Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Quick Look at the Democratic Candidates in the 10th State Senate District

There are four candidates for the 10th state senate district (parts of Bucks and a nubbin of Montco), currently held by retiring Republican Joe Conti, two from each party. This is a quick look at the two Democratic candidates, Robin Rosenthal, who has been endorsed by the local party and the Inquirer (on her website), and Chris Serpico.

The Inquirer noted the differences in their backgrounds in its endorsement:

Serpico has the more traditional resume for Harrisburg; its halls are full of private-practice lawyers with a dose of prosecutorial experience. But that may be a reason voters should look closely at Rosenthal.

If elected in the fall, she would bring a diversity of experience to Harrisburg - not only by being being a woman in an overwhelmingly male preserve. Real estate salesperson, retail buyer, title company all-around, business owner and parent - Rosenthal's background shows a bright person with a taste for hard work and a down-to-earth perspective on issues such as education, health care and property taxes.

Their websites will provide longer biographies that present both as having solid credentials to run and Serpico has a list of personal endorsements from recognizable names from the area.

The Bucks County Courier Times has a good overview article, including comments made by both on a local radio show. Read the full article here. Here is a pargraph describing Serpico's take on the issues:

Serpico is focused on changing “the sordid way the Legislature does business.” He pointed to the pay raise lawmakers gave themselves and later rescinded last year and the “obscene” amount of money flowing to incumbents. He said when it comes to experience in his race with Rosenthal there is “no contest.”

He said he's lived through prior election “battles,” having run unsuccessfully for two positions — Bucks County commissioner and the state representative from the 143rd District, which he lost to Chuck McIlhinney.

Here is the same on Rosenthal:

Rosenthal, a working mother, said she's lived the issues that affect people struggling to afford health care insurance. “I clean my own house and color my own hair,” she said. “I am not your money candidate.”

Both Serpico and Rosenthal have submitted answers to the standard questions the Inky is asking of all state senate and house candidates. Many of their answers are similar. Here are their answers to one question where they differed.

Q. Pennsylvania has nearly 1.5 million adults without health insurance. How should the state address this problem, and should it adopt the Massachusetts program as a model?

Serpico: With over two million uninsured people living in this region, we must do a better job in making health care more available and affordable to all Pennsylvanians. Massachusetts should be commended for taking a bold step in confronting the health care crisis. If we require people to maintain auto liability insurance in order to drive a car, it’s not too much to ask those who can afford to maintain health insurance, to do so. We must also focus attention on supporting small businesses struggling to provide health insurance to their employees and we should provide free coverage to the poor, especially for catastrophic health problems. This will require innovative approaches to holding the line on increased costs, such as encouraging the state to always purchase vital medications in bulk.

Rosenthal: Pennsylvania should address the health insurance problem by enacting a single payer, universal healthcare system such as the program defined in Pennsylvania SB 1085, �The Balanced and Comprehensive Health Reform Act" introduced by Senator Jim Ferlo. SB 1085 provides for comprehensive coverage of medical, dental, mental health and prescription drug benefits for every Pennsylvanian, with no deductibles, co-payments or caps. It is publicly funded and privately delivered, with patients choosing their own providers. It establishes a culture of wellness through a K to12 health education and physical fitness curriculum as well as programs for better health care practices and medical error reduction. It addresses the medical malpractice crisis through a no-fault system assuring fair compensation where appropriate while eliminating nearly all malpractice premiums.

The Massachusetts program does not provide equal access to quality health care for everyone. It is a plan designed by the insurance industry; an industry which is already the major source of inefficiency in delivering healthcare today, increasing its cost and reducing its affordability and accessibility. Like the Medicare prescription drug plan, which was designed by the pharmaceutical industry, the Massachusetts plan actually adds layers of complex bureaucracy and cost, but does not provide for quality healthcare for everyone in that Commonwealth. Therefore we should not use the Massachusetts plan as a model. Rather, we should pass a meaningful plan for Pennsylvania like the one currently proposed in SB 1085.

Voters seem to either get feast (too many good candidate) or famine (none). Democratic voters in the 10th have a feast, although I will confess that I would like to see more women in office, which would tilt me towards Rosenthal. I encourage Democratic voters in that district to use the tools linked from this post to carefully research the choices, get out and meet them if possible, and be sure to vote in the primary.

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