if re-elected, I intend to leverage my new relationships (if the Democrats don’t manage to take the majority) to get some traction on one of my most important, if possibly least sexy, pieces of legislation – a bill that would establish a state insurance program (like mine subsidence insurance) for people impacted by landslides.State Representative Emily Kinkead
This is the next post of our 2022 primary election season series ‘Political Q&A’ with progressive candidates throughout Pennsylvania. Candidates can be anywhere in Pennsylvania running for any level of office. Please note that these are not necessarily endorsements, more of an opportunity for candidates to connect with the LGBTQ community, progressives neighbors, and others with an interest in Western Pennsylvania. If your candidate would like to participate, please contact us pghlesbian at gmail dot com. We welcome candidates at all levels of government across the entire Commonwealth
By participating, candidates are saying that they
- must be an LGBTQIA+ ally
- identify as pro-choice
- must affirm that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election and that you accept the certified Pennsylvania’s election results
I first met Emily Kinkead during her 2020 campaign. She completed a Q&A and she also showed up to help me move some heavy bags of cat litter into the house when I posted a cry for help on Facebook. That was a nice thing to do. We bonded as cat folx and she’s contributed to various blog posts ever since. I admire that Emily ejected an incumbent Ravenstahl, a political dynasty of sorts, from her seat and began to reconnect with truly progressive values. Emily is whip smart and good at breaking things down – her comments below about mine subsidence insurance and a National Infrastructure Bank are clear, concise, and easy to understand. They also touch on key issues that a lot of my own neighbors really care about, especially infrastructure.
Name: Emily Kinkead
Office Held/Seeking: State Representative, HD 20
How do you describe your identity? I identify a cishet, white woman
I believe that the biggest priority for my LGBTQ constituents, whether they have the words to articulate it or not, is for the legislature to do something, anything to stop making life harder for them merely because they identify as LGBTQ
Tell us about your district. What is a hidden gem most people might not know about? My district consists of Ross Township, the boroughs of Avalon, Bellevue, and West View, and most of the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Brighton Heights and Observatory Hill. I think my whole district is a hidden gem – but I’m biased. When I first ran in 2020, many people did not know much about my district, Pittsburgh’s Northside, the Northern Boroughs, or the North Hills. I’ve worked really hard to highlight the incredible potential all of these areas have. The residents know it, but many people who don’t live in District 20 are unaware. They don’t know about the delicious food at Joe’s Rusty Nail in Bellevue. They don’t know about the authentic Italian experience you can have at Mia Madre’s in Avalon. They haven’t seen the absolutely incredible community building going on at West View HUB – or the Steel City Shakespeare Company that’s based in West View as well. They haven’t seen the beautiful parks and great recreation that exists in Ross Township when you take yourself off of McKnight Road.
How has redistricting impacted your district? Redistricting has shifted my district north, to encompass and reunite Ross Township for the first time in 30 years! The district will no longer include neighborhoods in the city like Polish Hill, Lawrenceville, Troy Hill, or the Strip District. It remains a solidly Democratic district from which I can proudly and loudly advocate for the Democratic values of my constituents.
Even if we don’t agree on something, I will always have a frank and honest conversation about my beliefs and why I fall where I fall on issues. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and putting myself in rooms with people who do not agree with me because I believe that it is important for everyone to be heard.
Please tell me about your familiarity with the LGBTQ community in your district and the region. How has your first term in office impacted that familiarity? While the pandemic has certainly slowed my ability to interact with my community in the ways that I want, I made a commitment to show up to every possible thing that I was invited to, if I was able to. That has allowed me to talk to constituents from every walk of life, including my LGBTQ constituents. What is clear is that this community still needs vocal advocates. Many of my LGBTQ constituents have come to my office for assistance in some state-related matter, whether that is unemployment, PennDOT issues, professional licensing, etc. But every conversation inevitably leads to discussions of intersectionality and the struggles that many in the community face merely because they are LGBTQ and also looking for housing, looking for employment, and on and on. It’s shameful and it makes me recommit to doing everything I can to pass legislation like the Equality Act.
