffin grew up the son of two public school teachers in a house his father built. Like his family before him, he was deeply committed to the beautiful landscape and culture in Pennsylvania, first as an Eagle Scout and then as an honors student. After college, he gained experience in business and logistics and then taught English in Taiwan.

    Griffin’s roots in rural Pennsylvania and his experiences abroad have shaped his priorities, particularly in championing affordable health care and fighting the climate crisis. Even before the pandemic, many of his neighbors lacked health care coverage and were forced to ration life saving drugs like insulin. Griffin believes it’s going to take all parts of society to band together to address the threat of climate change. Recently, Griffin was moved to support the protests of the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arber. Griffin has also championed the recent Supreme Court Decision to protect LGBTQ+ workers and has given his unequivocal support to protect his fellow citizens’ rights.

    Griffin is running to unseat Republican Fred Keller, who has held the seat since 2018. Keller’s voting record and public statements echo his Republican leaders in Washington. Griffin voted against the new police reform bill, even though it has broad public support. When Keller was a state representative, he voted to take away food stamps and Medicaid from his neighbors. In the middle of a pandemic, Fred Keller joined Republicans in their near unanimous vote against full extended unemployment insurance, stimulus checks, support for health care systems, protective gear and testing for frontline workers, mail-in election funding, funding for state budget shortages to prevent layoffs, and new small business loans.

    Lee Griffin is the clear progressive choice in this race.

    Lee Griffin

    Lee Griffin is the Democratic candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district. Griffin grew up the son of two public school teachers in a house his father built.

Statewide Races

Auditor General

  • Democrat
  • Nina Ahmad is the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Auditor General. Ahmad is a Bangladeshi immigrant who came to the U.S. to earn a PhD in Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. She married and stayed in the U.S. to raise a family and start a small business as a molecular biologist. She served with many nonprofits and advocacy groups and most recently as Deputy Mayor for Public Engagement under Mayor Kenney. If elected, she would be the first woman of color to hold the Auditor General position in Pennsylvania’s history. 

    Ahmad’s platform is advocating for transparency and promoting the public good. She positions herself as the chief fiscal watchdog, who will use facts and data to ensure responsible governance. She is outspoken in her support for minority communities and for the historic marches for civil rights that have captivated the nation this year. 

    Ahmad is facing three opponents in the general election: Timothy DeFoor, a Republican; Olivia Faison of the Green Party; and Jennifer Moore, a libertarian. DeFoor has also worked in government watchdog roles in the PA Attorney General’s office and the Dauphin County controller. He has no published platform except for allying himself closely with the police. Faison has very little campaign presence beyond a Facebook page with no information about the candidate or her views. Moore is the auditor in the Upper Province of Montgomery County. She has very little campaign presence except for an entry on a libertarian party page with vague claims of independence. 

    Nina Ahmad is the clear progressive choice in this race.

     

    Nina Ahmad

    Nina Ahmad is the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Auditor General. Ahmad is a Bangladeshi immigrant who came to the U.S. to earn a PhD in Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. She married and stayed in the U.S. to raise a family and start a small business as a molecular biologist. She served with many nonprofits and advocacy groups and most recently as Deputy Mayor for Public Engagement under Mayor Kenney. If elected, she would be the first woman of color to hold the Auditor General position in Pennsylvania’s history. 

    Ahmad’s platform is advocating for transparency and promoting the public good. She positions herself as the chief fiscal watchdog, who will use facts and data to ensure responsible governance. She is outspoken in her support for minority communities and for the historic marches for civil rights that have captivated the nation this year. 

    Ahmad is facing three opponents in the general election: Timothy DeFoor, a Republican; Olivia Faison of the Green Party; and Jennifer Moore, a libertarian. DeFoor has also worked in government watchdog roles in the PA Attorney General’s office and the Dauphin County controller. He has no published platform except for allying himself closely with the police. Faison has very little campaign presence beyond a Facebook page with no information about the candidate or her views. Moore is the auditor in the Upper Province of Montgomery County. She has very little campaign presence except for an entry on a libertarian party page with vague claims of independence. 

    Nina Ahmad is the clear progressive choice in this race.

     

Attorney General

  • Josh Shapiro is the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Attorney General. Shapiro spent the first part of his career working as advisors for U.S. Senators and leaders in Congress. He worked with U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Robert Torricelli and Congressmen Peter Deutsch and Joe Hoeffel. Shapiro also served in the Pennsylvania State House from 2005 to 2011 and as Montgomery County Commissioner from 2011 to 2017. He was elected Attorney General in 2017.

    Shapiro’s top priorities are protecting seniors, veterans, and small businesses from scams, fighting the opioid epidemic and treating those suffering from addiction, and ensuring faith and integrity in the justice system. More recently, Shapiro has been focused on police misconduct and violence. He’s formed a coalition of officials to build a statewide police employee registry to ensure all citizens are protected from police brutality and racism. 

    Shapiro is facing three opponents in the general election: Heather Heidelbaugh, a Republican; Richard Weiss from the Green Party, and Daniel Wassmer, a libertarian. Heidelbaugh, who is from Missouri, sat on the Allegheny Council. She prides herself in cutting social programs. Weiss has no published campaign platform. Wassmer has no campaign presence. 

