The Tartan Elections Guide
This upcoming Tuesday marks the end of a campaign season that began long before this tumultuous year. It may have slipped your mind that there is anything on the ballot other than the presidential race this year, but there certainly is. For those students registered in Pittsburgh who haven’t voted early this year, no fear: The Tartan has a guide for what contested races you might see on your ballot besides the presidential election.
This year, Carnegie Mellon’s Wiegand Gym is open as a polling location for those who have registered with their on-campus SMC address. You can also visit Votes PA to find your polling location. The following information is compiled from the voting guides of the League of Women Voters and The Incline, whose guides we encourage you to check out as well.
Pennsylvania House District 23:
Dan Frankel, Democratic Party
Top issues: Gun reform, protecting abortion rights, regulating gas companies, protections for LGBTQ people in the workplace. (Issues page)
Positions: Dan Frankel is the incumbent for this seat, and has spent his time in the House pushing for gun control and civil rights.
Jay Ting Walker, Green Party
Top issues: Banning fracking, banning lobbyist gifts, free college, defunding the police, single-payer health care. (Issues page)
Positions: Jay Ting Walker is challenging the longtime incumbent Frankel by running to his left on issues important to young voters, advocating for free state and community college tuition and a ban on fracking.
U.S. House District 18:
Mike Doyle, Democratic Party
Top issues: Protecting Obamacare, Medicare-for-All, universal background checks and banning assault weapons, “100% clean energy by the year 2050.” (Issues page)
Positions: Doyle has held the seat for thirteen terms, and has focused on issues such as immigration reform and gun control and economic growth in southwestern PA.
Luke Edison Negron, Republican Party
Top issues: Term limits for congress, against abortion, “gun rights," flat taxation, regulating internet porn. (Issues page)
Positions: Negron is a rare challenger for Doyle, the thirteen-term incumbent, who has staked opposing positions from Doyle on access to guns, healthcare, abortion and health care.
Josh Shapiro, Democratic Party
Top issues: “We must continue battling the heroin and opioid crisis that is taking 12 Pennsylvanians’ lives each day. Our efforts must focus on a multi-pronged approach of prosecuting high-level drug dealers, holding pharmaceutical companies accountable and making treatment more accessible and affordable. We must stand up for consumers against predatory lending companies, scammers, and others trying to take advantage of Pennsylvanians. That includes ensuring Pennsylvanians have access to affordable, quality health care. We must keep our communities safe, by collaborating effectively across law enforcement, reforming our criminal justice system to ensure equal enforcement, taking crime guns off our streets, and much more.” (League of Women Voters)
Positions: As Attorney General, Shapiro has investigated sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, investigated pharmaceutical manufacturers and secured injunctions for no-cost access to contraception.
Heather Heidelbaugh, Republican Party
Top Issues: “1. Keep PA Safe-The Commonwealth Attorneys Act states one of the main roles of the AG is criminal prosecutions. This would be my top priority. The AG works with local DAs and law enforcement to keep PA residents safe, including a strong commitment to addressing drug trafficking and the opioid crisis. 2. Put People Before Politics-Restore the AG’s Office to following mandates set forth in the Commonwealth Attorneys Act and perform lawyering for the people of PA versus using the office for political gain. 3. Protect the Mentally Ill - Establish a Blue Ribbon Panel of experts from PA to examine the treatment of the mentally ill, address the current state of mental illness, and more. The panel would issue a Report suggesting structural changes.” (League of Women Voters)
Positions: Heidelbaugh has criticized Shapiro for what she sees as a national political focus for his time in office. She has proposed suing China due to the coronavirus.
Daniel Wassmer, Libertarian Party
Top issues: “-Major Criminal Justice Police Reform. -Decriminalize Marijuana (and other drugs) shifting to a medical treatment options (someone with a state authorized ‘license’ can sell drugs reaping a huge profit but a person selling a nickel bag of marijuana is charged with a crime - shouldn’t be!) -Stopping the threat of Anti-Trust litigation by BOTH old parties which is used simply as a ploy to leverage ‘campaign contributions’ as a form of legalized extortion against our competitive big tech firms and permitting a real ‘free market’ to pick winners and losers (Note: This is the only time in modern history where companies delivering ‘convenience’ and ‘lower prices for consumers’ have been shaken down allegedly to protect consumers [what nonsense]” (League of Women Voters)
Positions: Wassmer has staked a firmly anti-antitrust stance, calling it a means to “shake down giant corporations.”
Richard L. Weiss, Green Party
Top issues: “1. Save the taxpayers’ money. Reduce prison population by 50%, by not seeking cash bail, not bringing charges merely for drug possession or consensual relations between adults. Only those who are actually a threat to the community should be incarcerated. Others should be diverted from the prison system to programs designed to help them pay their debt to society and reintegrate into the community. Prosecutorial resources can then be directed to addressing violent crime, combating corruption and consumer protection. 2. Reformation of the system of policing. Citizen Review Boards are only a start. Community and police must establish standards of conduct and need special prosecutors for police misconduct. 3. Promote Restorative Justice.” (League of Women Voters)
Positions: As Green Party candidate for Attorney General, Weiss sees the position as primarily concerning “public safety, with the goal of attaining peace characterized by a community that is inclusive and harmonious.” (League of Women Voters)
Nina Ahmad, Democratic Party
Top Issues: “Healthcare, Education and Jobs: To reduce healthcare costs I will find efficiencies in reimbursements to pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), 3rd -party administrators of prescription drug programs. I will lead the design of an audit to assess pandemic preparedness incorporating the lessons learned from the current COVID-19 pandemic on all fronts including healthcare, education, and the economy. Developing data-driven analyses to identify funding gaps in education, I will advocate for equitable funding, universal pre-K, and affordable post-secondary education. I will harness science and technology to create family sustaining jobs of the future and will advocate for workforce development dollars to be invested in this sector.” (League of Women Voters)
Positions: Ahmad plans on using the power of the audit to cut healthcare costs by “taking on big pharma and insurers with entrenched interests.”
