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August 23rd Ups & Downs

Another special election takes place, anti-pipeline activists talk to Gov. Tom Wolf, and Pennsylvania’s community colleges come under scrutiny. All of that and more are in this week’s Ups and Downs. 

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David Rowe. The seat was expected to stay red, but it became official this week when Republican David Rowe bested Democrat Dr. Jennifer Rager-Kay and write-in candidate Clair Moyer, a registered Republican, in the special election in the state’s 85th House District, replacing former state Rep. Fred Keller (R-Lycoming), who is now serving in Congress. Rowe captured 62% of the vote, while Rager-Kay received 37%. Rowe didn’t win by as large of a margin as Keller did against Rager-Kay in 2018, but now represents the ruby red district in Susquehanna River Valley.

Anti-pipeline Activists. Opponents to Sunoco’s Mariner East pipelines have been vocal for awhile in their opposition to the construction of the project in the Philadelphia suburbs. This week, the activists had a chance to speak face-to-face to Gov. Tom Wolf in Chester County, but the answers they heard from the Governor is not what they were hoping to hear. StateImpactPA reports that Wolf told the anti-pipeline activists on Thursday that he is not going to stop construction or operation of the pipeline, which an organizer of the event said was the first time Wolf said on the record he would not shut down the pipeline due to safety concerns. 

Bill Scott. A longtime Democrat serving on West Chester Borough’s Council has received calls to resign this week after making racist remarks to a cast member of a popular play about local history, according to the Daily Local News. The Council voted 6-0, with Scott abstaining, to have the borough solicitor prepare a resolution of censure. The Daily Local News reports that Scott reportedly made a comment about the “comparatively light shade of her skin” and also used the word “negro”. Scott, who has a “history of work in the borough involving civil rights”, has apologized for the comments, but said he would not resign. 

Joe Torsella. The PA Treasury Twitter account has quickly developed quite a following for Pennsylvania politicos since its creation in June. The York Dispatch credits the success of the account for it’s tweets on “humor, offbeat news commentary and plenty of sports tweets.” As a result, a spokesperson from the office told the York Dispatch that since the Twitter account launched that traffic on the Pennsylvania Treasury’s official website has increased 250%. While Torsella is approaching a decision to seek reelection in 2020, the Philadelphia Inquirer in December placed him as one of the Democratic ‘row office’ holders on a “collision course” for either Governor or Senate in the 2022 election. That’s still years away and Torsella told the Inquirer that “if a week is a lifetime in politics then 2022 is like 16,000 years away” and added that he’s enjoying his current job. The good news for the Pennsylvania Treasurer is that the Twitter account has resulted in a significant increase for the state treasury’s website traffic and the creation of the #JoeTorsellaHive.

John DiSanto. The GOP state Senator from Dauphin County owes some money on school, county, and/or municipal property taxes according to PennLive. DiSanto and his brother, Mark, owe more than $14,000 in unpaid property tax bills which resulted in the property appearing on a tax sale list. DiSanto’s chief of staff, Charles Erdman, indicated to PennLive that the Senator will pay the back taxes. 

PA Community Colleges. Community colleges are supposed to be affordable and efficient, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in Pennsylvania. PhillyVoice detailed a recent WalletHub report that shows Pennsylvania ranked dead last out of 42 states featured based on both “individual community colleges,” that include “cost and financing, career outcomes, and education outcomes.” The Philadelphia Public School Notebook also dove into this topic this week reporting that Pennsylvania has a much higher average tuition rate compared to the rest of the nation and higher than each of its border states. That story also added that the state did not increase funding for the operating budgets of community colleges in the most recent budget. 

F.P. Kimberly McFadden. Northampton County’s first female judge announced her plans to retire in November after serving 31 years. She was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas in 1988 and elected to a full ten-year term in 1989 and was most recently retained by the voters in 2009. McFadden said to Lehigh Valley Live that there were good time and bad times, but she enjoyed every minute of it. 


Mark Scolforo, from the Associated Press, delivers the tweet of the week. 

3 Responses

  1. GOP State Senator being behind in paying school, county and or municipal taxes as noted in the article on this post via Pennlive is not helpful as many school districts are sending out their tax bills this time of year.

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