I was born and raised here in Allegheny County, in a working, middle-class family, with grandfathers who worked in the steel mills and coal mines. My Nonna ran the local post office in Indianola. My parents worked hard to provide a good life for me and my brother but I’ve seen over the past decades how that good life has become less and less accessible to working families in this community– I’m running for Congress to fix that.
Our government should be “of the people and for the people” – but for too long it’s been made up of and catered to the super wealthy, while everyday Pennsylvanians are left further and further behind. Whether it’s stagnant wages while corporate profits skyrocket, the broken campaign finance system, or the many problems that became even more apparent during the pandemic, our government needs to be there for ALL of us – not just the privileged few.
Government should look like the people it is meant to represent – working families– not the super wealthy who make up a majority of Congress. We need to make sure the wealthiest among us pay their fair share and don’t further game the system – and that is why we need more authentic working and middle class voices like mine in Congress. If you can’t feel the effects of high prices on food, gas, groceries, and healthcare – why would you act with the urgency we need? We need a government to work hard for good-paying union jobs in America and grow the middle class – and as the only non-millionaire in this race, I will make sure that happens.
In Congress, I’ll be a pragmatic progressive voice, fighting for relief for working families like mine, helping grow our local economy, creating jobs for the 21st century, addressing our changing climate, and ensuring everyone is equal under the law. I will put the people of Western PA first and bring the needed voice of someone who is not a millionaire and will fight for his community and against the right-wing extremism that is stopping many of the common-sense solutions I’ve outlined below.
Fighting right-wing extremism at home is something I’ve done here in Western PA and nationally and will continue to do while in Congress. We need Democrats who aren’t afraid to fight to save our democracy from Republican extremism and call them out as they try to warp history and dismiss elections they lost. Anti-democratic forces are on the march across the world, most recently seen in the invasion of the Ukraine by Putin’s Russia; but attempts to suppress voting rights, limit abortion access, and demonize LGBTQ people are steps right out of Putin’s playbook. We need to stand strong for our democracy against these radicals and that is something I will continue to do in the US Congress as someone who has experience as a teacher, a gay man, and a pro-choice champion.
I’m a proud product of public schools in the 17th district (Hampton Township). My public school education prepared me for the privilege of attending Penn State to become a social studies teacher. Protecting and maintaining our public education infrastructure is important to me.
If the last few years have taught us anything, we need to ensure we have the infrastructure in place to support our students, teachers, and parents, and an education system that is equipped to deal with modern challenges. We all benefit when our children have an effective education – we need to make sure no matter where a child grows up, they are able to access a quality public education.
The pandemic has showcased that we need to make sure we are using 21st century technologies and approaches that prepare students for the real world – and to be good citizens, decent people, and stewards of our environment. Universal preschool and basic child care programs are needed to help make sure we have students that are succeeding and on track to enter the workforce, attend higher education, community college or trade school, and pursue their dreams.
In the last 50 years, union membership has diminished as corporations squeeze every last penny to maximize profits, while wages have remained stagnant for everyday people. While this goes on, extremists have falsely blamed unions for closures and offshoring, instead of the corporations maximizing profits. Unions are needed more than ever; I’ll fight hard to make sure workers have the right to organize and will support legislation that enshrines this in law, which is why I support the PRO Act and the ability for Congressional staff to unionize.
I will also support an increase in minimum wages that will be indexed to inflation, so political impasse doesn’t prevent a bare minimum baseline, as has been true for almost 20 years. I will speak truth to power when massive companies say they can’t pay workers more while CEO pay has exponentially increased with no help to their workforce.
Social Security is one of the most successful anti-poverty programs in history. However, it was supposed to supplement robust savings and pensions – something so few have now. This means so many seniors are dependent on the social security they’ve paid for their whole lives. Republican extremists want to privatize Social Security rather than make the super wealthy pay their fair share. At a time when prices are going up, we need to make sure Social Security benefits are protected and Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) are keeping up.
The Medicare system has revolutionized health care for seniors, so we have to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. We need real transparency and accountability in the prescription drug marketplace. I will also champion legislation to cap out-of-pocket costs for seniors. These are common sense reforms I’ll fight for ahead of tackling universal coverage for every American.
Now, more than ever, we need champions for reproductive healthcare and the right of privacy. We must fight back against extremist attacks on health care providers like Planned Parenthood and protect everyone’s access to reproductive care. We have come too far to give up on health care equality, and in Congress, I will continue to be a champion for reproductive justice.
The right to privacy enshrined in Roe vs. Wade is important for everyone, and especially LGBTQ and other minority communities. I will work to ensure everyone’s right to privacy is protected and that it is enshrined in federal statute and am proud to be supported by NARAL Pro Choice America.
I’ve also led campaigns against mass surveillance by our government (#StopWatchingUS) and believe companies are collecting our information for their exclusive benefit unlike any other time in human history; they need to be held accountable and provide better transparency.
Every American should have access to quality, affordable health care. No one should ever lose coverage because of a pre-existing condition. No one should need to pour over their insurance policy to look for coverage gaps right after they’ve been diagnosed with a serious illness.
We must work together to create progress that will benefit all Americans and ensure everyone in this country has access to quality, affordable healthcare. I know we can both encourage the innovative American health care system that has developed three vaccines for COVID and countless other life saving techniques and we can ensure care is affordable. This will require a lot of hard work and political courage, but we must look past partisanship, pledges, and platitudes. We must agree that rising premiums and loss of coverage is unacceptable. We have to strengthen the Affordable Care Act, reinstate the individual mandate which mitigates risk, and expand our support of insurance exchanges and work towards a public option. I will fight for expanding Medicare coverage to include dental, hearing, and vision care, and to expand who it covers.
