For the second time this year, Allegheny County voters will determine which party holds the majority in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Democrat Lindsay Powell and Republican Erin Connolly Autenreith will meet in a special election on Tuesday for the 21st District House seat vacated by Sara Innamorato.
Powell, a resident of Lawrenceville, works at the nonprofit InnovatePGH and serves on the board of the Urban Redevelopment Authority as their representative on the ballot. Autenreith is a realtor who chairs the local Republican Party committee in Shaler Township.
Powell would be the first Black woman to represent the 21st District, which is nearly 90 percent white. And her election would restore some racial diversity to a county delegation that lost two Black representatives when special elections were held to replace former House members Summer Lee and Austin Davis.
Autenreith said she supports former President Donald Trump and said she attended Trump’s speech in Washington, DC, on Jan. 6, 2021, before the attack on the US Capitol. Autenreith said that she only learned of the violence as her group was returning to Pittsburgh and was disappointed to see it.
With a 57-26% advantage in voter registration in the District, it will be a tough climb for Autenreith and Republicans to claim the seat and a majority in the state House. The chamber currently sits at a 101-101 tie and is not presently scheduled to return to session until September 26.
It typically take 2-3 weeks for an election to be certified, so it is unlikely the winner will be seated until early October.
Housing – Every Pittsburgher should have access to safe and dignified housing. We must invest in building new and rehabbing existing housing to expand the city’s housing stock and create a city affordable to all.
Working Families – Families across our districts are worried about keeping their heads above water and making sure that their children have a bright future ahead of them. I believe without addressing rising childcare costs, healthcare reform and addressing student debt, we are failing families in our community.
Jobs & the Economy – Our local economy is fueled by small businesses, entrepreneurs and workers. Pennsylvania needs to protect its workers by raising the minimum wage and making it easier to start and grow businesses in our district.
Community Assets – Our community deserves beautiful and accessible spaces to enjoy. We need more active recreation centers, expanded resources for libraries, walkable green spaces, and investments in critical infrastructure.
Gun Violence – I vow to stand up for our communities to ensure that we put an end to gun violence, and put laws in place to protect all of us to make sure we feel and are safe in our neighborhoods, places of worship, schools, and everywhere in between.
Reproductive Rights – Although she is opposed to abortion, the right to abortion in Pennsylvania should be decided by voters in a referendum rather than the party in power.
Education – The state should provide more access to career and technical training to ensure that young people graduate from high school ready to work, she said, adding that creating job opportunities is the way for the government to provide “a hand up, not a hand out.”
School Vouchers – The state should give the parents the choice to send their children to private or religious schools using tax money and would support a voucher program such as the lifeline scholarships that Shapiro and Senate Republicans supported as part of the stalled state budget.
School Funding Formula – She would work to find solutions to fix the state’s school funding scheme, which a state court ruled unconstitutional this year because its reliance on property taxes leaves students in poor communities at a disadvantage. “The way it’s funded as on the backs of the homeowners, I don’t think that is correct,” adding that funding schools through a sales tax would be more equitable.
The 21st State House District is comprises parts of the city of Pittsburgh, the townships of Reserve and Shaler and the boroughs of Etna and Millvale.