Washington, Haywood, Gralnick contend for 4th Senatorial District seat

A 10-year incumbent and two newcomers will face off in the primary election May 20, vying for a spot to represent the Democrats in the General Election this fall.

Incumbent state Sen. LeAnna Washington, D-4, will contend with newcomers Art Haywood and Brian Gralnick for a place on the ballot in November.

The 4th Senatorial District covers Abington and Cheltenham townships, Jenkintown and Rockledge boroughs and sections of Philadelphia.

Washington, 68, who has been in politics for 20 years, serving 12 in the state House before being elected to the Senate in a special election in May 2005, has three children and is a graduate of Lincoln University. A champion for educating the public on domestic violence issues, having been a victim herself, Washington said via an email interview May 6 that she is running for re-election because she wants to continue to fight for issues that are important to residents in Montgomery and Philadelphia counties and for those who don’t have a voice.

If re-elected, Washington said she will continue to fight for full state funding of public education. She said local taxes should not go up to fund basic education.

Boosting the local and state economies is another one of her priorities, she said. She wants to create more jobs and work to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, which she believes will help spur the economy forward.

“If Gov. [Tom] Corbett had adopted the act, Pennsylvania would have saved approximately $300 million a year and brought in between $50 [million] to $80 million in new revenue each year,” she said. “These resources would have created tens of thousands of new jobs statewide and would have grown our state and local economies.”

Washington plans to continue to “get things done,” which is why she said she is the best candidate for Senate. She said she has advocated for those who don’t have a voice, fought for public education and introduced legislation and passed laws in Harrisburg, which she believes make her the ideal candidate.

When asked if her current legal situation would affect her candidacy, she declined to comment.

On the other hand, Haywood, 57, who has been a commissioner in Cheltenham Township for four years, said May 1 he is the superior candidate because he has been influential in getting legislation passed at the local level and spearheading initiatives that have never been done before in the township, like establishing a sustainability committee, getting an equal opportunity ordinance adopted and bringing an automated recycling program to the township.

Haywood, who has had a law firm in Philadelphia for 25 years that focuses on economic development, said his professional background makes him a viable contender because he understands the importance of economic development in communities and for families.

If elected, he said he will focus on public education, working to raise the minimum wage and reducing gun violence in the community.

Haywood said he wants to increase public education funding so the schools have the resources they need to educate the children. He also seeks to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $11 an hour, which in turn could help boost the economy and help with business growth, he said.

In addition, he wants to reduce gun violence by pushing for broader background checks on long guns and assault weapons, as well as legislation that requires gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons throughout the state, he said.

The main reason why Haywood said he is seeking a seat in the state Senate is he felt Washington was not doing her job.

Since LeAnna Washington wasn’t effective for Cheltenham … it was important to me that we have someone in the Senate who is going to actively and aggressively be an advocate for the communities,” he said.

A graduate of Cheltenham High School and an Elkins Park native, Gralnick, who is a nonprofit professional, said he is running for Senate, because he wants to stand up for public education and work to ensure there is more fairness and equality for citizens of the commonwealth.

If elected, Gralnick said his top priorities will be strengthening public education, protecting a woman’s right to choose and providing supports for senior citizens.

A product of a public education, the 34-year-old said that he believes there needs to be increased state funding for education and a revised funding formula that takes into account students living in poverty, students who speak English as a second language and have special needs.

In addition, he said he will stand up to Corbett and the Tea Party, who he believes is trying to take away a woman’s right to choose by supporting special testing for pregnant woman, he said. In addition, he said he will push to ensure senior citizens have the all the resources they need to age comfortably.

Having worked for former state Rep. Lawrence Curry, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging under the Rendell administration where he helped bring the Medicare prescription drug program into the state, as well as his background as a nonprofit professional, make him the stand-out contender, Gralnick said.

“I feel my experiences in state government, my experience with being an advocate and champion for seniors, for woman and working families, makes me the best candidate for [Senate],” he said.



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