On the campaign trail, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro has faced many difficult questions from voters and media alike.
On Sunday, he may have faced his toughest debater in Lancaster.
The Attorney General of Pennsylvania made a campaign stop in the Red Rose City, visiting a pair of southern district businesses – “Mr. Vic’s Family Styling” and “A Concrete Rose.”
Shapiro met with Jarrod “Pooh” Betts, owner and operator of Mr. Vic’s, and discussed ways that a governor could assist small businesses such as his. Betts annually holds a summer Customer Appreciation/Feed The City day in the community and provided 125 free backpacks to kids this summer. When asked why he would do this and spend that money, Betts responded that “I love my community that much. I love to see people smile and happy.”
“Barber shops and salons are staples of the community,” Betts added. “Everyone comes to a barber shop and leaves something.” Shapiro agreed, adding that he needs to talk with his barber about doing a “hot towel shave.”
Prior to leaving, Shapiro and Betts talked about basketball and LeBron James, before Betts shifted into talking football and his love for the Steelers. When Shapiro sought to stand up for the Eagles, Betts reminded him that Pittsburgh has had three coaches in the last 50 years and six Super Bowl rings to just one for the Birds.
Shapiro also visited “A Concrete Rose,” which prides itself as the nation’s first bookstore/micro-winery/live entertainment venue, where he spoke with leaders of the Spanish American Civic Association (SACA).
“One of the things that makes our Commonwealth great is that every community – rural, suburban – they have a Main Street and Main Streets have a lot of challenges today,” said Shapiro. “These are the kinds of places (Mr. Vic’s, A Concrete Rose) I want to invest in.”
Izzy Smith-Wade-El, the Democratic candidate for the 49th state house seat, noted how important it was for Shapiro to be in Lancaster.
“This is a relationship that needs to go both ways,” said Smith-Wade-El. “This is a heavily Black, heavily Latino community that needs to be bought in to the organization of working for the whole Commonwealth. So, the government of the Commonwealth has to work for this community.”
He talked about more state investment in housing for cities.
“If we build a thriving community of new businesses here, we want to be sure that the people who live here can still afford to live here and take advantage of that.”
The Attorney General also talked about ways to improve education in city schools such as Lancaster, Harrisburg and Reading.
“Lancaster schools are great examples of how we need to invest more in the fair funding formula,” he said. “Too many school districts have been historically and chronically underfunded – urban and rural districts – and the more resources we can drive out through the fair funding formula, the better we can help these districts. I don’t want to just be a governor that writes a check to school districts. You have to make investments that are really meaningful.”
A former commissioner in Montgomery County before assuming the AG position, Shapiro helped oversee the MontCo Board of Elections and spoke of the challenges facing election workers today.
“As a county commissioner, and as Attorney General, I often repeated the same line which is my thanks and gratitude to the Republican, Democrat and Independent clerks that make our elections run,” he stated. “One of the reasons why I am able to say we had a free and fair, safe and secure election in 2020 is because of the tremendous work of those clerks on a bipartisan basis counting the votes – not withstanding the noise that was coming at them from the outside being led by my opponent. We have to work together on a bipartisan basis on some election reform to make their jobs easier, like permitting precanvassing the way you have in states like Florida and Ohio. It’s commonsense.”