The barriers to affordable health care are even worse when it comes to prescription drug prices. These are life saving miracles of modern science–and they need to be available to all Pennsylvanians, regardless of their income level. The Medicare system has revolutionized health care for seniors, so we have to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. We need real transparency and accountability in the prescription drug marketplace. I will also champion legislation to cap out-of-pocket costs for seniors. These are common sense reforms we should all be able to agree on ahead of tackling universal coverage for every American.
We must say once and for all: protect reproductive healthcare and the right to choose. We must fight back against partisan attacks on health care providers like Planned Parenthood and protect everyone’s access to reproductive care. We have come too far to give up on health care equality, and in Congress, I will continue to be a champion for reproductive justice.
The right to privacy is important for everyone, and especially LGBTQ+ communities. As an openly gay man, I will work to ensure everyone’s right to privacy is protected and that it is enshrined in federal statute.
I’ve also lead campaigns against mass surveillance by our government (#StopWatchingUS) and believe companies are collecting our information for their exclusive benefit unlike any other time in human history; they need to be held accountable and provide better transparency.
I’ll be an absolute champion for civil and voting rights to guarantee every citizen is equal under the law. As an out gay man, I can still be fired from my job in Pennsylvania, kicked out my house, denied credit and jury service, and still can’t donate blood. I will be a champion for ensuring everyone, no matter who they are, can live freely in our Commonwealth. I am committed to passing the Equality Act which would enshrine those protections nationally.
I will work to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act which will prevent a suppression of the vote. If you can’t win elections you should work to represent the needs of the people better – but instead, conservatives are trying to change who is able to vote. It is despicable and must be stopped. Everyone who can legally vote should be able to vote by whatever method they prefer – and we should be encouraging convenience in doing this.
We have the opportunity to grow good union jobs, create economic growth, and solve the existential crisis that is climate change. At the federal level, I will be working to address climate change as it is the biggest crisis facing humanity today. I’ll be working to help ensure PA is at the center of a green industrial revolution, one we are uniquely positioned to lead, that will help grow the economy, create good union jobs, and will mitigate the effects of climate change so that our communities are protected for years to come.
Short term corporate profits for the richest industry in the history of the world are not worth the long term devastation to our planet- and that is just the plain truth. I will also work to protect the resiliency funding that was passed as part of the infrastructure law that was passed in 2021, which will likely be a target of cuts. I’ll be working to find solutions that will aggressively ensure our region benefits as we reach the benchmarks to mitigate climate change.
I support President Biden’s decision to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. We also have to build on successful conservation programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Our national parks are international treasures, and our investments now will keep these spaces accessible for generations.
There is also so much waste in our country – food, unsold goods, and perfectly good items people don’t want anymore. I want to work to make sure these things don’t end up in landfills – but can help us reduce and reuse – two things that have gotten away from us and contributed to climate change.
We need to make sure no matter who you are – our system of justice is fair to all. The right-wing backlash to the Black Lives Matter movement has made it clear they are most interested in protecting bad actors instead of the lives of our fellow citizens. We need to rebuff right wing extremist lies and fight for accountability and true justice under the law.
We also need to make sure criminals go to jail, but we aren’t destroying people’s lives over using marijuana. Although Pennsylvania has only legalized medical marijuana, many other states have fully legalized (and profited from) its use. This patchwork of laws is confusing and limiting opportunities. I am supportive of decriminalizing marijuana so someone who went on vacation to a different state doesn’t lose their job when they come back to Pennsylvania. It just doesn’t make sense to continue a policy that is hurting our populace for no good reason.
In a time when corporations are amassing more and more power and rigging the system for themselves, we need to ensure small businesses have every opportunity to succeed. Some of the most popular neighborhoods and towns in Western Pennsylvania have thriving small businesses and commercial districts, but there are many areas that are still struggling. We need to empower small business owners and local entrepreneurs here – and as a member of Congress, I’ll be thinking of what our government can do for them and other innovators in our region, not what can be done for large corporations.
Money in politics is the root of all problems in our broken system, and this is an issue we must prioritize. Everyday middle and working class families’ needs aren’t being heard or represented by a Congress dominated and funded by millionaires. Unfortunately, the super-wealthy are the ones who largely run for office because they have access to wealthy donors – many of whom have their own special interests they want to protect. Candidates who represent working Pennsylvanians should also be hard-working Pennsylvanians themselves. We need to take the money and access to power out of our politics so real people can be the ones making decisions that will help everyone, and not just those at the top. By changing our campaign finance laws, we can have a Congress that looks like the rest of the country and fights for what is needed, not desired by the special interests.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the systemic inequalities in our communities and it is clear we must work together to end disinformation and work together to create solutions that help everyone. Partisan echo-chambers have allowed extremists to politicize the pandemic. I will commit to working across the aisle to ensure everyone in our community has access to life-saving information so that elected officials can make decisions based in science for the betterment of our Commonwealth and country. I will work to address misinformation so that our next national crisis is not framed as a partisan issue. We almost must work to prevent and prepare for our next pandemic, starting with making sure our hospitals are equipped and staffing restored to levels that can not be overwhelmed. I’ll also reject absolutism that is being fed by the algorithms and make sure they stop making extremism the norm.