Voting for someone is, essentially, hiring them to do a job. We, the voters, are tasked with reviewing candidates’ qualifications. We pay their salaries through taxes. We collectively decide if they get to keep their position after each term. Elected officials are meant to serve their constituents, work for us and create laws in our best interest.
However, if we do not understand the job we are “hiring’ for, how can we make the right choice for whom to vote for? How can we be good bosses if we don’t have accountability for our employees?
Our next opportunity to make our voices heard is the Pennsylvania general election on November 8.
There are many different positions up for election this year. That’s why Better Civics, a nonprofit dedicated to revolutionizing civic engagement through basic education, has teamed up with The Philadelphia Citizen to put together this voter guide that breaks down each office on the ballot and presents to you the candidates interviewing for the job.
Two offices (PA state representative and PA state senator) represent your local area at the state level.
And one office, committeepeople, represents you on a hyper-local level, in about a five-block radius.
This year, there is one other change: redistricting. Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation — our representatives in Congress — is dropping from 18 to 17 because the state’s population grew more slowly than many other states. Due to changing census numbers, local district lines also changed similar to congressional lines. Additionally, you may have a new state representative and state senator this year. Philadelphia’s growing population allowed us to gain one full new seat to represent us in Harrisburg.
To find out more information about redistricting, elections, and other essential concepts like filibustering and money in politics, check out Better Civics’ 2022 election toolkit.
Now, on to the voter guide. You can scroll along, or skip ahead to see who’s on the ballot for…
- U.S. Senate
- U.S. Congress District 2
- U.S. Congress District 3
- U.S. Congress District 5
- Lieutenant Governor
U.S. SENATOR AND REPRESENTATIVE
U.S. senators and representatives represent you in Washington D.C. Only one of our two Pennsylvania Senate seats is up for election this year, and since Sen. Pat Toomey decided not to run again, the field is wide open. Pennsylvania’s 17 representatives — including three in Philly — are also up for election this year.
May 17 did not result in a definitive Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. It ruled out Kathy Barnette, an ardent Trump supporter who hoped to become the first Black Republican woman elected to the U.S. Senate. It also ended the runs for comparatively middle-of-the-road real estate developer Jeff Bartos, along with Trump acolytes Carla Sands, chairperson and CEO of Vintage Capital Group, and attorneys George Bochetto, a Trump defense lawyer during the president’s second impeachment hearing, and Sean Gale, a proponent of voter ID laws and opponent of mail-in voting.
Remaining in a too-close-to-call race that will head to a recount if the winning margin is less than .5 percent of votes cast:
David McCormick: The former CEO of Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, McCormick is actually from…Connecticut, not Pennsylvania. He was undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs during the George W. Bush administration and served in the Persian Gulf War.
McCormick identifies as a “Trump conservative” who will stand up to China, and promises that he will only serve for two terms as a U.S. senator. McCormick is strongly anti-choice. He has been endorsed by many in former President Trump’s inner circle (former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and Senator Ted Cruz, for three).
He recently came under scrutiny for his hedge fund’s ties to a state’s teachers fund that underperformed, but he has said that he did not have direct control over the fund’s investments.
Mehmet Oz: Dr. Oz, the former talk show host and surgeon, is best known for promoting pseudoscience and alternative medicine, claiming, for example, that green coffee extract was a “magic weight-loss cure.” (There is no medical proof of this.)
Turkish-born, Oz served in the Turkish Army and has dual citizenship. He got his medical degree and MBA from Penn but lives in New Jersey. (He says he has been staying at his wife’s parents’ house in Montgomery County.) Oz is running as a staunch conservative who is anti-choice, strongly supports the 2nd Amendment, is highly critical of Anthony Fauci, and has Trump’s endorsement.
Out: Malcolm Kenyatta, a North Philly native who has served as a state representative since his 2018; Alexandra Khalil, Palestinian-Muslim origins and progressive approach; Conor Lamb: a marine, former federal prosecutor who represents Western Pennsylvania’s 17th district, endorsed by Philadelphia Democratic Party.
John Fetterman: The current lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, Fetterman is one of the more progressive and best known candidates in the race. The issues he’s most passionate about are legalizing marijuana, protecting unions, raising the minimum wage, and reforming cities. On that latter issue, look to the redevelopment work he did in Braddock, where he served three full terms as mayor.
Fetterman has pledged not to accept any money from corporate PACs and to date, has raised the most money out of any primary candidate, mostly in small-dollar donations. Fetterman came under renewed scrutiny for his handling of an incident in 2013 when he confronted an unarmed Black man with a gun, but the man himself has said that he doesn’t blame Fetterman and that what occurred does not preclude him from winning the Senate seat.
U.S. CONGRESS DISTRICT 2
Haroon “Aaron” Bashir: Having migrated to the United States from Pakistan in 2001, Bashir became a U.S. citizen in 2006. He worked as an accountant for the City of Philadelphia for a decade, but has also been an adjunct professor and entrepreneur. In 2020, Bashir ran for PA State Representative, but was defeated by Kevin Boyle. When asked what legislator he’d model himself after, Bashir named former President Trump and former Vice President Mike Pence. Bashir is focused on lowering taxes and less government involvement in everyday people’s lives.
