By Justin Daniel
Ed Neilson is the representative for the 174th Legislative District, which is where I live. I’ve researched Neilson’s bio and also the stances that he has taken for a school project. Ed Neilson went to Abraham Lincoln High School, and later went on to become a lifelong member of the IBEW Local 98, where he managed 6,000 workers and helped to ensure funding and other assets for the people of Northeast Philadelphia. Neilson is on the legislative committees of Consumer Affairs, Game and Fisheries, Gaming Oversight, and Transportation.
Throughout his tenure in office as state representative, Neilson has made key votes on a variety of topics like immigration, when he voted “yes” on House Bill 28, which was supported by Rep. Martina White. This bill would punish sanctuary municipalities that don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities, and also punish municipalities for whatever damage is caused by undocumented immigrants who are released by local police despite ICE requests for detaining them and are then convicted of a crime. Another key bill was House Bill 1448, which would authorize lead testing in school water systems, as it is important that kids get clean, fresh-tasting water while they are at school. However, despite the good strides that Neilson has made, he did make the wrong decision on one particular bill: House Bill 2050, which he voted “no” to on April 16, 2018. This bill prohibited abortions solely because of the sex of the fetus or a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. In my opinion, this was a step backward, as it is not in my morals to abort a fetus in general, let alone for its gender or because of a genetic disorder.
According to his website, Neilson’s legislative priorities are job creation, honoring and protecting the elderly, improving public safety, improving the city’s educational climate, and effectively addressing the problem of absentee landlords. These are very important aspects of our society, and I think there does need to be change in those places, especially improving public safety and the city’s education climate. People shouldn’t have to fear that something bad will happen to them when they’re down the street. As for improving the educational climate, it is key that every kid in Philadelphia is properly educated and that there is a bigger investment in the next generation, which is our young people.
If there is one thing that I would like to be addressed in legislation is making state colleges much cheaper, if not free for students who are residents of Pennsylvania. Many students throughout the country face the problem of paying off college debt, and too many times there comes the situation where people decide not to go to college because of the steep price. This is relevant, as my classmates and I will be going to college next year. I personally don’t want to have to worry about how I’m going to pay off my college debt, and I think that it’s not right to have students to have to pay off a four-year education for the next 10-20 years. I would like that to be changed in the near future. Nevertheless, Neilson has proven himself to be a proper representative of the working class and the population of Northeast Philadelphia, and I have hope that his next two years in office will be even better. ••
Justin is a senior at Julia R. Masterman High School. In his social sciences class, he has been assigned a project to write an op-ed on his local state representative.