Melissa Shusterman (D) – 157th District

Melissa Shusterman is the Democratic candidate running against incumbent Rep. Warren Kampf

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October 26, 2018
Limerick Patch
On The Issues: Shusterman Vs. Kampf, State Rep. 157th District

On The Issues: Shusterman Vs. Kampf, State Rep. 157th District

If you live in parts of Phoenixville, Upper Providence, or Schuylkill Township, these are your candidates. Here’s where they stand.

With Election Day just weeks away, we’re breaking down candidates and their policy positions in several key races, including the battle for the 157th District in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives. Democrat Melissa Shusterman is challenging Republican incumbent Warren Kampf.

Opinions given by candidates on the below issues are taken from official campaign correspondence, unless otherwise noted.

THE DISTRICT
The 157th includes parts of Chester and Montgomery County and much of the Phoenixville area. The east, middle and west wards of the borough are in the 157th, as well as the Oaks, Mont Clare and Mingo sections of Upper Providence. Tredyffrin and Schuylkill townships are also part of the 157th.

HOMETOWN
Kampf: Tredyffrin Township

Shusterman: Schuylkill Township

EDUCATION

Kampf: Devon Elementary School, Tredyffrin/Easttown Junior High School, Phillips Exter Academy High School; BA from Yale University, JD from Emory University School of Law

Shusterman: Conestoga High School, BA in Russian Studies and History from Lafayette College, MA in Media Studies from American University

EXPERIENCE

Kampf: Kampf served on the Tredyffrin Township Zoning Board before being elected to Township Supervisor, a post he held from 2003 to 2009. He has held the 157th seat since 2010.

Shusterman: Shusterman worked at companies like The Food Network, VH1, MTV, and HGTV, and has also founded her own digital video production company, Fedora Media.

ON EDUCATION

Kampf: Kampf’s campaign provides the following education plan:

  • Providing record state funding to education – every budget Warren has supported as our Representative included more state funding for education than the year before
  • Delivered $60 Million for School Safety Grants in
  • Increase flexibility for schools and parents to give them a stronger voice in curriculum and much more
  • Focus on fundamental skills in math, reading, science, and technology that children need to succeed while reducing the need to “teach to the test”
  • Reforming the school funding formula to make certain that all school districts are treated fairly and our local schools receive back more of the money we send to Harrisburg
  • Utilize technology to enhance student learning and provide greater access to tutoring, AP courses, courses not available at local schools, online learning, SAT prep, etc.
  • Support vocational and skills-based education that provides needed skills (at a lower cost) to obtain good-paying jobs that provide for lifelong success

In 2018, Kampf voted “yes” to require lead testing in school water systems, prohibit failing students from continuing online charter school, authorize cigarette tax, and to require schools to make expenses public (source: VoteSmart.org).

Voted for House Bill 85, to allow parents to opt their children out of Keystone Exam testing (source: PA Legislature)

Shusterman: “I am a proud graduate of the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District. My mother was a teacher for several years at Radnor High School. I have taught at several public universities. I understand the value of public education, and I am committed to making sure every child in our state has access to quality public schools. We in the 157th District are lucky enough to have some of Pennsylvania’s best schools, but there are many Pennsylvanians who are not so lucky. In the legislature, I will work tirelessly to increase education funding, free our students from restrictive standardized tests, support our teachers’ independence, and adapt our schools to meet the needs of the 21st Century. I also believe we should increase funding and access to vocational training. Too many Harrisburg politicians put public education first on the chopping block, and I’ve had enough. Our leaders need to support our students and public schools. I promise you that I will.”

Would eliminate Keystone tests (source: Sister District Project)

ON SCHOOL SHOOTINGS AND GUN VIOLENCE

Kampf: Said no to arming teachers. Introduced school safety legislation focusing on ” identification of potentially troubled young individuals, support for increased mental health and mental rehabilitation services, and commonsense actions to address firearm issues.”

