Jason Landau Goodman announces run for state rep

Jason Landau Goodman wears a dark suit and pink scarf. They are light-skinned with short, dark hair. They stand with arms crossed in front of Lower Merion High School in Ardmore.
Jason Landau Goodman in front of Lower Merion High School in Ardmore.

At the end of last year, Jason Landau Goodman — a fourth generation resident of Lower Merion Township — found a litter of kittens in their backyard and rescued them from the encroaching cold weather. They hadn’t ever cared for pets before — but that didn’t stop them from figuring out how to step up when they were needed.

That same willingness to learn as they go led Landau Goodman, who is just 34 years old, to public service as a teen 15 years ago. Now, they’re running for state representative of the 148th House District in Pennsylvania — which represents part of Lower Merion as well as Narberth and White Marsh Township.

“It’s very clear to me that to have compassion for others and seek justice should be fundamental to our human experience — and with my Jewish upbringing, attending a Quaker school, being a serious student of the civil rights movement and human rights activists, I felt very determined to put the love I have for my community into action,” they said. “That’s just who I’ve always been, and who I will continue to be.”

In 2009, Landau Goodman realized LGBTQ+ people continue to face legal discrimination in Pennsylvania due to a lack of statewide protections. Without any political experience, they spent two years organizing with community members and civic leaders to pass the first LGBTQ+ inclusive non-discrimination ordinance in Montgomery County. It was the first time a law of its kind was passed outside a major city in Pennsylvania.

“I was always determined to help make my community a better place for all people,” they said. “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh had laws, so why couldn’t my suburban community?”

“LGBTQ folks — especially younger LGBTQ folks — leave the suburbs and leave their rural communities to experience life in a city where there’s more visibility and more visible LGBTQ community engagement,” Landau Goodman continued. “But this is my home community. I didn’t want to leave it. I couldn’t imagine not having my life in my home community where my family and friends are.”

Their work in Montgomery County inspired a movement that has since led to the passage of at least 73 nondiscrimination laws across the state. In 2011, Landau Goodman partnered with other LGBTQ+ youth to co-found the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, an organization dedicated to ensuring queer youth “have a seat at the table,” they said.

“We’ve been able to advance a number of successes, and it’s been an incredible honor to have been able to be in that position to move things forward,” they said. “But again, that showed me the importance of having people in the seats who are working directly with the leadership and working with the administration to get things done.”

“I’m very focused on deliverables — both in terms of legislation and policies as well as projects in our community,” they said about their current plans both for Harrisburg and at the local level.

“What I bring to the table is an ability to bring people together to identify solutions,” they explained. “What can we work on now? What can we get to the governor’s desk tomorrow, and how do we keep focused on delivering on the actions that need to take place in our communities as well?”

“We have an extensive agenda for LGBT policy in Harrisburg,” explained Landau Goodman, who identifies as queer, genderqueer and gay. “I’ve been intimately involved in designing those efforts and helping advocate for them for over a decade.”

“I would be very involved in helping work with legislators across the aisle and in both chambers to get bills to the governor’s desk to help Pennsylvanians today,” they added, noting that relationships they’ve built in Harrisburg over the past 15 years would help them be a successful representative. “We shouldn’t have to wait two more years after two more years to have the conversations we need inside the legislature to deliver on LGBTQ rights.”

As an environmental attorney for the Department of Environmental Protection, Landau Goodman also understands climate change. They aim to help communities transition away from fossil fuel reliance by supporting efforts to move toward renewable energy sources — such as solar. They also hope to implement resources that will make recycling easier and champion legislation that would hold companies responsible for pollution.

They’re similarly passionate about other justice issues — including reproductive rights, mental health concerns, gun violence and systemic racism. As someone whose own journey in leadership began as a young person, they hope to promote equity and safety in the classrooms.

“I would be, if elected, the only Jewish lawmaker from Montgomery County,” they added. “Part of my education vision is advancing legislation that would require Holocaust and genocide education in Pennsylvania public schools.”

“With a renewed interest in combating antisemitism and hate in all its forms, it will be very important to me to help advance that legislation,” they explained. “There are certain bills like that one which I believe are bridge-building opportunities — where we can get something done. And if I’m in the legislature, I will put my hands to the plow to get it done.”

At the local level, Landau Goodman’s priorities include improving infrastructure and supporting bridge projects, revitalizing Bala Avenue, and protecting accessible public transportation.

“A state rep can be very involved in identifying grants and helping be an advocate for the neighborhood,” they said.

They also hope to remain highly engaged with constituents and provide services that are relevant to the community. For instance, they want to plan and attend marches, host both online and in-person forums and town halls, educate about the importance of specific rights and resources, and truly become a resource to the people of the district.

Landau Goodman believes state representatives should be in close partnership with the communities they serve — that a person holding the position should “work tirelessly for their communities as partners and as friends” and be someone “who you know how to reach and who responds day or night,” they explained, underlining that accessibility is key to ensuring the needs and concerns of the district’s people are attended to.

“I’m so proud of the values we have across the district for inclusion and respect and being engaged in what’s going on,” they said, explaining that they’re excited by local interest in engaging with the government and its legislative processes. “I really appreciate how many people are aware of what’s happening locally in Harrisburg and around the world.”

“We want to see not just the issues talked about but actually advancing,” they said. “Our values need to be put into action towards delivering on policy.”

To learn more about Jason Landau Goodman, visit landaugoodman.com.

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