Making Progress Happen
I’ve lived in Allegheny County for my entire life, and I see our council failing to address the threats to our livelihood. Whether it be dirty air, undrinkable water, or an ineffective criminal justice system, we can do so much better. Instead of publicly discussing ways to fix these problems, council spends the majority of its public meeting time handing out “congratulatory proclamations”. We need to make progress happen. Here are my positions on how we can make our county a more livable place for everyone:
We need stronger transparency laws to make sure government officials can’t run out the clock to keep time-sensitive documents secret. County Council has routinely violated the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, a government transparency law, by carrying out secret meetings that are required to be public. If elected, I will make sure the public is not kept in the dark about the contents of these meetings. In addition, I believe the Amazon HQ2 bid should never have been kept secret -- the public deserves to know when billions of our taxpayer dollars are being offered to a wealthy corporation.
Every Allegheny County resident deserves clean air. By using our Clean Air Fund, we can make that a reality. We can’t just waste our limited resources on things like office renovations. - especially when children in the Mon Valley can’t play outside because of the poor air quality. Dirty air also substantially increases the cancer risk in predominantly POC communities.
Clean Air funds should go toward actual clean air initiatives, whether they be as small as tax breaks for those who plant trees or as impactful as solarizing our airport.
Every Allegheny County resident also deserves clean water, and it’s our government’s duty to make sure everybody has access to safe drinking water. It’s also our government’s duty to protect our natural resources and water table from the dangers of fracking. My opponent voted in favor of drilling at one of our county parks. We should focus on preserving these parks instead - it only takes one accident to ruin them forever.
Transit Access & Fair Fares
Transit access isn’t only important to riders, but also to the health of the region’s economy. Multiple studies have shown, for example, that the unemployment level decreases as the quality of public transit increases. I support the “Fair Fares” initiative by Pittsburghers for Public Transit. We should eliminate the cash fare and transfer penalties while increasing access to fare-capping enabled CONNECT Cards. In addition, we must always remember that a significant portion of our area relies on public transit to get to work. The main purpose of our Port Authority is to help people get to where they need to go. It’s not about maximizing profits.
Criminal Justice Reform
As your councilwoman, I will work to ensure that Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate legislation does not overlook the residents of our county. I will fight to make sure that the proper oversight mechanisms are implemented so that no Allegheny County resident misses out on the benefits of the initiative. I will also support initiatives to reduce our county’s inordinately long probation sentences, which tend to be longer than those in most other Pennsylvania counties.
Our County Jail
The county jail is an embarrassment to Allegheny County. Many people in the county jail only there because of inequitable cash bail policies. Warden Harper has failed again and again when it comes to preventing sexual harassment, assault, and rape in the jail, including rape perpetrated by his own staff. Because of his inaction, our jail has had one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. The county jail is over two years overdue to prove its compliance with standards of the Prison Rape Elimination Act. This is completely unacceptable. This is inhumane. This is our local jail, and we must fix it.
The county jail’s misinformed housing policies also house trans women with men. As a result, these women are raped and sexually assaulted inside the jail by other incarcerated individuals. This must change. In addition, the jail must also comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act and eliminate sexual assault in our jail.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
Antwon Rose and many others are dead because our local governments have failed to address the systemic oppression and violence that results in the murders of people of color (POC). I support a county civilian police review board, and we need to make sure it has mechanisms to enact changes that stop these deaths. There needs to be thorough oversight of anyone who is walking around with a gun and a badge. Black lives DO matter, and it’s time for county council to make protecting black lives a priority.
I will push for our County Solicitor to investigate how we can strengthen non-discrimination policies in Allegheny County. Specifically, we should explore how we can make sure that the businesses and developers that receive taxpayer dollars enact the strongest internal policies to protect and support the LGBTQIA+ community.
When it comes to bathroom policies, it’s pretty simple -- Use whatever bathroom you want and always wash your hands.
Yes, I mean UPMC and Highmark. It is absurd that they claim to be “nonprofits” while at the same time putting profits over people. We need bold leadership that is unafraid to call out these organizations and threaten their tax-exempt status in order to make sure Allegheny County residents receive the quality care we deserve.
A Living Wage
Although County Council cannot raise the minimum wage for all Allegheny County residents, it should pass living wage legislation ensuring that all county employees and employees of businesses who receive taxpayer dollars provide a living wage for their employees. Right now, that’s $10.34 for a single adult. Over time, we need to bring that up to $15 an hour and index it to inflation. There can be exemptions for small businesses, though no employee of a wealthy corporation should ever have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet. You can read more about living wage calculations for Allegheny County here: http://livingwage.mit.edu/counties/42003
A Strategy for Our Economic Future
Giving Amazon $10 billion dollars in incentives would have helped nobody but Jeff Bezos, and our county government wasted what must have been thousands of dollars on multiple lawsuits designed to keep the Amazon HQ2 proposal a secret. We should be focused on providing resources and tax incentives to our small businesses instead, and investing in a transit infrastructure so that people can get to those businesses. We should do everything we can to support them. They have already chosen to make Pittsburgh their home and are the backbone of our economy. We should be investing in a transit infrastructure so that people can get to those businesses. We should be doing everything we can to advocate for and support those businesses, especially when Trump’s immigration policies are hurting them.
The county should explore steps it can take to follow the City of Pittsburgh’s lead in decriminalizing marijuana. Though the county does not have the authority to legalize and regulate marijuana, it should examine options to adapt and modify legislation passed by Pittsburgh’s City Council so that we’re not arresting people who pose no threat to the community.
On John McIntyre’s radio show, I’ve made my positions on gun safety clear multiple times. Though I’m not a gun owner, I don’t want to “take away everyone's guns”. In fact, I work as an office administrator at INPAX Academy of Personal Protection. In addition to self-defense classes, it also offers firearm training and a practice range for gun owners to learn how to safely and responsibly discharge their weapon. I support responsible gun ownership, and that means supporting stricter gun safety laws, including but not limited to:
eliminating bump stocks and binary triggers, or anything that modifies a firearm to make it fire more quickly
required firearm safety training (similar to driver’s tests)
universal background checks
In terms of security practices in our streets and public schools:
We should not have guns in our schools.
I do not support arming teachers with guns.
More guns are NOT the solution to gun violence.
Although County Council does not always have the authority to act on these issues, directly, I will push the state to act on them and make sure we do what we can to proactively prevent gun violence.