Supports a bump stock ban, universal background checks, and a ban on high-capacity magazines.

Voted “yes” in 2018 to require surrender of firearms in cases where a victim has requested a protection from abuse order (source: PA Legislature).

“Implement ‘Red Flag’ legislation that allows family members or law enforcement to ask the courts to temporarily remove firearms from a person who poses a danger to themselves or others — with appropriate due process.” Supported $60 million in funding for school security initatives (source: campaign)

“The issue of public safety isn’t Republican or Democrat; it is the job of every elected leader regardless of party. This is a complex problem and as much as both sides like to formulate simple one-sided narratives, the fact is fixing it will require everyone to re-examine their beliefs and act now.” (source: Kampf office release, Feb. 2018)

Previously earned an “A minus” (2010) and “B” (2012) grade from National Rifle Association, but earned an “F” in 2018. (source: NRA-PVF)

Named a Moms Demand Action Common Sense Gun Candidate in 2018 (source: Gun Sense Voter).

Shusterman: Said no to arming teachers. Supports a bump stock ban, universal background checks, and assault weapons ban.

“If elected to the state legislature, I promise I will act on gun control. I’m not afraid to stand up to the gun lobby. We owe it to every family who has had to bury a loved one because of gun violence to do something about gun control. I promise to be a proactive, not reactive, leader on gun control in the legislature. I will act on it as soon as I am sworn in; I won’t wait until the next mass shooting to do my job and help fix the problem. I support many common-sense measures that will make our schools and communities safer from gun violence . I support a bump stock ban and universal background checks on all gun sales in Pennsylvania. I strongly support an assault weapons ban. Weapons of such destructive capability should not be available for ordinary purchase. I support a limit on the amount of ammunition and the number of guns that can be purchased at one time. I support funding gun buyback programs. I support the rights of municipalities to pass their own gun regulations. I support increased funding for mental health treatment. I support allowing the courts and the police to remove firearms from someone deemed a threat.” (source: Shusterman campaign)

Earned an “F” from the National Rifle Association in 2018 (source: NRA-PVF).

Named a Moms Demand Action Common Sense Gun Candidate (source: Gun Sense Voter).

ON FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY

Kampf:

  • Opposing broad-based tax increases that unfairly target Chester and Montgomery Counties and instead working to control costs and focus state spending on our priorities
  • Supporting a fair natural gas severance tax and investing the proceeds in education and pension obligation paydowns
  • Working for real property tax relief by sponsoring numerous initiatives that help local governments and school districts to reduce costs, passing a new law that gives local homeowners a stronger voice in controlling property tax increases, and working to stop school districts from targeting specific homeowners for tax increases
  • Led the successful effort to pass historic public pension reform that will save taxpayers billions of dollars in the long-term, provide new employees with a fair retirement benefit, and keep our promise to current retirees and enrollees
  • Focus spending on priorities like education, job creation, and public safety while working to increase efficiencies and eliminate duplicative agencies and departments

Shusterman: “Pennsylvania has been running a budget deficit for several years and we are now billions of dollars in debt. Our credit rating has been downgraded multiple times. Career politicians in Harrisburg have been squabbling and playing games instead of dealing with our state’s financial issues. Their solution is to borrow more money, point fingers, and try to raise our taxes. That’s unacceptable. While starting my own business and raising my son as a single mother, I couldn’t borrow billions of dollars to keep my family and company afloat; I had to act like a responsible adult and make tough decisions to put food on the table and grow my business. I will use that experience to put Pennsylvania back on a path of fiscal sustainability. I believe in balancing our budget and paying off our debt by cutting unnecessary spending, instituting a severance tax, and closing tax loopholes. We need leaders who are willing to make the hard decisions needed to improve our state.”

