PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – In next Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary, most incumbents are not being challenged in their own party.
But in this region, ten incumbent state representatives will find an opponent on the ballot.
One of those is this region’s first African American woman to serve in Harrisburg.
When Summer Lee defeated Paul Costa 2 years ago, she was not only the first African American woman elected to the state House of Representatives from this area, but she was also the first Democratic Socialist.
Her passionate advocacy of progressive issues, however, has ruffled feathers.
And North Braddock Councilman Chris Roland says the 34th District in the eastern suburbs needs a representative focused on hometown issues.
“I specifically ran to really bring voice to marginalized communities and poor and working class people,” Pa. Rep. Summer Lee, a North Braddock Democrat, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
In the 34th District, incumbent PA Rep. @SummerForPA Lee, the only African American woman in the state house from this region, is being challenged by North Braddock Councilman @Chris_RolandPA, who has @AlleghenyLabor @AlleghenyDems & @ACE_Fitzgerald support. My story on @KDKA pic.twitter.com/wFd89A5gWy
— Jon Delano KDKA (@JonDelano) May 28, 2020
Lee says she’s not the typical legislator, as she is focused on equity and justice issues.
“All of these different policy perspectives that your typical elected has never considered. It’s critical to have a voice like that. That’s why I am running again,” says Lee.
But North Braddock councilman Roland, endorsed by the Democratic Party and the Allegheny County Labor Council, sees a more traditional role for a state representative.
“Jobs are super important. And I think bringing businesses into the district and being able to give those opportunities to folks is really important,” says Roland.
He highlights his work on local projects like new playgrounds, road paving and schools, and he criticizes Lee for missing community events.
WATCH: KDKA’S Jon Delano Interviews Summer Lee And Chris Roland
“I think I attended over 150 events before the pandemic began. I’ve seen her at a few of them, not a lot of them,” says Roland.
Roland, a county parks employee, has a key supporter in County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
“It’s an honor to have Rich endorse me,” says Roland.
Unlike Fitzgerald and Roland, Lee opposes fracking.
“My environmental stands, my fierce advocacy against environmental racism, I know that makes people uncomfortable,” says Lee.
Democrats in the 34th District will pick their nominee on Tuesday, June 2.
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