    Josh Shapiro is the clear progressive choice in this race.

     

    Josh Shapiro

    Josh Shapiro is the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Attorney General. Shapiro spent the first part of his career working as advisors for U.S. Senators and leaders in Congress. He worked with U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Robert Torricelli and Congressmen Peter Deutsch and Joe Hoeffel. Shapiro also served in the Pennsylvania State House from 2005 to 2011 and as Montgomery County Commissioner from 2011 to 2017. He was elected Attorney General in 2017.

    Shapiro’s top priorities are protecting seniors, veterans, and small businesses from scams, fighting the opioid epidemic and treating those suffering from addiction, and ensuring faith and integrity in the justice system. More recently, Shapiro has been focused on police misconduct and violence. He’s formed a coalition of officials to build a statewide police employee registry to ensure all citizens are protected from police brutality and racism. 

    Shapiro is facing three opponents in the general election: Heather Heidelbaugh, a Republican; Richard Weiss from the Green Party, and Daniel Wassmer, a libertarian. Heidelbaugh, who is from Missouri, sat on the Allegheny Council. She prides herself in cutting social programs. Weiss has no published campaign platform. Wassmer has no campaign presence. 

    Josh Shapiro is the clear progressive choice in this race.

     

Treasurer

  • Joseph Torsella is the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Treasurer. Torsella is from Berwick and graduated from University of Pennsylvania. He subsequently studied history at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. In the 1990s, Torsella served as deputy mayor for planning and policy under Mayor Ed Rendell. He also served as chair of the Pennsylvania Board of Education. From 2011 to 2014, Torsella served as the U.S. Representative to the United Nations. He has served as Pennsylvania Treasurer since 2017. 

    Torsella’s platform is a commitment to transparency and integrity, helping low and middle income families, and producing proven results for taxpayers. Torsella prides himself on making government spending as transparent as possible, and believes all citizens should be auditors. He is also committed to fighting inequality and helping families improve financial literacy. Torsella plans to create universal college savings and individual retirement accounts to help bridge the income gap. 

    Torsella is facing three opponents in the general election: Stacy Garrity, a Republican; Timothy Runkle, from the Green Party, and Joseph Soloski, a libertarian. Garrity is an accountant and former Army reservist. She is running for political office on the platform of not being a politician. Runkle has no significant, public campaign platform. Soloski is an accountant who wants to eliminate taxes for the very wealthy and large corporations. 

    Joseph Torsella is the clear progressive choice in this race.

     

    Joseph Torsella

    Joseph Torsella is the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Treasurer. Torsella is from Berwick and graduated from University of Pennsylvania. He subsequently studied history at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. In the 1990s, Torsella served as deputy mayor for planning and policy under Mayor Ed Rendell. He also served as chair of the Pennsylvania Board of Education. From 2011 to 2014, Torsella served as the U.S. Representative to the United Nations. He has served as Pennsylvania Treasurer since 2017. 

    Torsella’s platform is a commitment to transparency and integrity, helping low and middle income families, and producing proven results for taxpayers. Torsella prides himself on making government spending as transparent as possible, and believes all citizens should be auditors. He is also committed to fighting inequality and helping families improve financial literacy. Torsella plans to create universal college savings and individual retirement accounts to help bridge the income gap. 

    Torsella is facing three opponents in the general election: Stacy Garrity, a Republican; Timothy Runkle, from the Green Party, and Joseph Soloski, a libertarian. Garrity is an accountant and former Army reservist. She is running for political office on the platform of not being a politician. Runkle has no significant, public campaign platform. Soloski is an accountant who wants to eliminate taxes for the very wealthy and large corporations. 

    Joseph Torsella is the clear progressive choice in this race.

     

House District 81

State Representative

  • Democrat
  • Ian Kidd is the Democratic candidate for the Pennsylvania State House seat in the 81st legislative district. Kidd is a second generation public educator and the child of a veteran and union leader.

    Kidd says he is running to give a voice to all the everyday people who have been forgotten by their representatives in Harrisburg, regardless of party affiliation. He supports LGBTQ+ rights and the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Ian Kidd is facing Republican incumbent Rich Irvin, who has held the seat since 2015. Irvin voted against a bill amendment that would have become the state’s first piece of legislation granting legal protections based on gender identity, sexual orientation. He has voted for harsher penalties and mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug-related offenses. Irvin also has voted repeatedly in the interests of the fossil fuel industry and to the detriment of the environment, including voting to repeal restrictions on oil and gas drilling. In the middle of a pandemic, Rich Irvin joined Republicans in their near unanimous vote against providing protective gear, testing, hazard pay, family leave, and preserving disaster declarations put in place to protect Pennsylvanians.

    Ian Kidd is the clear progressive choice in this race.

    Ian Kidd

    Ian Kidd is the Democratic candidate for the Pennsylvania State House seat in the 81st legislative district. Kidd is a second generation public educator and the child of a veteran and union leader.

  • Endorsed By: PA AFL-CIO