ON THE ENVIRONMENT

Kampf: Voted in 2012 to permit Marcellus shale drilling and use revenue to fund environmental programs. (source: Kampf office release)

Suggested that the state should control gas reserves and supercede local zoning as it pertains to the Marcellus shale, which might be too crucial to the state to leave to its municipalities, as “an enormous engine of economic growth.” (source: Patch 2012)

Voted against a 2014 bill (House Bill 2354), ultimately signed into law by Gov. Corbett, which requires the state legislature to approve recommendations from the US Department of Environmental Protection. Specifically, the bill Kampf opposed allows Pennsylvania to approve or reject federal regulation of carbon dioxide fossil fuel-powered power plants. (source: Vote Smart)

Shusterman: Supports moratorium on fracking in Delaware River Basin (not entire state).

“The Pennsylvania Constitution states “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.” One of the things that makes Pennsylvania great is its natural beauty. I will fight tirelessly to protect our environment in the legislature. I support increased funding to the Department of Environmental Protection, a moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River Basin, a more stringent and transparent permitting process, a fair severance tax, and stricter laws to protect our air, water, and land. Our government should be working to protect our environment and our future, not doing the bidding of special interests whose only interest is making money. I will never take money from the fossil fuel lobby.”

Endorsed by Sierra Club’s Pennsylvania chapter.

ON GERRYMANDERING

Kampf: Supports redistricting effort, but not by the courts. Co-sponsored House Bill 722 in February 2018 to create an “independent commission” — comprised of equal members of ruling parties as well as three unaffiliated individuals — which would draw the new districts. (source: PA Legislature)

“I have refused to play partisan political games and always worked to find common ground. It was my hope that all the parties involved in the current process would be able to cooperate and address this important issue. Unfortunately, the events of the past month (2018’s redistricting) have shown that the only way to fix this system is to make it truly of the people.” (source: Kampf office release)

Shusterman: “Gerrymandering is a bipartisan issue that has hurt democracy and disproportionately targeted minorities. Political laziness and expediency has prevented the issue of gerrymandering from being solved. When a political party has the power to draw the lines that decide their own fate there is no longer a true democracy. These borders are tactically drawn in order to make state house races less competitive. In order to make as many districts safe or easy for a party to win, legislatures often pack as many voters from the opposing party into as few districts as possible. This limits the opposing party’s power throughout the government. In the end, this can lead to a one-party dominated legislature that does not reflect the will of the people.

ON THE OPIOID CRISIS

Kampf: Supports the following legislation:

• Opioid Prescriptions (Act 122 of 2016): Prohibits a health care practitioner from prescribing more than seven days of an opioid drug product in a hospital emergency department or urgent care facility unless certain limited exceptions apply. • Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse (Act 123 of 2016): Creates rules for properly disposing unused prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. • Prescription, Addiction Education (Act 124 of 2016): Amends the Achieving Better Care by Monitoring All Prescriptions Program Act to require prescribers and dispensers to obtain education in pain management, identification of addiction, and the use of opioids, and require system queries when prescribing or dispensing an opioid benzodiazepine drug. • Prescriptions for Minors (Act 125 of 2016): Prohibits prescribing an opioid to a minor, with certain limitations, for more than seven days and requires all prescribers to receive written consent from a minor’s parent or legal guardian in order to prescribe a medical treatment containing opioids as well as discuss the risks of addiction and overdose associated with the medication. • Opioid Curriculum (Act 126 of 2016): Requires licensing boards create a safe opioid prescribing curriculum to be offered in medical schools and establishes a patient voluntary non-opioid directive. (source: Kampf office)

Shusterman: “A recent report by the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration on heroin and opioid related hospital admissions in Pennsylvania shows overdoses have quadrupled since 2010, and fatal overdoses rose 37% in 2016 (source). This crisis is having a devastating impact on our Pennsylvania families and communities. As a state we need to do everything we can to fight this disease. It’s time to focus on prevention, treatment, recovery, as well as criminal justice reform.”   Source

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