Timothy DeFoor, Republican Party
Top Issues: “My ﬁrst priority as Auditor General is to make sure those funds were allocated to those individuals and businesses for who they were intended. 2) Work to have a more transparent government. For example, I will work to end political loopholes like the “honor system” that allows state agencies to keep high-dollar, taxpayer funded contracts hidden from the public. 3) Bring in subject matter experts to audit the progress and performance of any new and expensive initiatives and projects to determine how and if taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely.” (League of Women Voters)
Positions: DeFoor advocates strongly for a more transparent and accountable government, working to end fraudulent activities in both the public and private sectors.
Olivia Faison, Green Party
Top Issues: “1) There is a desperate need for a third party. I welcome the values that the Green Party Pillars describe - Grassroots Democracy, Ecological Wisdom, Social Justice, and Peace. (I would like to throw in Honesty and Respect). 2) Racist Laws like the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott Decision show how deep racism is ingrained in our society. Unfair laws and practices like voter suppression, purging voters off lists, and long voting lines must end. 3) Quality Education & Climate Change - Growing up, I remember the fog being so thick, you could not see down the street. Upon my return, no one can recall the last time they have seen fog hit the streets of Philly. We have lost a very important regular occurring weather pattern without anyone noticing!” (League of Women Voters)
Positions: Faison plans to use the office of the auditor general to raise awareness of climate change and support grassroots organizations.
Jennifer Moore, Libertarian Party
Top Issues: “1. Transparency: How many times have you heard a fellow Pennsylvanian joke about the “temporary” Johnsontown ﬂood tax that we have been paying since 1936? How about the gas tax, or turnpike tolls that are consistently repurposed for other projects? Taxpayers deserve to know where their money is going. Funds should be spent on what they were appropriated for. 2. Covid-19 has signiﬁcantly impacted our state. Areas like education, healthcare, small business and unemployment have all been affected. It will be very important to audit the performance of related programs as well as ensuring that funds were properly allocated. 3. Combat government waste and inefﬁciency. I will work to ensure effective use of taxpayer dollars.” (League of Women Voters)
Positions: Moore plans on looking for irregularities in finances by drawing on her time in healthcare finance.
Joseph Torsella, Democratic Party
Top Issues: “From Day One, my most important duty has been restoring integrity to an ofﬁce too often marred by scandal: 3 of the last 5 elected Treasurers have been indicted. Upon taking ofﬁce, I immediately banned the use of middlemen to win investment contracts and introduced Treasury’s ﬁrst conﬂict-of-interest policy and Chief Integrity Ofﬁcer. My top priority now is building solutions to help Pennsylvanians recover from COVID-19 on solid ﬁnancial ground. We created the Keystone Scholars program, which gives at-birth college and career savings accounts to every child born or adopted in Pennsylvania, and we ﬁght to hold Wall Street accountable to taxpayers, as trustees for our public pension systems and through legal action when necessary.” (League of Women Voters)
Positions: Torsella's plans include automatic bank accounts for college and retirement savings in PA, as well as investing in Open Data.
Stacy Garrity, Republican Party
Top Issues: Transparency for the office of the treasurer, returning unclaimed property, eliminating fees in taxpayer-funded pension systems, 529 accounts for college expenses. Issues page
Positions: Garrity has been endorsed by Trump in her run against the incumbent, Torsella.
Timothy Runkle, Green Party
Top Issues: "I intend to use my ofﬁce to push forward an agenda that is future focused and serves the people of Pennsylvania. Every monetary decision I make will consider how we can 1) prepare the State for a Green New Deal by investing in sustainable jobs and eliminating dirty industry handouts, 2) restructure our outdated tax code by closing corporate tax evasion loopholes and providing for equitable taxation, and 3) reform the criminal justice system by ending cash bail and reducing incarceration and recidivism.” (League of Women Voters)
Positions: Runkle looks to implement changes that increase transparency, specifically around the use of tax money. He also wants to prepare for a more sustainable future by restructuring the nation’s industry.
Joseph Soloski, Libertarian Party
Top Issues: “I will be working to influence the Governor and the Legislature to minimize taxes, and cut the costs of government wherever possible. The budget of the Commonwealth has exploded over the past 20 years and the Republicans and Democrats, who have been in power for more than 150 years, are doing little to curb the runaway growth of state government and advocate for the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.” (League of Women Voters)
Positions: In office, Soloski plans to cut wages for legislators and push to lower corporate net income tax.
Police review question
Voters will be asked whether or not police officers should be required to cooperate with Independent Police Review Board investigations. This measure would require police leadership to hear the board’s recommendations before making a decision on disciplinary action and allow the board to conduct performance audits. It also would give the mayor power to remove people from the board, with the potential for city council to override. This measure was unanimously supported by the members of the Pittsburgh City Council.