When asked by Davies about the leadership qualities the candidates possess that make them uniquely qualified for the position, Senator Leach cited his role in picking a Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge, by publicly suggesting five choices that both Republican and Democratic lawmakers would support. Governor Corbett later chose Correale Stevens, one of Leach’s suggestions, saving months of political infighting. Leach also cited much needed compromise on a bill about women’s rights that brought forth new reforms and prevented complete stalemate.
Margolies cited her involvement in changing a law about adopting children from other countries, which directly impacted her life through her adoption process. She also discussed her involvement in FMLA legislation and laws to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as her infamous 218th vote for President Clinton’s first budget in 1993. That vote and her votes on social security cuts are what lost her the 13th congressional seat so many years ago. On the budget vote, Margolies said “It was the right thing to do.”
Arkoosh discussed her role in closing a multi-million dollar deficit as a department head at Drexel’s Medical School. She says she used her economics background and ability to compromise to make all parties happy and best serve the medical school as a whole, something necessary of the next member of Congress. She also brought up her role in convincing the public after Senator Kennedy’s death that though a public option was incredibly important to healthcare reform, losing the entire bill with that as a sticking point was out of the question.
Boyle discussed his important State Government Committee vote to bring HB 300 (an LGBT non-discrimination bill) to a vote in the State House, the only time that this type of measure ever passed in that governmental body. He said he was proud of that vote and fought through the inundation of emails he received in opposition to do the right thing.
Political Leaders the Candidates Admire
While the organizers of the event sorted out a few technical difficulties with the sound system, Davies asked each candidate who they most admire in politics or public service. Margolies said Elizabeth Warren for her work on economic issues, intimating that we “need a 21st century Glass Steagall Act.” Arkoosh answered with Donna Edwards, because to her, she is an “effective progressive”. Boyle listed Daniel Patrick Moynihan, because he admired his ability to bring academia to political discussions in order to create real change. Leach answered with Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, his daughter’s namesake. He said he was in awe of how much Brennan’s voice left imprints upon legal precedent in every area, even in later years when he was generally a dissenting vote.
Marjorie Margolies’ Surprise Question – The WCI Scandal
Margolies’ surprise section was the most brutal of the night, and deservedly so. Audience members who I interacted with before the start of the debate were unsure whether the controversial decisions Margolies made as chairwoman of WCI would be addressed, but with Davies as a moderator, I knew he would not just let that subject slide. As Davies pressed into the subject further, Margolies told the audience that she recused herself from all votes regarding an increase in her salary. This remains unclear, and with a small board of directors, it remains to be seen whether it matters if she was recused. Her appointment, according to Huffington Post, to the chairwomanship of WCI occurred one month after her failed bid to be Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, further painting the picture to voters that her involvement in the organization was for opportunistic reasons. In regards to the plan to rent a mansion in Philadelphia on WCI’s dime with living quarters for her, after her husband’s fraud charges and their bankruptcy as a couple, Margolies said the plan “never happened. It was discussed. A plan was drawn up….the Huffington Post piece was not true.”
Davies pushed even further, asking why living quarters were a necessary part of the proposed plan, at a time in which Margolies was losing everything. She provided a vague answer and dodged his questions, adding that the plan “went up before citizens concerned about parking issues” and that was why the plan did not go through. It was an incredibly uncomfortable exchange to witness; Margolies had, up until this point, relied on index cards in front of her in order to answer forum questions. Without any appropriate answer at all for her poor choices in the past, she became more and more frazzled, stuttering and whispering as the line of questioning continued. Eventually, Davies moved on.
Arkoosh was one of two candidates state in their answers about foreign policy and specifically the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia the important environmental policy context, the other being Leach. She noted that the potential blockage of natural gas supplies that the United States needs should be an indication to move away from fossil fuels, not a reason to prospect deeper for supplies. She said she supported a more diplomatic approach to foreign policy, with strong, enforced sanctions, and the option to go in with troops if absolutely necessary.
Boyle noted the importance of NATO forces and the UN in decision-making, and also said that people (and countries) needed to chip in for their own security.
Leach said that as a nation we have been too anxious, seeking military action far too often. He described himself as someone who isn’t a universal pacifist, but hopes that we will only act in self-defense, entering wars of necessity over wars of choice. He wanted our foreign policy to address international poverty and start to examine our resource management policies and environmental impacts. Leach cited specific conflicts that happened yesterday, proving to the audience that he is most consistently up to date on foreign affairs of all the candidates.
Margolies answered last, giving her the added benefit of saying she agreed with all the previous speakers. She shuffled through her index cards before saying that she condemns Crimea and supports sanctions. She then went into a long-winded, incoherent discussion about a visit she made with a US delegation two decades ago to Ukraine, during the Orange Revolution. She said that Ukranian citizens told her that they wanted their independence. After that, she discussed work that WCI has done in creating a Peace Garden in Liberia. Imagine all the defense spending we’d save if our universal foreign policy was to create “peace gardens”!
Click here for Part 3.