Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pa. House Dems Facing Battles in Primary

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pa. House Dems Facing Battles in Primary

Article excerpt

Several local Democratic state representatives face challengers - some more than one - in the upcoming May primary.

Their districts are heavily Democratic, meaning the outcome of the primary likely will determine the winner of November's election as well.

District 19

Rep. Jake Wheatley, an incumbent first elected in 2002, has two challengers in District 19: Aerion Abney and Ebony Taylor.

The district includes the Hill District, North Side, South Side, Allentown, Hazelwood, Downtown, Knoxville, Beltzhoover, Manchester, Arlington and parts of Oakland.

Mr. Wheatley said he has worked to bring state resources and attention to the district.

"My stewardship in Harrisburg has shown leadership, collaboration and a work ethic that has helped address the issues," said Mr. Wheatley, 46, the ranking Democrat on the House Finance Committee.

He highlighted accomplishments such as addressing workforce development needs in Hazelwood and food deserts in the Hill.

"It's always easy to talk about what the incumbent hasn't done. . I think my record stands on its own," he said, although he added that he will continue to work on issues such as education, after-school care, equitable development and affordable housing.

Mr. Abney, 29, a former staffer of Mr. Wheatley's, previously ran for the seat in the 2016 Democratic primary.

"I'm running because I think it's important that we challenge the status quo that exists," he said.

He highlighted his support for affordable housing and said he wanted to make sure all residents benefit from development and aren't displaced. He said he wants to increase state funding for public schools and make sure they are adequately resourced and supports universal prekindergarten.

Ms. Taylor, 42, an independent insurance broker, said she is running a grassroots campaign. Her website describes her as "an activist turned candidate" and graduate of Pittsburgh Public Schools and Cheyney University who resides in North Side.

District 20

In District 20, incumbent Rep. Adam Ravenstahl faces challenger Mike Devine.

The district includes Polish Hill, the Strip District, a number of North Side neighborhoods and areas outside the city such as Ross, Avalon, Bellevue and West View.

Mr. Devine, 57, is a self-employed small business owner who might be better known as "DJ Zombo."

He is running to the left of the incumbent and said he supports health care for all, women's reproductive rights, keeping Pittsburgh affordable via directing state money into the new affordable housing trust fund.

"I just think when somebody votes for a Democrat, they should get 100 percent of the Democratic values," he said.

Mr. Devine, a Lawrenceville resident, said he has worked with a number of community groups, such as Friends of Arsenal Park and Lawrenceville United, to make community improvements, and it was this work that led to his decision to run for office. …

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