What office are you seeking?
I was the first person in my family to go to college. I went to Ursinus College—close to home—near my family. After college, I worked in immigration law. The best part of the job was getting a phone call or excited email that a family had arrived and was settled in the United States. I saw the way the law could so vastly impact and improve the lives of individuals and families. That is when I knew I wanted to go to law school.
I went to Temple Law School and then clerked on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. I spent most of my legal career working at a woman-owned law firm. As a full-time attorney, I volunteered on five non-profit boards, such as NLC, a national progressive training organization which is building a pipeline of progressive leaders in Philadelphia, and Philasoup, which gives microgrants to Philadelphia school teachers to fund innovative classroom projects.
I am running for office because I deeply care about people. I believe the government should listen to what people need and then act to make their lives better and happier, and be held accountable if it doesn’t. That is not happening in the 175th District, and I know that we deserve better.
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)
For example, Mayor Kenney’s office has started the work of implementing protected bike lanes, but in order to provide a safe travel experience to Philadelphia’s numerous cyclists we need to do more. Protected bike paths cause a drop in crashes between cars and cyclists. When implemented they also narrow the road, causing drivers to be more cautious in transit.
The city’s broader Vision Zero Action Plan will do a great deal to make Philadelphia’s road system safer. I believe some form of the plan should be implemented across the Commonwealth in other large towns and cities. It is a fact that when people are driving slower, crashes are fatal less often. It is a fact that protected bike lanes save cyclists. If we know that creating protected bike lanes in the city or forming slow zones near high congestion areas will save lives, why are we being meek in their rollout?
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/)
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)
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/)
Until then, we have to spend the funds we do have well. By focusing infrastructure funding towards efficient projects like transit, walking, and cycling related policies, we are preparing for a more accessible future. Instead of wasting funding on highway expansion and other unsuccessful methods to decrease congestion, we need to invest further into public transportation and road safety.
What are some of your own ideas for enhancing mobility and improving road safety in your district and Philadelphia more broadly?
These policies would immediately start saving lives and improve quality of life across the Commonwealth. The problem is that there is a shortage of funding for these policies. By investing in infrastructure now, we would be saving massive amounts of future taxpayer dollars, avoiding temporary band-aid fixes that often end up doing more harm than good.
In District, I look forward to the potential reinstatement of the Route 15 Trolley, but I believe that we need to go further in modernizing the vehicles and route to make the road safer and the transit more accessible. By updating these systems now, we would be taking advantage of the temporary bus replacement and ensuring that our infrastructure continually progresses.
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/)
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)
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?
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?
Once elected, I will fight to expand funding towards public transportation. By investing in transportation, we can improve the system in both scope and quality. Advocates across the state have been doing this work for decades, and I intend to work with them closely as State Representative.
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/)
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/)
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/)
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?
When it comes down to it, I am running for office because I deeply care about people, and see elected office as a way to implement change and improve the lives of folks in Philadelphia and across the Commonwealth. The implementation of pro-urbanist policies such as expanded, efficient, and accessible public transit, safer roads, et al. line up with this desire of mine to help people. Once elected, I intend to be a vocal advocate for these policies, both here in Philadelphia and across the Commonwealth.