Brian Sims is stepping down as State Rep. of the 182nd district, and that leaves his seat vacant. The candidates who wish to represent the district in Harrisburg are Deja Alvarez, Will Gross, Jonathan Lovitz and Ben Waxman. Waxman is a strong and longtime LGBT ally and former press secretary to Larry Krasner. Gross, a cafe owner, tells us he is an LGBT ally but has no record on our issues. Alvarez highlights her career as a community advocate and her professional experience in the nonprofit and public health field, and she would be the first Latina Trans woman in the Pennsylvania legislature. Jonathan Lovitz highlights his career as a union member, experienced lawmaker, and trusted leader, and he is running as a pro-economy, pro-solutions candidate with legislative experience.
Obviously an LGBT newspaper should endorse an LGBT candidate if they are qualified, and in this race we’ve looked at the two LGBT candidates in many ways including endorsements, fundraising, campaign staff, practical experience, and the positions they take on the issues. But one issue in particular caught our attention this campaign season.
While both Alvarez and Lovitz say they are ready on day one, their positions on how to pass the Equality Act are polar opposites. At the Liberty City candidate debate, when the candidates were asked what they would do to pass the Equality Act, Deja Alvarez stated “You know, to be quite honest, the equality bill, unless we do take over the House, doesn’t have much of a chance to get passed. But what we can do is we can fight the other individual bills that do pop up to make sure that we’re not allowing them to get through while we are pushing for the equality bill.” That statement, to be polite, is dangerously wrong and shows a lack of understanding of the job she is running for. Can you imagine any minority politician just giving up? Would we ever give up on passing voting rights, women’s right to choose, or immigration reform? NO! Progress can be made, and the Equality Act can get passed, even with Republicans in control.
In 2014, marriage equality happened in Pennsylvania a year before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for it, and it happened under a Republican Governor who, when lobbied, did not appeal the case. When Republicans controlled all three levels of the state government they voted to aid the building of The John C,. Anderson LGBT Senior Affordable apartments; lobbying worked then too. There are always ways to get the work done. Not knowing how to answer what should be a simple question shows a lack of judgment and a lack of understanding of the legislative process.
When answering the same question, Jonathan Lovitz stated that one way to get the Equality Act passed with a Republican legislature is through the help of the Governor by holding up the budget until Republicans put the bill up for a vote. That is what Ed Rendell did to get his favored legislation, legalized gaming, passed in Harrisburg. That is the actual way to pass the Equality Act, since a majority of the state legislature supports it. The votes are there; the bill is just tied up in committee by the Republican leadership. What it takes is what Ed Rendell did: negotiation. Rendell had strong Republican opposition similar to the Equality Act. And that meant doing the hard work with other legislators to forge a deal, not yelling on the floor or simply giving up as Brian Sims did. That perseverance is the work of a legislator. Democratic nominee for governor Josh Shapiro understands that, and Lovitz has already done that with economic and LGBT rights in numerous states and in four counties in Pennsylvania. That is what is called being ready on day one.
Josh Shapiro is on the same page and has promised to pass the Equality Act in his first term; shouldn’t the LGBT candidate at least give support to the idea of passing the Equality Act? But of more importance is the sloppiness of Alvarez’s campaign in handling her official state documents (including campaign finance documents) and the mean-spirited Twitter trolls she and her campaign surrounds themselves with. Would we want such unprofessional people running an elected official’s office and representing the Gayborhood in Harrisburg?
In the endorsement race, while Alvarez has among her endorsements the local teamsters and Democratic City Chairman Bob Brady, Lovitz has former Governor Ed Rendell, Local AFL-CIO and State AFL-CIO, AFSCME DC 33, Ryan Boyer and the Laborers’ District Council, and The Philadelphia Musician’ Union: Local 77. While they are both good on the issues, Lovitz’s list of endorsements is overwhelming.
If we look at fundraising, which shows support for a candidate and how good a campaign is being run. Lovitz out-raised Alvarez five to one.
Among other issues that the district cares about is business growth, since the 182nd is home to more businesses than any other district in the state. On that issue alone Lovitz’s career stands tall as he has helped small and large businesses for many years. And when it comes to understanding how to write, lobby for, and pass legislation, he’s done it and is ready on day one there.
Alvarez has many great qualities, and this paper has been supportive of her work and campaigns, from her “Home for Hope,” which has helped countless homeless LGBTQ people, to her 2019 run for City Council where she came in 10th.
If you want, as Deja states, “to make history by electing the first Latina Trans woman to the legislature,” and if you want to elect Brian Sims’ hand picked replacement, vote for Deja Alvarez. But if you want to pass the Equality Act, fight gun violence, spur economic growth, stop the yelling and antics in Harrisburg and return to a process of open communication, there’s only one candidate that has that kind of experience on day one, and that’s Jonathan Lovitz. PGN is proud to endorse Jonathan Lovitz for State Representative of the 182nd District.