Ah, the scent of heavily discounted, heart-shaped chocolate fills the air and just makes us wanna jump around. We can also take the time to acknowledge that along with Valentine's day comes V Day to end violence against women and a historic federal success for survivors in the same week that the Reading City HR director was fired for reporting sexual harassment at the city level. We know that it can be difficult to hold elected officials accountable when we work so hard to get them into office, but making sure that our needs are met and our community can thrive comes before any allegiance to a candidate. Remember, it was never about the candidate. It was always about the movement.
Election time… or is it?
Last week, due to delays in deciding on a new federal map for Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court formally decided to suspend the timeline for the 2022 Primary Election. The period to gather petition signatures to get on the ballot was supposed to have started on February 15th, but now the timeline is unknown. With the calendar suspended and decision makers heaving a collective shrug, it’s possible (or even likely) that the May 17th election date will also be pushed back. You can still make sure you’re registered to vote or apply for a mail-in ballot here!
Reclaim Philadelphia announced their endorsements for State House and State Senate candidates for the 2022 election cycle. After six years of high profile work in Philadelphia, the Reclaim endorsement is so coveted that candidates who didn’t receive the endorsement whined about it to reporters at the Philadelphia Inquirer. It’s another example of holding elected officials accountable for their actions and votes, even if they were supported by our members in the past.
Northampton County Commissioner Tara Zrinski has announced her campaign for the Pennsylvania State Senate in the newly redrawn 14th Senate District. Zrinski ran for State House in 2020 with the endorsement of Lehigh Valley Stands Up and planned to run again for State House in 2022 – until redistricting upended her plans. The 14th State Senate District is currently occupied by Independent Senator John Yudichak, who no longer lives in the district. Tara’s not the only candidate that’s gonna be looking for volunteers at the last minute though. As soon as the PA Supremes decide to lift the suspension, it’s gonna be a tight turnaround to get the needed signatures.
In other news made more confusing by recent state redistricting, House District 96 in Lancaster was originally going to be the district for Izzy Smith Wade-El to run against incumbent Mike Sturla. With the new maps, Smith Wade-El moved to District 49 and Dana Hemp Gulick will now run against Sturla. Lancaster Stands Up will hold another virtual candidate forum on Feb 26th and then begin the endorsement process. Remember, to get involved with your local chapter as a member in order to have a vote!
A People’s Budget for Harrisburg
Harrisburg City council voted to approve the 2022 (yes, you read that right) budget presented by Mayor Wanda Williams on Tuesday, Feb 15. It was a bumpy road for City Council who were presented with several different budget proposals over two weeks without public input. Despite the confusing path towards a budget, for the first time, Council was inviting and receptive to feedback from the public about the budget. Local activists made line item demands and with continued public pressure until many of those demands were met. Most notably was the removal of $800k in funding for a police command van and a $56k reduction in advertising funds for HPD. Council also amended the budget to remove five vacant Community Service Aide positions within HPD further preventing them from asking for ARPA funds to fill those roles. While the approved budget does use about $8.8 M of ARPA funds to replace lost revenue, the city still has about $40M still to use and public forums on how to spend it start this week.
Energy Justice for Philadelphians
Philadelphia City Council held a hearing about the future of Philly Gas Works on Feb 9th, with testimonies by PGW and City officials, and by leaders from POWER, Philly DSA, Community Legal Services, and lots of environmental groups. Council Member Helen Gym grilled the President of PGW during the hearing, and she posted this twitter thread. She says we need to “ensure our communities have the energy they need at affordable rates. Protecting our residents’ health. Ending our fossil fuel dependency. Ensuring labor isn’t left behind. We must reject the false choice that only some of these are possible.”
White Supremacists gaining ground in PA
On a sour note, white supremacists are actively recruiting in Lancaster County and beyond. They’re becoming much more open about their meeting places as the ripples from the 2020 election settle and the crowded gubernatorial election begins. Because many of our chapters are hybrids of urban and rural areas, it’s not the first time we’ve seen active groups that want to pop our democracy in a woodchipper. If we’re going to combat these threats, the best way to do it is by talking to our neighbors. Find an organizer in your area and get involved!