This upcoming Tuesday, Nov. 8 is election day. This means that the thousands of students here at West Chester will have the opportunity to participate in Pennsylvania’s local and statewide elections. There is a lot on the line this election, and your vote is more important now, than ever.
If you are a first time voter, or election day has just snuck up on you this year, you might find yourself a bit unaware of the candidates and what they represent. However, it is still very important to vote in these local elections, and this crash course plans to help you become informed on the candidates and their stances on the issues most discussed by college students.
John Fetterman and Dr. Mehmet Oz for U.S. Senate
In the running for Pennsylvania’s seat in the U.S. Senate is John Fetterman for the Democratic party and Dr. Mehmet Oz for the Republican party. The two make for an unconventional pair of candidates — and in being so, have gained national attention, an unusual occurrence for a Senate race.
Oz, a former heart surgeon, is previously known to the public through his appearances on television and radio talk shows pertaining to health advice. However, Fetterman was elected Lieutenant Governor in 2018, but has recently suffered a stroke, which has led to challenges in his campaign.
Both candidates have stated their stance on many political issues, one of which being reproductive rights. Fetterman is extremely pro-choice, and has strongly advocated for the protection of reproductive rights. On the contrary, Oz has stated he is “100% pro-life” as he has seen “how precious life is” in his experience as a surgeon.
Fetterman has also advocated for the legalization of recreational marijuana long before this race, and plans to continue fighting this cause. Oz is against the recreational use of marijuana, but supports medical marijuana with “doctor involvement.”
In regards to energy sources, Oz believes that PA should be making use of its natural gas and oil supply to maintain its reputation in natural gas and oil production. He states that not only would this offer employment opportunities, but it would help the economy as well. Fetterman has also stated he is in support of fracking in recent debates, which contradicts his previous claims of wanting transitions to cleaner energy sources.
Fetterman has stated clearly his advocacy for the raise of minimum wage to $15/hr. Oz has not suggested this raise, but instead argues that through other economic strategies, market forces will bring more money to residents in PA.
Oz has also not made claims to aid in student loan debt relief, but will fight to prevent universities from annually raising their tuition. This opposes Fetterman who plans to reduce student loan debt in addition to fighting for tuition free community college.
Chrissy Houlahan and Guy Ciarrocchi for 6th Congressional District
More local to West Chester University, Representative for District 6 of Pennsylvania is at stake for Chrissy Houlahan who currently holds the spot in the U.S. Congress. Guy Ciarrocchi is the opponent to Houlahan.
Houlahan was elected into congress in 2018 and has since represented PA as a democrat. Ciarrocchi has campaigned against her representing the republican party and stressing his anti-extremist values.
Houlahan has been an advocate for mental health issues and in regards to women’s reproductive rights, she has represented her support of women’s right to choose. On the contrary, Ciarrochi is pro-life, and has supported the overturning of Roe v. Wade, claiming it is naturally bad at law due to scientific advancements.
Ciarrocchi has expressed great concern for the state’s huge energy supply of natural gas and oil, and values it as a great asset to PA’s economy. Houlahan is helping to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which provides resources that aid in transitioning to a “cleaner economy and increase our energy independence.”
Houlahan is representative of education, claiming to be for affordable college education and investing in local public schools. Ciarrocchi wants to help the economy by addressing overregulation of businesses and lowering unemployment rates.
Chris Pielli and Heidi Vanderwaal for 156th District State Representative
Another local-to-WCU election is the race for state representative for PA’s 156th district. Chris Pielli is the Democratic candidate and previously the West Goshen Township Supervisor. Heidi Vanderwaal is the Republican candidate.
Republican Vanderwaal has claimed to be focused solely on local priorities rather than the national political rhetoric, as she believes it divides communities. She shares strategies to support the economy by implementing fiscal policies that would contribute to inflation prevention. She suggests suspending gas tax among other tax cuts. She also advocates for choice of school as well as fully funding public schools.
Democrat Pielli puts emphasis on equality, and seeks fiscal policies, grants or tax rebates that would support the middle class, small businesses, minorities and the economy as a whole. Pielli is pro-choice and an advocate for reproductive rights. He fought against the Mariner East Pipeline II and favors the protection of the environment.
Brain Fitzpatrick and Ashley Ehasz for 1st Congressional District
An abundance of West Chester students reside in West Chester for school, yet live back home in Bucks County and Montgomery County. Therefore, although the local elections here in West Chester are pivotal to the community, it is also important to call attention to the local election back home for some students as well. Just as West Chester is, Bucks and Montco will also be selecting their vote for Shapiro v. Mastriano, as well as Fetterman v. Oz. An additional election occurring is Fitzpatrick vs. Ehasz.
Brian Fitzpatrick and Ashley Ehasz are representing the house in the race for Pennsylvania’s first congressional district: meaning Bucks county and parts of Montgomery county. Fitzpatrick is representing the Republican party, with Ehasz representing its Democratic counterpart.
The two candidates come from very diverse backgrounds and bring unique experience to the table. The most obvious being one male representative and one female. Fitzpatrick also worked as a former FBI Agent, and thrives off of his bipartisan history; if he is reelected this would be his fourth consecutive term. On the other hand, Ehasz holds the title of former Commander and Pilot for the U.S. Army.
On Oct. 25, 2022, the two candidates had their first and only debate at the Lower Bucks Bristol Campus. As with most political races, the two shared similar beliefs on some things, and differed on several things. Because of this, it is important to know where the two stand on certain issues, hopefully the breakdown below will make it more clear which candidate is for you.
One of the hot topics discussed in the debate was the conversation of Roe vs. Wade and women’s access to abortion rights. Ehasz reflected her very strong support of Roe vs. Wade, stating that she as a “second class citizen” on the stage, was just as adamant for women’s healthcare rights as every other woman watching. Fitzpatrick said he “believe[s] in legality in the beginning stages, and limits, not bans, limits.” He reassured that he would support any bill that mirrors Pennsylvania’s current abortion laws.
Both candidates revealed that they are in support of Ukraine, as well as green energy. They also both proposed China as the biggest national security threat and a looming issue for the United States.
Both Fitzpatrick and Ehasz made green energy a priority, but split ways on their opinions regarding natural gas production. Fitzpatrick is in support of natural gas production for its ability to reduce the United State’s reliance on foreign oil, and bring in jobs for the U.S.. Whereas Ehasz raised concerns for natural gas production and fracking’s contamination effect on drinking water.
Ehasz supports expanding the student loan forgiveness program, while Fitzpatrick supports refinancing student loan interest rates. Additionally, Ehasz would like to see the minimum wage increase to $15/hr, while Fitzpatrick supports simpler tax codes and wants to “focus on the middle class” regarding economic policies. Both would like to see reforms to the gun laws, with Ehasz requesting universal background checks, and Fitzpatrick requesting an older age limit to purchase a gun.
The choice now lies in the hand of the voter, and hopefully the information provided above helps ease the decision process for students and citizens alike. Second-year WCU student Adelia Elliot put it best: “it affects the future that i will have to live through; I have the opportunity to ensure that my rights are not taken away and it is up to me and my peers to vote for what is best.”
For more information on the candidates and their stances, see their websites below:
Isabella Dahms is a second-year Secondary English Education major. ID973501@wcupa.edu
Mia Guerrieri is a first-year English major. MG100876@wcupa.edu