What office are you seeking?
State Representative 175th District
I am the State Representative for the 175th District and I am running for my first re-election. I live in Northern Liberties with my husband, two children and my dog. I serve on the Education, Environmental Resources and Energy, Liquor and Urban Affairs committees. I have spent my first term working on education funding and stemming the expansion of charter schools, preventing lead poisoning that is taking place across the Commonwealth, fighting against the climate crisis deniers, tackling the opioid crisis and advocating for women's rights including reproductive access and equal pay, as well as fighting against discrimination in the workplace. I am working to pass the non-discrimination law to protect the LGBTQIA community and I also focus efforts to increase gun control in this Commonwealth. Finally, as an animal lover, I am working to stem the abuses in puppy mills across this Commonwealth. Outside of legislation, I am also committed to bringing state money home for developing the Waterfront as well as improving transportation infrastructure and parks and recreation. Some of my most recently received grants include funding for a trail along the river as well improvements to Independence Mall and increased pedestrian safety initiatives at Reading Terminal Market.
Some of Philadelphia’s most dangerous streets for pedestrians and cyclists based on injury statistics are PennDOT-owned arterials, many of which are major downtown streets and commercial corridors running through densely-populated parts of Philadelphia. So far, PennDOT has been indifferent to calls from safety advocates for the kinds of engineering changes to these roads that would calm traffic. Would you use your position to support advocates' calls for safer urban arterials? What types of legislative and policy changes are needed to correct this problem at PennDOT? (https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/philadelphia-traffic-fatalities-penndot-20190208.html)
Yes, I would and do use my position to support advocates' calls for safer urban arterials as pedestrian and cyclist safety is a daily quality of life issue that faces my District. I was proud to support HB 792 to create Protected Pedestrian Plazas and Pedalcycle Lanes. Also, I have worked with PennDOT to advocate for funding to the City Streets department to implement VisionZero plans. On the state policy level, I am committed to implementing more speed cameras and CCTV, gaining local control of speed limits within the City, transforming curb cut lines, and better training our Police Department on Vision Zero initiatives. I am also engaged in exploring various funding models to improve infrastructure and transit systems.
Pennsylvania recently passed legislation enabling automated speed enforcement on Roosevelt Blvd and highway work zones. Do you support the expansion of automated speed enforcement cameras to School Zones and on other High Injury Network streets throughout Philadelphia? (https://whyy.org/articles/roosevelt-boulevard-speed-cameras-represent-rare-bipartisan-win/)
Automated speed enforcement cameras have been proven to slow traffic, reduce crashes and accidents, and save lives while on the road. They also increase accountability and transform driver behavior.
Pennsylvania is the only state in the U.S. that bans local law enforcement from using radar for vehicle speed enforcement. Do you support lifting this ban? (https://www.pennlive.com/news/2019/06/is-2019-the-year-local-cops-in-pa-will-get-radar.html)
I was proud to support this bill in the House.
Do you support state enabling legislation to allow Philadelphia and other cities to use cameras for congestion-related enforcement? Areas that should be enforced by camera include bus zones, travel lanes, corner clearances, crosswalks, delivery zones, and non-curb pickups and drop-offs by ride-hailing drivers. Currently, the law allows for enforcement only upon the observation of an officer. Cameras allow a more cost-efficient alternative and are less subject to human and systemic biases. (https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/traffic-congestion-philadelphia-parking-tickets-ppa-20191211.html)
Act 89 transportation funds have historically been diverted to pay the state police budget, reducing the funds available to pay for public transit and road projects. What is the best way to safeguard this revenue to ensure that Commonwealth residents see all the transportation improvements they were promised when state lawmakers raised the gas tax? (https://www.penncapital-star.com/government-politics/can-you-pay-for-infrastructure-repairs-without-raising-state-taxes-in-new-plan-house-gop-says-yes/)
I support the Governor's call for local municipalities who do not have a dedicated police force pay to support funding the state police which they rely on for their local law enforcement which would in turn better ensure all funds collected are used to fund public transportation and infrastructure.
What are some of your own ideas for enhancing mobility and improving road safety in your district and Philadelphia more broadly?
As my District grows in density and more commercial corridors, recreation areas and attractions are added, many of the streetscapes and original planning need to be updated and improved. In many neighborhoods in the District, certain intersections were constructed before many of the current structures existed, making the area unsafe for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists due to increased congestion, poor engineering, and lack of signage and signals. Further, additional protected bike lanes, speed bumps, and other traffic calming measures need to be added not only where they are requested and desired, but in areas in which safety is of concern.
Act 44, which transfers $450 million a year from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to public transit agencies, is set to expire in 2022. What is your plan to safeguard and expand the state revenue dedicated to public transit after this law expires? (https://wskg.org/news/pa-turnpike-escapes-catastrophic-lawsuit-but-remains-heavily-in-debt/)
Transportation funding for the Commonwealth is going to be on the forefront next session. From general operating funds to bridge and roadway repairs and expansion to public transportation funding, the general assembly needs to take bold action. We need to make long term investments, ensure the funding is in place to do so, and create a sustainable plan that takes in account the changing landscape of transit and ridership. I am invested in looking into creating bonds for mass transit as well as moving towards transit oriented development and districts on a statewide level. Additionally, I would like to ensure that all modes of transportation are investing into the infrastructure and would like to implement a fee or surcharge on TNC rides that would go directly to public transportation.