Based on this, what do you understand to be our top LGBTQ concerns and priorities for the General Assembly? How will you respond to those priorities? I believe that the biggest priority for my LGBTQ constituents, whether they have the words to articulate it or not, is for the legislature to do something, anything to stop making life harder for them merely because they identify as LGBTQ. Beyond that, their priorities have been as diverse as Pennsylvania is. I will continue to respond to this priority as I have so far – calling out my Republican colleagues for their hypocrisy, fighting for equal rights and anti-discrimination protections for my LGBTQ constituents, and working on policies that will help lift up every Pennsylvanian.
You were elected to your first term in 2020. Tell us about your accomplishments during this term. If reelected, what are your policy goals for your next term. In my past term, I was honored to represent my district and bring necessary resources back to the community. While I have brought back nearly $16 million and I can brag about big numbers, like the $6.6 million that West View Water Authority received to replace lead service lines or the nearly $3 million dollars that was awarded to various projects in the Strip District to bring derelict warehouses and brown sites back into public use, some of my proudest accomplishments are the smaller amounts that feel much bigger.
One of my greatest accomplishments was working with my fellow electeds and local businesses to secure a total of $250,000 for the Boys and Girls Club of Western PA to purchase buses that will help them to connect the kids in Northview Heights to their clubhouses in order to participate in the kind of after school programs that will help them reach their fullest potential. I have also been working with Councilwoman Liv Bennett to bring BGCWPA programming directly to Northview Heights. I also secured a $60,000 grant for a local afterschool program that addresses trauma in children who have experienced gun violence.
Democrats really don’t see much legislation get passed because of the Republican majority, but I have also developed a good reputation on both sides of the aisle and, if re-elected, I intend to leverage my new relationships (if the Democrats don’t manage to take the majority) to get some traction on one of my most important, if possibly least sexy, pieces of legislation – a bill that would establish a state insurance program (like mine subsidence insurance) for people impacted by landslides.
The threats of ‘religious liberty’ laws and exemptions target both LGBTQ rights and women’s rights. Pennsylvania has no law protecting marriage equality, second-parent adoption, nondiscrimination, or similar important rights. If SCOTUS overturns or waters down Roe v Wade and the ‘penumbra of privacy’ protecting us, what do you anticipate happening in Pennsylvania? If the Supreme Court changes the precedent surrounding Roe v Wade, Pennsylvanians will suffer. Abortion was a felony in Pennsylvania starting in 1939 and, to my knowledge, that law has not been repealed. What that means is that if Roe is overturned, abortions may automatically become unlawful in the Commonwealth again, even without new legislation.
But the Supreme Court is not the only threat to these rights – GOP majorities in Harrisburg continually pass dangerous legislation curtailing Pennylvanians’ rights on these issues, only to have them blocked by the Governor’s veto. And we are not so far from Texas that we might not see an “abortion bounty” bill pass our legislature. We have seen, even this Session, our Republican colleagues ram through bills that would require the burial of fetal remains and prohibit abortion if a child is diagnosed with Downs Syndrome, even while the state refuses to adequately fund support services for persons with disabilities. These have both been stopped by Governor Wolf, and Attorney General Josh Shapiro has made commitments not to enforce these laws even if they were signed into law.
If Roe falls and we have a Republican-controlled legislature, a Republican governor, and a Republican attorney general, all bets are off. We could return immediately to charging people with felonies, attempting to subpoena women’s medical records to prove these cases, and forcing women to seek dangerous and deadly DIY or back-alley abortions. Even if that law was repealed, we could see new and disturbingly “creative” ways to control birthing-capable people. It is critical that we continue to elect an Attorney General and a Governor that will fight for these rights in court and with a veto pen, even if we cannot retake the state legislature.
I don’t think Harrisburg has the will to move forward on Infrastructure funding. Convince me otherwise. With a Republican-led legislature that has still chosen to not utilize much of the $7 billion given to the state from the federal government during the Pandemic to invest in infrastructure, education, healthcare, and every other funding issue, I understand your concern. The new General Assembly legislative maps provide a fair chance for Democrats to get elected in the legislature and take control of the House and Senate. When Democrats take control of the House, those funds in the rainy day fund will be utilized to address our Commonwealth’s imperative need to invest in infrastructure and protect Pennsylvanians.
