Candidates in Pennsylvania’s May 15th Primary state their case to Mayfair’s Civic Association
Last Monday, the Mayfair Civic Association held its annual Candidates Night, with members of the civic having the opportunity to hear from individuals on both sides of the aisle seeking a wide variety of offices in Pennsylvania’s May 15 primary. Each candidate, or representative for their campaign, was allotted five minutes to pitch their platform and discuss what they view as the most pressing issues in the upcoming elections.
The lone race for an open seat in Mayfair is to replace longtime state Rep. John Taylor’s seat in the 177th District. Taylor is retiring from the Pennsylvania legislature after 34 years in office after this current term. Each of the five candidates seeking to replace him, four Democrats and one Republican, were present at the meeting to plead their case.
Democrat Joe Hohenstein went head to head with Taylor in the 2016 general election, but came up short. The immigration attorney is once again seeking this office and proudly stated his effort to run for this seat just two years ago.
“Depending on your perspective, I’m either the person brave enough or foolish enough to have run when this was a difficult race to run against John Taylor in 2016,” said Hohenstein.
Hohenstein said he respected the work Taylor has done for the district, but believed Taylor was going “a little too far to the right from what the district needed.”
Hohenstein, like several candidates this night, highlighted the current state of schools in Philadelphia as his reason to hop in the race.
“The big motivation for me was schools and the disparity in the way that Harrisburg treats Philadelphia…,” said Hohenstein.
Maggie Borski, also seeking the Democratic Party nomination, highlighted schools as her top reason in entering the race.
“№1, our schools,” said Borski. “We gotta do better for our students. We need better funding for K-12 institutions.”
She also echoed the need for better funding for higher education, citing Pennsylvania as first in the nation in student loan debt. Borski, 25, is a graduate of Bloomsburg University and currently enrolled at Temple University Law.
While talking about the economy, Borski was the only candidate of the night to state her opinion on what the minimum wage should be.
“We need to support raising our minimum wage to $15,” Borski said. “We also need to get equal pay for women and men.”
Borski opened up her address by stating, “To answer you’re first question, I am 25,” and completed it by stating her age as an advantage.
“We need new energy and new voices in Harrisburg,” Borski said.
Sean Kilkenny, one of the four Democrats seeking this office, mentioned education as his first priority while taking office.
Kilkenny, a Father Judge graduate, joined the plasterers union after completing high school and did not attend college. Kilkenny touted his experience as an international field representative in the union, which led him to “traveling the country 42 weeks a year,” as a reason he understands working families issues.
Kilkenny discussed the need for funding career technical education for those who do not pursue college after high school and sees student loans holding people back to getting a start in life.
Kilkenny also believes that crime needs to be addressed as soon as possible and thinks the police department needs new equipment to better handle the issues in their district. He completed his address by mentioning his endorsement from the Fraternal Order of Police, firefighters and medics and the building trades, among others.
Democrat Dan Martino spent his five minutes addressing quality-of-life issues as his reason for jumping in the race.
“There was a quality-of-life crisis where I live,” Martino said. “We’re right on the front lines of the heroin epidemic and we get a lot of transient people coming through to essentially steal what they can and give nothing back.”
Martino, elected secretary of the Olde Richmond Civic Association and director of Olde Richmond’s Town Watch program, sees the opioid crisis as the issue that is most needed to be handled.
“As a Town Watch captain, it’s very difficult for me to manage crime when there are open-air heroin camps in my district,” Martino said. “That’s something that we need to address right away, not after the election, something I think we should be dealing with right now.”
Martino, a graphic designer, has been an advocate for proposed safe injection sites to combat the opioid epidemic in Philadelphia.
The lone Republican looking to succeed Taylor is Patty-Pat Kozlowski, who spent her five minutes discussing the opioid epidemic. She has a differing opinion from Martino.
“I came out against these safe injection sites because I think it’s going to kill our quality of life,” said Kozlowski.
She detailed her background working for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation for the past eight years and recalled having to pick up needles in McPherson Park so the children wouldn’t step on them.
She credited the work Martino and groups like Angels in Motion for their work in trying to combat the dilemma, although they do not see the same solution. Kozlowski went on to describe a recent incident in which she was giving out sandwiches with Angels in Motion for the day to those in tents taking drugs. She mentioned how the needle of a man who she believes was taking heroin, ended up grazing her pants with his needle, although it did not break the surface.
“How did we let it come to this?” asked Kozlowski. “I feel like if we let them legally shoot up, there’s no turning back.”
Michele Lawrence made her case why she should be the Democratic nominee for the 2nd Congressional District, which will now encompass all of Mayfair, not U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle.
Democrat Marcus Paul and Republican Elijah Myers, seeking to unseat state Sen. Christine Tartaglione, both spoke about their campaigns.
Also in attendance were representatives from Tartaglione and Boyle, Republican Scott Wagner’s campaign for governor and Democrats Kathi Cozzone and Nina Ahmad, who are running for lieutenant governor.
In other news:
New Courtland delivered a presentation on its new LIFE Program at St. Bart’s.
The Mayfair Fallen Heroes Run and Mayfair May Fair are set for Saturday, May 19. ••
John Cole can be reached at JCole@bsmphilly.com