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Delco Times Q&A

Oct 27, 2022

My direct answers to all the questions asked by the Delco Times

Not all the answers to Kathleen Carey's great questions could fit in her Delco Times' article:

1. Why should voters elect you and not your opponent?

As an independent I can actually do the job of a PA representative: represent the community. Party candidates represent their party and big donors.

Party candidates get elected because party leaders pick them and clear the field before going to voters. This is true in this race and it’s been true over 90% of the time in Delaware County for state house races since 2000.

After winning an uncontested primary race, party candidates raise incredible amounts from outside Delco. Candidate for this seat routinely raises over $700,000 per campaign with up to 90% of that from outside the district and over 50% from political committees with Harrisburg addresses.

Citizens become invisible when candidates focus on their own party and big outside donors. As an Independent, I’ll focus on our district. You’ll never find me at a party caucus meeting or fund raiser. I welcome input from everyone.

2. Assuming your victory, choose a single issue you would prioritize in the coming term — name it and describe what you want to accomplish.

Fighting partisanship is my highest priority.

Ranked-choice voting is a good place to start. In this system, used by Alaska and Maine, voters rank candidates. Even if their first choice doesn’t win, voters can influence the outcome through their other choices.

Ranked-choice voting favors moderate candidates who have broad appeal to many voters as a second choice. It discourages highly partisan candidates that are beloved by some voters and detested by others. This slight voting rule change helps create a political stampede to the middle by the parties.

Though the ranked-choice voting is used elsewhere, it’s new here. The best way to start this new system is to have the voters of each district decide if they want to give it a try for their state house or senate seat. If the change works well, voters in other districts will become interested.

3. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade now leaves the decision about how to regulate abortions up to individual states. Describe the abortion legislation that you would like to see enacted in Pennsylvania.

Our existing policy must remain in place, guaranteeing safe and legal access to abortion before viability and for the protection of the health and life of the mother.

The laws we had under the Casey ruling were balanced and should remain.

4. Pennsylvania, like the rest of the nation, is suffering through a period of severe inflation. What specific steps do you believe need to be taken to address this issue?

We need to be working hard to help retired Pennsylvanians, small business owners, and minimum wage workers keep up. For older Pennsylvanians the income limits for property tax and rent relief need to be adjusted for inflation.

We need to slow the rise of property taxes. With the Federal Reserve rapidly raising interest rates, inflation will come down. We should not lock in permanent increases in real estate taxes in response to transient inflation. We need to temporarily reduce the Act 1 index which sets how fast property taxes can rise. Right now our area is set to be at 5% next year. That’s going to be too high as inflation comes down.

I also favor allowing school districts to transfer some of their existing real estate taxes to income taxes. This will help retired Pennsylvanians, small business owners, and the owners and tenants of rental properties.

Health care costs, as with property taxes, shouldn’t rise permanently with transient inflation. Our state should use it’s regulatory powers in health insurance and health care to pump the breaks on rate increases this year.

5. More than a dozen public opinion surveys found that about two-thirds of Republicans continue to hold the view that the results of the 2020 presidential election were skewed by voter fraud. What would you do to restore voter confidence in the system?

It’s essential that voters know they can trust their elections. Voters should be able to understand every step of the voting process and exactly how fraud is prevented and detected in Pennsylvania elections.

The existing descriptions on the PA Department of State website are not sufficient for voters to understand the precise steps in elections and the fraud protections. It’s definitely not realistic to expect concerned voters to read election statutes and the Department of State’s directive and guidance documents.

I would support funding for the Pennsylvania Department of State to create clearer communications about exactly how our elections are conducted.

The most secure system is one that is open for everyone to evaluate and look for weak points. We should help voters know our system.

6. What steps can Pennsylvania take over the next five or 10 years to address the impacts of climate change?

I favor working to avoid climate change rather than managing the disasters. Green technology has come a long way and now we need to put it to work. An electric car can cost 70% less to fuel for the same distance traveled than a gasoline car and produces no local air pollution, needs no catalytic converter or oil changes, etc.

We need to increase the use of electric-powered vehicles by expanding state tax credits and grants for charging stations and cars. In addition to more incentives to individuals, state government needs to help municipal, county, and school governments acquire electric vehicles and charging stations.

Solar power generation is now as cheap or cheaper than traditional power generation, but not every roof works well for solar. Our utility laws should be changed to allow sharing solar generated power with neighbors. People who have money and motivation but not the right roof could put their money to work. That will get green investments for PA from the citizens of tree-covered places like Swarthmore.

Our Pennsylvania Utility Commission must be charged with driving rapid modernization of the grid to handle higher loads and complexity.

7. How, if at all, should school funding formulas change to ensure parity among all public school districts?

In 2015 a Pennsylvania bipartisan legislative commission recommended that school districts with less wealth and more students should have more state funding to achieve educational outcomes. Since then, however, school funding has been largely frozen because transitioning to the new funding formula would take money away from some districts and give it to others.

Solutions proposed in bills to get to the recommended formula have been to rip the band aid off and change immediately or to spread the process out over five years or give the majority of any increases in state funding to districts that are the most underfunded. None of these have passed.

Since we are currently stuck, I believe that it’s worth retrying these bills with smaller changes. I would propose getting to the fair funding formula over a 10 year period.

8. Would you vote for a recreational medical marijuana bill? Why or why not?

We need to know the risks clearly in advance, because once a recreational industry exists, the money and lobbying power it will have in government will be able to overwhelm negative information, just as we saw for years with tobacco and pain pills.

A concern for me is whether having recreational marijuana will increase underage use. Young brains are still developing and some studies indicate heavy use can cause permanent brain changes.

Prior to moving forward, we need to know more about the increase in underage use, especially heavy use, from states that have changed to recreational marijuana and we need better information from medical studies powered to detect if there are irreversible risks to the brains of young users.

9. What is the greatest social ill facing the country today and how would you work to combat it?

It’s our fraying social fabric. We’ve replaced time spent with family, neighbors, church, synagogue, social clubs, volunteering, etc. with online time and work and we’re not always doing well. We see mental illness increasing in children and disrespect in public life.

We need to work on our social infrastructure as much as our physical infrastructure, especially after the pandemic. We need a less partisan political infrastructure and we need less monetizing of our citizens in health care, education, politics, and business.

We can weaken partisanship in elections (with ranked-choice voting, removing uncontested races from primary ballots), and in Harrisburg’s legislative committees (with term limits for chairmanships, by requiring agendas be made in public before meetings, and by allowing the floor to take bills back).

We can better protect our citizens from raw capitalism: stronger online privacy rules for our children, aggressively pursue price fixing and anti-trust violations, and design clearer limits on exploitive financial engineering in our health care, lending, and education systems.

We need to make it a priority to maintain and improve our parks, recreation centers, and green spaces where we build community. We’re more than votes and sources of cash.

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