HomeHome Page FeaturedDecision time in the 172nd

Decision time in the 172nd

State Rep. Kevin Boyle
Sean Dougherty
Aizaz Gill
Patrick Gushue

Tuesday is election day, and voters in the 172nd Legislative District will have choices in the Democratic and Republican primaries.

In the Democratic primary, state Rep. Kevin Boyle is being challenged by lawyer Sean Dougherty.

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In the Republican primary, Burholme Civic Association president Aizaz Gill faces former Army Ranger Patrick Gushue.

Here is a look at the race:

Democratic primary

Boyle was not expected to have a primary challenge until a video surfaced of him at Gaul & Co. Malt House, in Rockledge. Boyle tells bartenders and patrons that he will “f—— end this bar.” Later, he calls people at the bar “f—— idiots” and “f—— morons,” and tells them to “push me out” when they urge him to leave. He tells the people they are “not from here” and will prevent them from being promoted in the military, though the people respond that they are not in the military. The video ends with Boyle saying, “This bar is done,” and, “Do you know who the f— I am.”

Boyle did not respond to a request for an interview on the campaign, and police had been looking for him for allegedly violating a protection from abuse order said to be involving text messages sent to his ex-wife. The texts are not said to be threatening, and on Monday the district attorney’s office withdrew the arrest warrant after determining the PFA was not active.

Democrats are backing Dougherty because they believe a damaged Boyle would have no shot at keeping the seat in the general election.

“The seat is very important to the Democratic majority,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty has bought digital ads that picture Boyle and say, “Kevin Boyle can’t deliver for us,” and, “We deserve better,” and show an Inquirer headline reading Boyle “lost his access to the Pennsylvania Capitol building.” He described the video as “concerning,” adding he hopes Boyle gets treatment.

Dougherty is a graduate of St. Albert the Great and La Salle High School, earned a political science degree summa cum laude from Chestnut Hill College in 2016 and graduated from Temple School of Law three years later.

He worked as a public defender until entering the race and now works for a civil law firm.

While he’s known mostly as the son of state Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dougherty and the nephew of former IBEW Local 98 boss John Dougherty, he said there is a strong history of public service on his maternal side. His great-grandfather was a judge, his grandfather was a colonel and pilot in the Army and he has uncles and cousins in the military.

Dougherty has been endorsed by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 and the building trades. He likens the campaign to his work as a lawyer – he has to be prepared, outwork his opponent and put the decision in the hands of the people.

“I’m treating this race like a trial,” he said.

Dougherty points to his roots in the district – he grew up in Pine Valley and recently bought a house in Fox Chase – to say that he is well positioned to provide much-needed representation to residents of the 172nd.

“I want to be that voice for them,” he said.

When Dougherty knocks on doors, he hears what tops voters’ agenda. 

“Public safety is the top priority,” he said.

Dougherty said he has also heard from a lot of women concerned about access to abortion. Other issues he is focusing on include school funding, union jobs and funding for Philadelphia police to train and retain officers and for public defenders’ offices to retain lawyers who he said have big caseloads but work for low pay.

Republican primary

Gill, a graduate of St. Cecilia, Father Judge and Chestnut Hill College, has the endorsement of the GOP ward leaders in the district and said voters he’s met at doors have been receptive to his message. He thanks voters for putting his campaign signs on their lawns.

“People are ready for change. The No. 1 thing is public safety,” he said, adding that he recently spoke to a woman who fears taking her grandchild to the park due to safety concerns.

Gill supports the state’s Act 40, which empowers the state attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to prosecute crimes committed on or near SEPTA property. The legislation passed due to District Attorney Larry Krasner’s reputation for leniency.

“I want to impeach Larry Krasner,” Gill said.

On other issues, Gill wants to control spending, protect jobs and institute Lifeline Scholarships for students stuck in a low-performing school.

“We have to give parents school choice,” he said.

As a civic leader, he supports Tuesday’s proposed Home Rule Charter change that would require the city to provide for the indemnification and defense of registered community organizations sued in zoning variance cases.

”RCOs are the frontlines protecting communities,” he said.

Gill served as campaign manager last year for City Councilman Brian O’Neill, and has been endorsed by O’Neill, former Councilmen David Oh and Al Taubenberger, U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick and FOP Lodge 92, which represents state inspection, safety and investigation employees.

Gill thinks he has common-sense proposals that will make him a strong general election candidate.

“I think I will have broad, bipartisan support,” he said.

Gushue, who spent eight years in the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan, believes he would be the better candidate in November because of issues such as trust, leadership and a focus on the people rather than political party bosses, the establishment, the status quo and special interests. He said it’s important to end the Democratic majority because of their support for higher taxes and to allow Republicans to impeach Krasner and pass laws to punish criminals.

Gushue is a Father Judge graduate who earned a business degree with honors from Gwynedd Mercy University after his time in the Army. He is pursuing a master’s in public administration at Penn’s Fels Institute of Government.

“I am running for state representative because I want to bring back active, present and effective representation to the district. The current representative in this district has been distant and even completely absent for too long. The people of Northeast Philly deserve someone who is going to be a strong voice for them in Harrisburg,” he said.

Gushue’s top issues are the cost of living, crime and education. He’d support economic policies that reduce wasteful spending and resist tax increases that will further burden small businesses and families. He opposes a bill by House Democrats that would increase the state income tax for small businesses by 300%, adding that those additional expenses could be passed on to consumers.

Gushue, who has been endorsed by Pennsylvania State Police Troopers Lodge #37 and the Temple University Police Association, supports the impeachment of Krasner and Act 40 to assign a special prosecutor to criminal cases that occur on SEPTA property.

He’ll support legislation to invest in education infrastructure from early childhood to trade schools and universities.

“We need to be able to offer our children a wide variety of career opportunities and their parents should have a say in where they attend school,” he said.

Gushue said his military experience taught him to be an effective leader, to perform effectively under pressure and the importance of service to others.

The candidate said his business degree and current pursuit of a master’s in public administration will help him in areas such as fiscal policies, taxation, economic development, financial management, budgeting, accounting and best practices.

“I plan to use this knowledge to more effectively lead in Harrisburg,” he said. ••

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