Local candidates preparing for debates, elections

While the nation looks forward to watching Monday’s Clinton/Trump debate, local folks could get a closeup view of several debates among candidates for state legislature.

Challengers in three districts have asked the incumbents for debates.

One debate is set. State Rep. Martina White (R-170th dist.) will square off with Democrat Matt Darragh on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 7 to 8 p.m. at Somerton Youth Organization, 1400 Southampton Road.

Times staffers will serve as the moderator and timekeeper, and there will be a meet and greet with the candidates from 8 to 8:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.

Democrat Joe Hohenstein is challenging state Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.) to a debate.

A Hohenstein intern delivered a letter to Taylor’s campaign office, and the Democrat sent a follow-up email.

Hohenstein wrote, “The people of the 177th District deserve to hear from both of us why we are running for this seat. I believe that you care about these neighborhoods as much as I do, and I hope that you will give your constituents the opportunity to make as informed a decision as possible in November.”

Ross Feinberg, the Republican candidate facing state Sen. John Sabatina Jr. (D-5th dist.), first issued a debate challenge in May.

More recently, he delivered letters to Sabatina’s house, two district offices and Democratic City Committee headquarters, calling for a frank, honest and open discussion of challenges facing the district.

“Our constituents deserve to be actively engaged by us, and not taken for granted,” he said.

Feinberg, who is running on a platform to “Make the Great Northeast, Bridesburg and Port Richmond Great Again,” has not received a response.

So, on Monday, he set a time and location for the debate. It’ll take place on Thursday, Oct. 13, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Curran’s Irish Inn, at State Road and Longshore Avenue. A Times staffer is scheduled to moderate.

Sabatina, elected as a state representative in 2006 and to the Senate last year, said he hasn’t thought much about a debate.

“If I have time, I’ll debate him,” he said. “My record’s been on display the last 10 years.”

ull;•

The environmental group Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania has endorsed Democrat Joe Hohenstein, the Democratic challenger to state Rep. John Taylor (R-177th dist.).

“The oil and gas industry seems to believe that democracy is for sale in Pennsylvania,” said Josh McNeil, the group’s executive director. “Unfortunately, Rep. Taylor hasn’t done anything to challenge that belief. It is time for a change, for a candidate who puts the interests of his constituents ahead of the interests of oil and gas companies. Joe Hohenstein offers the change we need to stand up against the dirty money polluting our democracy.”

“I am honored to have the endorsement of CVPA, and I vow to protect the environment if elected to state representative,” Hohenstein said.

Taylor has scored 18 percent on the group’s Pennsylvania Environmental Scorecard this year.

Last week, he joined the Philadelphia Water Department in holding an event titled How Clean Is Your Drinking Water?

“It is interesting that the first time John Taylor seems to care about the quality of his constituents’ water is during an election year,” said Ted Bordelon, Hohenstein’s campaign manager.

“Hosting an informational meeting is a great first step, and one that should have been taken years ago. The fact stands that John has voted with polluters time and time again and has done virtually nothing in office to proactively head off these concerns.”

Hohenstein previously was endorsed by Clean Water Action, the Sierra Club, SEIU State Council, Planned Parenthood and Liberty City Democratic Club.

ull;•

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey held a conference call with reporters on what he dubbed the “job-killing” ethanol mandate.

The ethanol mandate is a federal program in which refiners blend biofuel into gasoline for cars. The biofuel is largely made from corn, and the program is beloved by refineries and corn-producing states like Iowa.

Toomey referred to the mandate as “corporate welfare.”

“There’s a very powerful lobby to continue it,” he said.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump back the mandate, which supporters say helps the environment, lowers gas prices and decreases America’s reliance on foreign oil.

Opponents say the mandate hurts the environment and causes food costs to rise.

“The ethanol mandate does environmental harm,” Toomey said.

Toomey was joined on the call by Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.

In the Senate, Toomey has worked with liberal Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California in trying to end the mandate.

Even former Vice President Al Gore opposes the mandate.

Toomey’s Democratic opponent, Katie McGinty, favors the mandate.

Toomey held the call following an announcement by Philadelphia Energy Services that it will lay off employees and cut health care benefits due in large part to the $250 million cost of complying with the government-backed ethanol blending credits this year.

ull;•

Katie McGinty, the Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, received the endorsement of Teamsters Joint Council 53.

“Katie McGinty will tirelessly fight for working families in Pennsylvania and across the United States,” said Teamsters International Vice President Bill Hamilton. “During her speech, she talked about people’s constitutional right to form their unions, which is so refreshing to hear in today’s world where anti-worker, anti-union groups are out to deny workers their federally protected right to form their unions.”

ull;•

Democrats were not impressed that Donald Trump issued a statement declaring that he believes President Barack Obama was born in the United States.

“Donald Trump’s campaign said he was doing the country a ‘service’ by pushing racist lies about our president, but in reality his peddling of bigoted conspiracy theories is a national disgrace. By refusing to apologize for his years of bigotry, Americans — especially black Americans — have seen his true colors. Simply put: There is no ‘new’ Donald Trump and there never will be,” said state Rep. Dwight Evans.

“Donald Trump cannot wash away nearly a decade of bigoted lies. Not only does he owe President Obama an apology for promoting these ridiculous birther conspiracies and keeping them alive, but also to the American people, who have had to endure years of his attempts to undermine and delegitimize our first black president. He continues to mainstream hate and division, and his refusal to denounce this bigotry makes it clear that he has no place representing the American people and is unfit to be our president,” said former City Councilwoman Marian Tasco. ••