Wayland says life experiences key to his 177th district run

Sean Patrick Wayland believes his life experiences set him apart from the crowded field.

Wayland

Sean Patrick Wayland is one of at least six Democrats running in the 177th Legislative District, and he believes his life experiences set him apart from the field.

Wayland grew up poor in Castor Gardens, attending J. Hampton Moore Elementary School, Wilson Middle School and Northeast High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve and spent nine months in 2008 in Iraq. He used the Post-9/11 GI Bill to earn a college degree and today works as a manager at a lighting company.

Now, he is eyeing public service.

“The first thing I want to do is help people in the community,” he said during a Friday interview at the River Wards Cafe.

Wayland, 32, and the other candidates have three weeks, starting on Tuesday, to gather 300 nominating petitions to gain a spot on the May 15 primary ballot.

The seat is up for grabs because Republican Rep. John Taylor is not seeking another term.

Wayland and Taylor’s 2016 opponent, Joe Hohenstein, were the only Democrats planning a run before Taylor bowed out.

In the race for a year, Wayland, of Port Richmond, has knocked on doors south of Castor Avenue and attended grassroots organization meetings.

The candidate backs access to treatment, therapy and a support structure for opioid addicts and takes a decisive view on one related issue.

“I support safe injection sites,” he said.

Wayland, who sends his two sons to String Theory Charter School in Center City, believes the School District of Philadelphia needs help. He cites an estimated $1 billion deficit in five years, a shortage of art and music courses and the absence of a full-time nurse at each school.

“It all comes down to funding,” he said.

Wayland supports access to women’s health care, opposing a bill that would limit abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The candidate favors an independent committee drawing congressional seat boundaries, and said he’s received a positive reaction when he hands voters his palm card calling for an end to gerrymandering.

“It’s surprising the number of people who care about it,” he said.

Other Democrats running are Hohenstein, an immigration lawyer who took 45 percent of the vote against Taylor two years ago; Maggie Borski, a law student and daughter of former congressman Bob Borski; union plasterer Sean Kilkenny; community activist Dan Martino; and former City Council aide Sean K. McMonagle.

Tom Forkin, an aide to state Rep. Mike Driscoll and chairman of the 55th Ward Democratic Committee, said last week he would not run.

A possible candidate is Harry Enggasser, a ward leader, aide to U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, two-time challenger to Taylor and president of the Bridesburg Civic Association.

The Republican nominee is expected to be Patty-Pat Kozlowski, a community activist who formerly worked as director of park stewardship at the city Department of Parks and Recreation and as an aide to the late Councilwoman Joan Krajewski. Kozlowski’s official announcement came last week at her alma mater, St. George Elementary School.

Community activist and Wharton School graduate Pete Smith has decided to not seek the GOP nod, instead spending his time with the Tacony Civic Association and a block captain coalition. In a post on the Rowhouse Republicans Facebook page, he blamed “side deals and back room politics.”

Chris Vogler, GOP leader of the 55th Ward, has also decided to skip the race.

••

Sean K. McMonagle, who recently left his job as an aide to City Councilman Mark Squilla, will officially enter the Democratic primary in the 177th Legislative District on Thursday night.

McMonagle, who worked in Council for 19 years, first with former Councilman Frank DiCicco, will kick off his campaign at 5 p.m. at Powers Park, Ann and Almond streets, behind Richmond Library.

In the campaign, McMonagle will focus on the opioid crisis, economic growth, education funding, public safety and the cost of prescription drugs for senior citizens.

“After more than 25 years in public service, I would like to take the experience I have gained to Harrisburg and create legislation which will improve the lives of the constituents in this district,” he said. “I am the only candidate who has the knowledge and experience needed to be successful. With the issues facing the 177th district, now more than ever, experience matters.”

McMonagle is a lifelong Port Richmond resident, a graduate of North Catholic High School and a married father of two.

••

State Rep. Martina White (R-170th dist.) on Monday announced she will be running for re-election.

“My job is about helping the people of Northeast Philadelphia and that’s what I work hard to do every day,” she said. “I work with Democrats and Republicans on issues big and small because I believe elected officials must put partisan politics aside and focus on doing what is right for the people they represent.”

White said she has worked for fiscal discipline and against significant income and sales tax increases. Her priorities are education and job creation.

White, who has always enjoyed union support, supports efforts to make Philadelphia an energy hub through the building of natural gas pipelines that would provide thousands of jobs for skilled labor in the city. She also believes it’s overdue to enact a reasonable shale tax to help support schools.

The lawmaker has introduced legislation to compel Philadelphia to reverse its sanctuary city status. Her legislation to temporarily protect the identity of police officers involved in shootings while official investigations can be undertaken passed the House and Senate but was vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf.

In office, she has hosted Prescription Drug Take Back, KidsFest and senior dance events, and is planning a forum on opioid abuse.

A Parkwood resident, she serves on the Urban Affairs, Health, Consumer Affairs and Judiciary committees and is chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Cities, Counties — First Class under the Urban Affairs Committee.

“I am proud to have delivered on my promises of opposing big tax increases our families can’t afford, standing up for middle-class workers, bringing school funding to record levels and standing with our police and firefighters and protecting U.S. citizens and legal immigrants by opposing sanctuary cities,” she said.

Realtor Mike Doyle is seeking the Democratic nomination. Matt Darragh, an auditor general office employee who took 46 percent of the vote two years ago against White, is a possible candidate.

••

Marcus Paul will challenge state Sen. Tina Tartaglione (D-2nd dist.) in the primary.

Paul’s platform includes boosts in public education funding, free community college tuition, more funding for state environmental agencies and additional grants for local environmental groups.

••

Laura Ellsworth, an Allegheny County attorney and Republican candidate for governor, last week called Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal “more of the same — more spending, more taxes and more burdens on the backs of working families and job creators.”

In his speech in front of the General Assembly, outlining spending plans for the coming fiscal year, Wolf proposed a general fund budget of nearly $33 billion.

Last year, an impasse delayed enactment of an on-time budget.

“Clearly, in an election year, Tom Wolf can’t afford to go AWOL again. The only real question will be what sleight of hand he employs to make it appear he’s not digging the state further into debt and taxes,” Ellsworth said.

Ellsworth is among three Republicans running for governor. The others are state Sen. Scott Wagner and Allegheny County businessman Paul Mango. Wagner earned the state party’s backing over the weekend. House Speaker Mike Turzai dropped out of the race. ••