Last week, and following my interview with Brett Burman, I interviewed Pennsylvania Democrat John Kane running in the State Senate primary for the ninth District. Here are the questions I asked him, followed by his responses.
Kyle Gombosi: Why are you running for State Senate? What do you have to offer that neither your primary opponent nor Tom Killion do?
John Kane: I’ve been involved in politics for a very long time, really starting to get involved around 1991. I was a business manager of a union, and I know what it’s like to be out of work and out of healthcare, and didn’t see anybody in Harrisburg with that kind of voice. Labor has always been involved in politics, but we don’t have a lot of people working for us there. My relationships with working people in Delaware and Chester country are what I have to offer.
KG: What prior experience, if any, do you have in politics?
JK: I was also one of the very first locals in Delaware county involved in labor who got involved in politics. Same thing in Chester, Montgomery and Bucks counties: labor and Democrats worked hard to turn those counties blue.
KG: You say on your campaign website that you were a plumber and then a “representative for thousands of working plumbers.” How have those jobs and responsibilities informed your personal and political beliefs?
JK: Everybody understands that the middle class was born of labor. We’ve always fought for better wages, healthcare, retirement, etc. If I hadn’t had healthcare, I would be dead. I had it, and that’s why I’m fighting for access to healthcare. I’ve also had union members who died of addiction and suicide, and I’m running for these people.
KG: You also outline your health struggles on your campaign website, namely your fights against cancer and addiction. These are both huge issues in healthcare. Knowing that healthcare is important to so many voters, what plans do you have to expand healthcare in Pennsylvania?
JK: I think we’re lacking on this. I think we need more competition. Healthcare costs continue to rise, Big Pharma keeps increasing costs. I have a strength of bringing people together and sitting down and talking about issues. I’d also like to see what other states are doing. Delaware’s rates are much lower than ours, and I want to see why. I negotiate with health insurance companies as a union leader, but as Senator I want to find out what things are making PA’s costs so high.
KG: Also on your campaign website, you say that you “will hold Sunoco and its Mariner East pipeline to the highest level of scrutiny.” Recognizing that this pipeline is an issue that is important to many voters especially in the ninth Senate District, what would constitute satisfactory assurance on Sunoco’s part that they can operate the pipeline safely?
JK: Having come from labor, safety has been a concern of mine ever since joining my union. Being on a construction site is one of the most dangerous jobs, and I know there were some issues with contamination of water, and that’s uncalled for these days. Sunoco and others need to be held accountable for that. What I plan to do as Senator is fight for the individuals affected and ensure safety. I know the individuals putting that pipeline together are the best of the best in the world, but I will fight to ensure the safety of operation.
KG: Would you support a freeze in pipeline operation if Sunoco cannot demonstrate that it can operate the pipeline safely?
JK: I would hope that they could pass all necessary inspection, and it won’t open up unless it does. So Sunoco does have to demonstrate that they can operate safely.
KG: According to Ballotpedia, you ran for PA State Senate back in 2014 and were unsuccessful, with Republican Thomas McGarrigle winning that election. Why should voters believe that you are the better Democrat to flip a State Senate seat when you were unsuccessful in the past?
JK: In that election, we were behind by double-digit percentages. We only lost by 4 points. In this district, Republicans only hold a four-point advantage, and data suggests that, in Chester County, Democrats now constitute a majority of voters. I have a great campaign, and I believe that I represent both counties better than Tom Killion. I think we can do much better, and that’s why I’m confident I can flip his seat.
KG: Beyond the issues we’ve already talked about, what are some others that you feel are important that you would like to address as a State Senator?
JK: Increasing investment in education and vocational training. Not everyone will attend college, so the trades are a great opportunity for someone to enter the middle class and have a great career. Sensible gun laws need to be addressed, as well as addressing the opioid epidemic. Defending a woman’s right to choose is another issue I care about.
Kyle Gombosi is a senior Music: Elective Studies major with a minor in journalism.