Congressional Candidates at February 13 Meeting (in order of appearance)

Molly Sheehan
Emphasizing her vision for a Democratic Party that rebuilds from the grassroots on a “bold” policy platform, Sheehan called for a “New New Deal” that speaks to citizens’ everyday lives and ensures that tax dollars go into “the public good,” not into corporate profits. Democrats will succeed, she said, if they put forth a strong policy message that shows we “stand for something.”  Sheehan mentioned affordable childcare, paid family leave, universal pre-K, and a “real” jobs training program that brings start-up innovation into the schools and endorses a range of paths to a stable life, not just the 4-year college route. Her brief remarks described the “inefficiencies” in our healthcare system, the misuse of taxes to help private companies develop drugs that taxpayers cannot afford, and the practicality of her “Path to Single Payer,” which Sheehan calls the only fiscally responsible approach to health care in the U.S. Read more about Molly Sheehan.

Dan Muroff
Muroff pledged to be an “accessible” U.S. representative, to fight for “what’s right,” in labor, the environment, and gun control, and to support “affordable, realistically accessible healthcare.” Muroff described himself as a pro-union candidate whose views were shaped by his mother’s membership in the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. He also tied his commitment to funding for drug treatment to his own sister’s heroin addiction and disappearance in Kensington two decades ago. He cited his leadership with the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania and CeaseFire Pa as evidence of his support for environmental protection and gun laws that address “preventable” gun violence. Read more about Dan Muroff.

Ashley Lunkenheimer
Drawing on her decade of work as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for PA’s Eastern District, Lunkenheimer said she has a direct understanding of the “limitations of the criminal justice system.” It can stop criminals from committing further crimes, but it cannot provide the education, healthcare, and jobs that citizens need in order to avoid criminal behavior. Her prosecutorial experience with opioid addiction before it was a front-page story shaped Lunkenheimer’s choice to work as an advocate for Medicaid expansion in PA. after she left the U.S. Attorney’s office. A desire to strengthen the social safety net and improve access to health care inspired Lunkenheimer’s late January decision to become a candidate, as did her shock that Republicans were normalizing racism sexism, and homophobia in a world that she, her wife, and her children “must live in.” 

Mary Gay Scanlon
One of the newest entrants in the field of Democratic congressional candidates, Scanlon expressed her “frustration” that elected official are failing to address “real issues” like health care, the environment, education, and protecting democracy “from foreign and domestic threats.” She noted, too, her ambition to see Pennsylvania (finally) include a woman in its congressional delegation. Scanlon told the audience that her professional expertise in pro bono legal work and her civic leadership in local public education have trained her to understand the critical issues that limit citizens’ opportunities and to work on “common sense compromises” that “get things done.” She noted her commitment to civil rights, voting rights, alternatives to mass incarceration, and excellence in all public schools. 

Larry Arata
Another recent entrant to the congressional race, Arata discussed his experience as a long-time Democrat working on local environmental issues and described himself as “always on the right side” of other Democratic concerns, such as gun control and reproductive rights. It is the health care issue, however, that compelled Arata to run for office. His own son’s heroin addiction led to a fatal overdose just two months ago and fueled Arata’s frustration over the “insanity” of insurance company policies that delay treatment until a relapse occurs or deny treatment using other technicalities. Pointing to universal health care as the reason other countries do not have our problems with addiction treatment, Arata pledged to “do something about this” and “fight for Democrats” whether he wins or loses the May 15 primary. 

Shelly Chauncey
Illness prevented Chauncey from attending the February 13 meeting.

Note that HavDems will sponsor one or two forums in April for congressional candidates.