We announced recently that we’d be introducing a new feature here at Keystone Politics, an idea that I suggested. Basically, I think the dynamics between the press and candidates for public office deserves a small tweak, in order to allow more information to be offered to readers, and to provide more transparency of ideas and substance over political spin. We’re hoping to be a part of this change.
We’re going to be offering all the participating candidates in contested primary races an opportunity to say what they would like to say, in 1000 words or less. We’ll always offer the opportunity to all the participating candidates, incumbent or challenger, well-funded or the write-in candidate. When the general election season comes around, I hope that we’ll be able to have Republicans and Democrats participate in the same exact way, but that remains to be seen.
In our inaugural test-drive of “The Stump” (or #TheStump as it will be known on Twitter), we offered this opportunity to all three candidates in the 164th state house district Democratic primary. They were told they’d have 1000 words in which to discuss anything, the submissions would be posted at the same time out of fairness, and that the KP writers reserve the right to write follow up pieces to challenge any points they make that may not be forthright or accurate.
State Representative Davidson’s staff declined to participate, and after an extension of time, though challenger Dafan Zhang implied to us that he’d participate, he has still not sent us his submission, as of 6:11 PM Friday night.
Here is challenger Billy Smith’s submission.
My name is Billy J. Smith. I am the son of a single mother, a graduate of public schools, and the first in my family to become an attorney. I am the right candidate to represent the 164th District because I best embody the values and aspirations of the people of this District.
My wife and I are raising our two young children in Lansdowne, where we have lived since 2005. As a former Prosecutor in Philadelphia County and a former Councilman for Lansdowne Borough, I know that service to the public is a privilege that comes with a great deal of responsibility. I am asking voters for the opportunity to fight for their voices to be heard by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania so that, together, we may build a better 164th District.
Currently, the will and aspirations of the 164th District are not well served in Harrisburg. If I am elected to represent the 164th District, I will:
Stand strong with women and unequivocally support women’s right to defend and protect their reproductive health and rights;
Stand up to the threat from extremist groups aiming to limit our children’s access to free, quality education;
Fight to eliminate poverty wages for workers so that they may raise their families with the dignity, pride and security that should be the reward for hard work;
Stand with our friends and neighbors seeking marriage equality;
Bring family-sustaining jobs to our community and work to help small businesses grow and prosper;
Work with Republicans when it’s in the best interests of the 164th District, and always vote like a Democrat.
The redrawn 164th District encompassing Upper Darby, Lansdowne, East Lansdowne, Millbourne and Yeadon presents Democrats a unique opportunity on May 20: to reclaim the power of candidate nominations from party leaders and put it back in the hands of the people.
Contested primaries are rare – that is by design from those in power. A true Democracy is by, for and of its people. On May 20th, the people of the 164th District have a rare and precious opportunity to review the record of their current elected representative and make a change if that is their will.
On May 20th, the individual members of our party will decide collectively who we are and what we stand for as a community. Are we as Democrats OK with joining Republicans in their efforts to abolish safe, legal abortions in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? Are we as Democrats OK with the siphoning of nearly $2 billion from public schools in support of charter schools that do not welcome all students and operate with little to no transparency? Are we as Democrats OK with a Republican-drawn Congressional map that ensures more Republicans win Congressional seats despite Democratic candidates receiving the most votes statewide?
As I Democrat, I am not OK with any of the above. Nor am I alone: I have already been endorsed by the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women, and the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP).
My fellow Democrats in the 164th District: You have a unique and vitally important opportunity to truly hold your elected representatives accountable. Analyze, question and compare the professional experiences of each candidate that seeks the privilege of representing you in Harrisburg. Tell us your concerns for our community and ask how we plan to address them. On May 20th, use this information to choose the Democrat you feel best represents your interests and the collective interests of our community.
You have a little more than 30 days to ask questions, visit campaign offices and call and write the candidates. I welcome each and every opportunity to tell you why I am the best candidate to represent you in Harrisburg. And even if you are not convinced, I hope you vote on May 20th. It’s that important.