Fundamentally, however, even if Harrisburg spends every cent of money we have received from ARPA and will receive from the Infrastructure Bill, it will barely touch 10% of our infrastructure needs. But while that sounds incredibly depressing (because it is), there is a solution to this. I have been working with fellow Democrats to push for a National Infrastructure Bank (NIB). It’s something that has existed 5 times in our nation’s history, most recently during FDR’s campaign to get us out of the Great Depression, and has led us into creating the world’s greatest infrastructure and art. I’m a bit of a nerd about this and think that this is truly the way to solve our infrastructure woes. In past iterations, the NIB has not cost American taxpayers one penny and actually made money because of the low cost loans it provided to municipalities and states. It got initial capital from issuing bonds and was able to more than pay for them while becoming a self-sustaining entity. The problem is that we sunsetted each bank rather than keeping it going indefinitely. Now we piecemeal pay for infrastructure in an unsustainable way that is causing us to believe that public-private partnerships are the solution and they are not. Anyone who is running for a federal seat should be talking about supporting establishing a new NIB and every state or municipal official should be using all the influence they have to get them to.
Voter turnout is a significant concern, especially for municipal/local elections. What advice would you offer to organizations and groups concerned with turnout in Western Pennsylvania? Get involved on a local level and get out there and have conversations with your neighbors about the importance of voting. Go door to door, help your neighbors register to vote, talk to them about the candidates and the offices they are running for. Government – especially the local government – performs services that we use every single day. We know whether or not they are working and we can be the change in our local communities. Additionally, people should run for Democratic committee. Those seats are supposed to be filled with people who knock their neighborhoods, know their neighbors, and can get them out to vote. Too many of our committee members are not doing that basic job function and if people don’t know who their committee members are, they should run for committee. While committee petitions were due on March 15, folks can still run write-in campaigns, especially for the numerous open seats. Democratic committee has the potential to be a powerful tool for voter turnout if we get people into those positions who will use them to get their neighbors motivated and voting.
Fundamentally, however, even if Harrisburg spends every cent of money we have received from ARPA and will receive from the Infrastructure Bill, it will barely touch 10% of our infrastructure needs. But while that sounds incredibly depressing (because it is), there is a solution to this.
How can supporters get involved with campaigns while practicing social distancing and other protocols? While knocking on doors is safe, especially as we are seeing cases fall and now have PPE readily available for any volunteer who wants it and cannot provide their own, we have a multitude of opportunities to help out from a distance:
- Phone banking – whether it’s calling random strangers or working through a list of registered voters in your neighborhood to call those you know, your help is valuable
- Text banking – if phone calls make you anxious, texting is the next-best thing and can allow you to reach 100s of potential voters with, literally, the click of a button
- Postcarding – especially given the new district lines, it’s critical for me to receive help introducing myself to my new constituents. We have an amazing postcard team from last cycle that is fired up for round 2 and ready to invite you in! (Good penmanship required)
Finally, what are three reasons people should vote for you/support your campaign?
- I have kept my promise to be an outspoken, zealous advocate for this district and the progressive Democratic values that will actually do the most good for the most people.
- Even if we don’t agree on something, I will always have a frank and honest conversation about my beliefs and why I fall where I fall on issues. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and putting myself in rooms with people who do not agree with me because I believe that it is important for everyone to be heard.
- I care. I care about my communities. I care about the importance of the work that is done in Harrisburg. I take this job seriously and I do not take it for granted. I work hard. I show up. I roll up my sleeves and I dig in. My colleagues are constantly remarking to me, “Emily, you’re everywhere!” And I am – because I care and being in my communities, around my constituents, and knowing what matters to them is what matters to me.
Please list your social media accounts and your donation links.
- you must be an LGBTQIA+ ally
- identify as pro-choice
- you must affirm that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election and that you accept the certified Pennsylvania’s election results
Other Q&A’s in this election cycle series. You can read previous cycle Q&A’s here. Responses from this election cycle are listed below in the order they were returned by the campaign.
- Q&A With NaTisha Washington, Candidate for PA House District 24
- Q&A With Jerry Dickinson, Candidate for U.S. Congress PA-12
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