Do you support dedicated transit lanes and legislation enabling “Automated Transit Lane Enforcement” cameras mounted on transit vehicles and on roadsides to deter other vehicles from using these lanes? (https://mobilitylab.org/2018/09/17/automated-bus-lane-enforcement-is-more-effective-than-police-among-other-findings/)
Do you support state enabling legislation for congestion pricing, permitting municipalities and regions to institute tolls on automobiles entering into the most congested areas, and using the funds for improvements to transit, and for infrastructure for walking and bicycling? (https://www.inquirer.com/transportation/congestion-pricing-new-york-philadelphia-traffic-20190402.html)
Yes, I support congestion pricing as I truly believe that these types of models do transform motorist behavior and would encourage more people to use public transportation. I am interested in seeing some models implemented first as well as a public information campaign to inform everyone of the new pricing and tolls as well as solicit feedback for the areas impacted.
SEPTA has the capability to expand its rapid transit service by simply running its commuter rail lines more frequently and integrating its fares with subways and buses. But to do so, the agency will need to prioritize certain capital improvements and implement some operational reforms. Do you support such an expansion for our city's train service? (https://whyy.org/articles/analysis-how-septa-can-turn-regional-rail-in-philly-into-high-frequency-rapid-transit/)
As a legislator, how would you use the power of your office to advance those changes, instead of retaining the current structure which caters more to professional-class suburban commuters?
While the region needs to succeed together in collaboration with PennDOT, the City, SEPTA, and users, I will continue to use my position to advocate for increased funding in infrastructure and fleet services as well as a transformation of current routes and accessibility. In some neighborhoods in the City, a person has to take three different forms of transportation with wait times in between to get to their destination which discourages them from using public transportation and those are the studies I am most interested in taking action on.
What are some of your own ideas for solutions to improve the quality (frequency, speed, and accessibility) of transit service in your district and Philadelphia more broadly?
My job is to respond to the needs and concerns of constituents throughout the District, using their feedback and experiences as a guide to both implement legislation and policy or reach out to a Department for a requested change or safety concern. In coordination with City departments and Councilmembers, I often put in requests for traffic studies and traffic calming measures as well as request meetings for future planning.
California’s legislature recently introduced a pro-housing bill SB 50, which would preempt local zoning restrictions on dense housing construction near high-quality transit, and in high-opportunity areas with large concentrations of jobs or in-demand school districts. Similar bills have also been introduced by progressive lawmakers in Oregon, Washington, Maryland, and Virginia to preempt local exclusionary zoning policies like apartment bans, parking quotas, and minimum lot size rules from the state level. Do you support amending Pennsylvania’s Municipal Planning Code to preempt local exclusionary zoning policies in this way, with the goal of allowing transit-oriented housing near state-funded transit and commuter rail stations? (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/01/sb50-california/604786/)
Absolutely. To me, it is imperative that we encourage density around transit stations if we are to truly encourage more people to take public transportation and the City has already started to push more towards transit-oriented districts.
The century-old Separations Act requires multiple bids for all different parts of public construction projects in Pennsylvania, which some state officials believe makes public works projects unnecessarily expensive and inefficient, and precluding Design-Build firms from bidding on public construction projects. Will you support and advocate for repeal of the Separations Act? (https://www.yorkdispatch.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/03/07/oped-s-time-repeal-separations-act-pa/98857412/)
The organized labor fight in Harrisburg is a constant struggle. The Republican majority is constantly attacking workers' rights and family sustaining wages in Pennsylvania. While I would be supportive of improving the process and opening it up to be more inclusive and competitive, I would be hesitant to repeal a law that helps protect the labor movement in Pennsylvania.
Governor Tom Wolf has announced his intentions for Pennsylvania to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative—a regional cap and trade program that could push PA to cut emissions more aggressively, while generating revenue for public transit, clean energy, and other priorities. Joining RGGI would likely require an act of the state legislature, and different interest groups within the Democratic Party have taken different positions on this, with some building trades unions on one side and environmental groups on the other. If elected, would you support legislation to join RGGI?(https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2019/10/03/gov-wolf-pennsylvania-regional-greenhouse-gas-initiative/)
I am supportive of the RGGI and would like to stress that green jobs are blue jobs, and that many of the clean energy and transit initiatives that fall within this plan will actually add to the building trades unions with proper training and development.
Tell us more about what you bring to the table as an ally for urbanist politics in Harrisburg. What makes you the right person to advance the urbanist movement’s goals politically or substantively at the state level? How would you build support for pro-urbanist policies among your colleagues from outside our region?
As a member of the Urban Affairs Committee, I have the opportunity to shape policy for all urban areas around the Commonwealth. My district is one of the economic engines of the Commonwealth and one of the most dense geographically. I bring a unique perspective to the discussion in Harrisburg and I am able to advocate for the issues we face that are different than those in more suburban or rural areas. In my freshman year, I have passed two bills out of committee and formed strong relationships within my own delegation, but also across the aisle. Pro-urbanist policies are an urban affairs issue. Pro-urbanist policies are an environmental issue. Pro-urbanist policies are also a social justice and economic development issue. And I am committed to sustaining and growing a coalition that cares about all of these issues as well as the future of the Commonwealth.