Local Elections not to be overshadowed in 2020
October 19, 2020
From School Board to State Representative, Jonathan Kassa hopes to win a seat in Harrisburg this fall
LANSDALE – North Penn School Board member, challenger to Todd Stephens’ seat in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives, and candidate endorsed by Barack Obama, Jonathan Kassa is hoping to win the title of Pennsylvania’s State Representative of the 151st district.
“Todd Stephens has been selling us out for the last 10 years,” Kassa said at a local literature drop event about the current Republican seat holder. “It’s not just about Todd…this is about backbone, core principles, and accountability.”
Kassa’s focus revolves around public health, environmental safety, and education. As the chair of the facilities & operations and safe school committee for the North Penn School Board, he has been pushing for school safety reforms and public education funding during his years as chairman.
“I’ve learned inside and out how terrible Pennsylvania’s funding of public education is—that has really driven me to run. When you learn that Pennsylvania is 44th in the country in public education funding, all I want to do is fix that,” Kassa explained.
“Safe schools means more…it’s very important having an inclusive environment in which students, no matter their background or how they identify, have the ability to have more discussions,” he continued.
Not only was Kassa at the literature drop, but Congresswoman Madeleine Dean showed up to support him and his campaign. As the State Representative for Pennsylvania’s 5th congressional district, she gave her encouragement to him and his fellow Democrats.
“I will do everything I can to continue supporting [Kassa], and contributing to candidates like [him]. I have seen such a group of terrific candidates, and [he’s] among the best,” Dean said.
“There are two kinds of politicians that get to Harrisburg: there are those who get there because they really get comfortable in the trappings of it, and there are those who are just workers, and they care about the issues and have values you will be happy they served you on,” she said.
Dean also explained how this upcoming election could flip the house from a Republican majority to a Democratic majority. The Republicans have held the house for 26 years since 1994 and currently, the number of seats needed to flip the house is 9, one of those being Todd Stephens’.
“We need nine. Nine seats. So this seat, Stephens seat, will be no longer,” Dean said, “In the majority, the world of difference is you’ll have some control over the calendar… and the Democrats will have control.”
Kassa and Dean then discussed the federal government’s handle on national problems.
“One of the worst parts is what [President Trump] is doing in terms of our vote and the seeds of doubt that he is trying to sow every single day in the security of our vote; it is nothing short of historic voter suppression,” Dean said.
“When the books are written this will be like poll taxes, this will be like ‘count the beans in a jar’, this is active voter suppression and the scariest part is, it is coming from the president of the United States, aided and abetted by the Department of Justice and Attorney General Barr,” she added.
For ten years, both Democrats and Republicans alike have voted for Todd Stephens, and Kassa hopes to convince his party to reconsider voting for another Republican Representative.
“The issues we face are bipartisan. We need to get our priorities straight because the Republicans haven’t and they don’t deserve another ten years. This isn’t political when we’re talking about public health, the environment, public safety, gun safety,” Kassa said.
“This is how we win from the grassroots up,” Kassa said, “We flip the state house, we win the White House.”
State Representative Todd Stephens is looking forward to winning another 2 years in Harrisburg
LANSDALE – Pennsylvania State Representative Todd Stephens has held his seat for the past 10 years, and during these unprecedented times, hopes to keep it that way.
During his time as the State Representative for Pennsylvania’s 151st congressional district since 2010, Stephens has been working to improve education funding, making sure small businesses receive financial help during the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing gun violence, and ensuring clean water runs throughout his district.
“We’ve delivered the highest education funding in state history,” Stephens said, “But there’s still more work to be done to improve our schools, and to ensure that our schools have the resources they need to deal with COVID-19 and other issues that come down the road.”
On the topic of students returning to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stephens strongly supports having the option of in-person learning for all students.
“I don’t think any family should be forced to send their child back into schools, and I don’t think any staff members should be forced back in to schools,” Stephens said, “but in-person education should be available for every student… and school districts need to find a way to do that.”
As the father of two elementary school students, Stephens has strong opinions on how schools are handling their back to school plans, especially with the younger grades.
“You can’t teach a first grader to read online; it’s nearly impossible,” Stephens said.
Stephens has advocated heavily on the topic of gun control and looks forward to continuing his work past this election and into a 6th term.
“I hope to build on the success we’ve had with reducing gun violence. We moved the domestic violence gun violence bill last session, moved bills to improve background checks in previous sessions, and I’ve made bills to strengthen penalties for people who are illegally using guns,” Stephens said.
For 5 straight terms, Stephens has been re-elected by both Democratic and Republican voters alike.
“You can look at my voting record, look at my track record and my voters make an informed, educated decision about me as a person,” Stephens stated.
“I love the personal interaction, I love getting to know people. You build that relationship through 10 years and I miss that on a personal level,” he said, reflecting on how COVID-19 has prevented him from going door to door and talking with his voters.
“People want someone who gets things done, and that’s what I do.” Stephens ultimately said. “I am here to be the voice of our people and our community in Harrisburg.”
Stephens’ challenger, Jonathan Kassa, has stated that with Stephens’ seat, the Democrats could flip the house. Stephens does not agree.
“I don’t believe that the house is going to flip,” he said, “there are certainly seats that are competitive down here, Republican seats, but here are Democratic seats that are competitive in western Pennsylvania and elsewhere.”
On the topic of the presidential election and how President Trump has been claiming mail-in voting will lead to widespread voter fraud, Stephens weighed in on whether he thinks voter fraud will impact his own election.
“In our area, I’m not at all worried about voter fraud,” Stephens said immediately, “I voted for mail-in voting way before COVID-19. The Republican House and Republican senate passed mail-in voting in Pennsylvania in 2019; it was not a response to COVID-19, it was about voter access making it more convenient for people.”
As State Representative, Stephens wants to continue to support and help the people of his district through another 2 years, especially since as a State Representative, he has the opportunities to speak directly to families.
“The impact that we have at the local level is far greater than the impact a president or frankly, the governor is going to have,” Stephens said, “and we can pick up the phone and answer your call when you have a problem.”
“You can’t call the governor’s office and call the governor, you can’t call the President of the United States and speak to the President of the United States, but you can call your State Rep,” Stephens said.