Brendan Boyle: First elected in 2014, Brendon Boyle is the current incumbent congressman from District 2. Boyle sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, where he has pushed for progressive policies such as an ultra-millionaire tax alongside U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal. Public service runs in the family: his brother is PA State Rep Kevin Boyle.
U.S. CONGRESS DISTRICT 3
There are no Republicans running for this office.
Dwight Evans: Evans is the current Democratic incumbent after winning a special election in 2016. Evans won the seat previously occupied by Rep. Chaka Fattah, after he resigned following a racketeering conviction. Before that, Evans was a PA state rep from 1980 to 2016. He graduated from the Community College of Philadelphia and La Salle University and worked as a teacher for the School District of Philadelphia. He is a member of Congressional Progressive and supports three public health option bills in Congress. Recently, he voted for Pres. Biden’s infrastructure bill, and says he secured $6.3 million for community projects in his district in the new spending bill.
U.S. CONGRESS DISTRICT 5
David Galluch: Galluch attended the University of Cambridge and the U.S. Naval Academy, then served during two deployments in the Navy. He currently works for Comcast in strategic development and lives in Newtown Square. Galluch believes that the government should empower individuals and supports tax policies that benefit entrepreneurs and small businesses. He has written that he was inspired by the career of Senator John McCain.
Mary Gay Scanlon: Scanlon, the Democratic incumbent, is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania Law School and was sworn into Congress during a special election in 2018. She previously served as national Pro Bono Counsel at Ballard Spahr law firm for 15 years before deciding to run for Congress. While in Congress, she has co-sponsored over 400 bills and has introduced legislation to reduce student loan debt and reduce the cost of prescription drugs.
Governor Tom Wolf, the current top elected official in the state, has served two consecutive, four-year terms, which is the limit in PA, so this year we vote on a new governor.
Here are four really important things the governor gets to do:
Make executive orders and actions. Expanding health care to cover more low-income people or declaring a state of emergency are two examples.
Propose the state budget. For example, the governor could decide to increase the amount of money the state spends on education.
Appoint the heads of state agencies. These appointees—like the Secretaries of Education, Labor and Health—put laws into practice. So for example, the governor appoints the secretary of education.
Veto (or reject) laws that the legislature wants to pass. For example, last year, the legislature wanted to pass a law that would allow anyone to carry a concealed gun without having to get a background check or a gun permit. Governor Wolf vetoed the legislation and it didn’t become law.
Doug Mastriano: Mastriano, a state senator from Gettysburg, was a colonel in the US Army and has been a leading national figure in the disinformation campaign claiming that former President Trump actually won the 2020 election. Mastriano was at the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection on January 6, 2020 and was subpoenaed by the congressional committee tasked with investigating the insurrection. Mastriano led rallies against mask mandates and does not support the Covid-19 vaccine. He is strongly anti-choice and has introduced legislation to ban most legal abortion.
Josh Shapiro: The current PA Attorney General, Shapiro is an old hat at running for office and is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. He ran successfully and was re-elected to serve three additional terms as a State Representative from Montgomery County, ran successfully for the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners in Montgomery County, and served in that role for four years before being elected and then re-elected for a second term as Attorney General. He touts his experience investigating the Catholic Church’s cover-up of sexual abuse, defending Pennsylvania’s election result during the 2022 presidential election, and defending women’s reproductive rights. Though Shapiro is fairly scandal-free, he and his office were sued in early 2020 by Philly DA Larry Krasner about a $26 billion opioid settlement; the case was dismissed by the state Commonwealth Court.
This position often flies under the radar, but since Lt. Governor John Fetterman has taken office, the role has garnered national attention. The key responsibilities of the lieutenant governor include: Serving on boards related to military, community enhancement and emergency management; leading statewide fire safety initiatives; serving as the President of the Senate; and serving as the Chair of the Board of Pardons, which oversees the rights that someone who was in jail can be given back after they served their time.
Carrie DelRosso: Born in Scranton, Delrosso serves as the PA State Rep from the 33rd Legislative District in Allegheny County. Though she’s a relative newcomer, her 2020 election was impressive: she won an upset victory, unseating longtime Democratic State Rep and House Minority Leader Frank Dermody. Delrosso is an advocate for the 2nd amendment, is anti-choice, and opposes increased state taxes. She supports affordable health insurance, low taxes, and limits on regulation.
Austin Davis: Currently a PA state rep from Allegheny County, Davis is Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s running mate. Davis has led a series of firsts: he’s a first generation college graduate (University of Pittsburgh), was the youngest and first Black vice chair of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, and when he was elected as a state rep in 2018, became the first African American to serve as state representative for the 35th Legislative District in Allegheny County. Davis sits on a number of House committees and is a member of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, Climate Caucus, and the PA SAFE Caucus.
Nicole Shultz: Shultz is the owner of Uglie Acres, a small business that sells homemade jams. Her leadership in the Libertarian Party is relatively recent —in 2021, Shultz was elected as both Interim Treasurer for the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania and Windsor Township Auditor. Shultz says that she will be a “voice of reason” as Lieutenant Governor, and believes in less government response, individual rights, and private sector cooperation. She supports reproductive rights, pardoning non-violent offenders, and vows to encourage rehabilitation programs and services to address mental health issues.