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Lauren Lareau, Pennsylvania State House District 142
Lauren Lareau’s family is from Pennsylvania; she was born in Johnstown, the grandchild of a Philadelphia police officer who raised his family in East Falls. When it came time to raise her own family, she moved to Langhorne in 2011 to make a life for herself, and her son, Lucas.
Education is her life's passion. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education with a Master's Degree in Human Development, ahead of schedule and with honors. In addition to full-time substitute teaching, she operates a tutoring business to help high school students prepare for success in college and beyond.
Her commitment to education is the major reason why she’s running for State Representative. She’s also committed to making sure that public schools are as safe as possible. She supports common sense gun safety laws and will work for strict enforcement of background check laws.
As a small business owner, Lauren knows how important small businesses are to the local economy. She will work tirelessly to ensure that starting and owning a business is about the work put in with customers, not navigating the municipal bureaucracy.
Byron Timmins, Pennsylvania State House District 46
Byron Timmins has a distinguished career in leadership, business management, and community activism.
Byron is running for State Representative in Pennsylvania’s 46th District to restore our once vibrant middle class, increase educational and career opportunities, and protect working families. Byron grew up outside of Columbus, where he learned the value of hard work and integrity from his attorney father and school nurse mother.
Determined to make a difference in the lives of others, Byron worked his way through Miami University (Ohio) and, upon graduation, was recruited into the buying program of Kaufmann’s Department Stores. When Kaufmann’s parent company decided to close their buying office in Pittsburgh and 1,200 people lost their jobs, Byron was one of them. He’ll fight tirelessly to preserve our existing jobs, while attracting investment for burgeoning industries.
On a personal level, Byron is a devoted husband and father who loves his community. He lives in Cecil Township with his wife, Astrid, and their son, Dane. He has served as a volunteer with the Canon-McMillan Parent Council, where he has worked to improve educational opportunities for students, and prior to that, he volunteered with the Muse Elementary Parent Faculty Association. He coaches Dek Hockey, as hockey, teamwork, and encouraging our youth are passions of his.
Education is an emphasis for Byron, and he has witnessed firsthand the troubling effects of school funding crises emanating from Harrisburg’s inability to craft an equitable budget. That is why he supports NO BUDGET/NO PAY legislation! If you’re not doing your job, you shouldn’t get paid. It’s common sense. He is a champion for organized labor, and will always support collective bargaining rights, prevailing wages, and increased workplace safety provisions. He will proudly stand alongside Leader Dermody as the Democrats take back the House and move Pennsylvania forward.
Kara Scott, Pennsylvania State House District 122
Kara Scott graduated from Ohio University in 1994 with 2 bachelor degrees (communication psychology and recreation) and a masters in human services. She is a proud mother of four boys who knows how important it is to parents that they see their children succeed in school and that they find opportunities their own community. When her boys were young, Kara volunteered for many of their activities. She home schooled them for the first four years and saw them excel when they entered our public school system.
For the last 17 years Kara has worked as a behavioral consultant to families in the county.
She’s seen the challenges facing our underpaid and stressed neighbors and continues to help them work through difficulties. Knowing how to assess needs and focus on sensible solutions is second-nature to her.
In 2007 Kara organized her Bowmanstown community to stand up against plans to store toxic waste in the borough. That was the beginning of her involvement in local political work. She took up the call to serve her community in an official capacity when she was appointed to the Bowmanstown planning commission, starting in 2011. Soon she was elected to the Bowmanstown Borough Council, and has been elected by fellow Council members to preside as Council president. Kara founded the Bowmanstown Area Residents Connected community group, which offers services and fun, community-building events that bring neighbors together.
She regularly volunteers for Family Promise, serving the needs of homeless families in Carbon County.
Kara is a charter member of the Carbon County Council of Governments (COG), and was this year she was voted in by municipal officials from throughout the County as vice president of the organization. The COG serves 20 of 23 municipalities in Carbon County, pooling resources and entering joint agreements that save county residents’ tax dollars while cutting down on waste and duplication. She is has served as a board member for the Pennsylvania Community Rights Network since its inception.
Today she maintains her active membership in all these organizations while offering her experience and dedication to Carbon County residents as a candidate for Representative in the Pennsylvania General Assembly for the 122nd district.
Amy Cozze, Pennsylvania State House District 137
Born and raised in the Lehigh Valley, Amy Cozze was an honors graduate of Southern Lehigh High School. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Business Administration. She then returned to the Lehigh Valley, where she met her husband Andrew Cozze. They moved to the Slate Belt region to work alongside the Cozze family at Deerfoot Auto Parts, a successful family-owned and 40-year auto recycling and service business. For six years, she did everything from transporting engines to launching the international internet sales department.
Over time, Amy knew she wanted to embark on her own professional endeavor. She made the move to start her own business from the ground up. She embraced the many challenges and went from not knowing how to bake a cookie to creating award-winning, custom wedding cakes in less than two years, earning a place in the Hall of Fame of Weddings in less than four years. She has consistently succeeded in not only learning new skills, but at mastering them. Her bakery, Cozze Cakes, located in the heart of Nazareth, has received numerous accolades both locally and nationally, and has been featured in publications such as The Knot and The Huffington Post.
As her business has grown, so has her desire to give back to the community. She has been a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber for the past five years, and a board member of the Nazareth Business Council for the last two years. Most recently, she was appointed as liaison for the Chamber’s Public Policy Committee. She has always been a strong supporter of union labor, having two brothers and a nephew who are Local 19 Sheet Metal workers. In addition to being a mother to two wonderful boys, she is also a breast cancer survivor, and a vocal and sensible advocate for my community.
Joseph Webster, Pennsylvania State House District 150
From the neighborhoods of Philadelphia to the halls of the Pentagon, Joe Webster’s life has been one of service, leadership, and accomplishment. His work ethic has driven a career spanning the military, academia, and business, moving him across the country and into many parts of the world. He and his wife, Laura, and their three children, came home to Pennsylvania in 2011, where they live on the banks of the Perkiomen Creek.
Part of the first generation in his large family to attend college, Joe was appointed to the Air Force Academy at age 18. He completed his studies as a member of the first female/male integrated graduating class. He furthered his education by attending the Naval War College as well as by obtaining a PhD in Public Policy from George Washington University.
As a Colonel in the Air Force, Joe managed the modernization program for the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve forces as they deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Overall, he worked for 20 years in the Pentagon on special government projects and as a legislative liaison between the US Congress and the Air Force.
Joe was there, on September 11, 2001, when the Pentagon was attacked. Over the following 18 months, he served our country in 32 different countries.
As an educator, Joe taught Speech Communications, Executive Writing and Western Civilizations/Values at the US Air Force Academy. He also teaches National Security Policy for the Air University in Montgomery, AL.
In 2004, Joe began a new career in business development/customer relations with a small start-up company in King of Prussia, and then as a VP of Mission Services for a global 500 company. He also founded Convergence Music, a nonprofit that specializes in event management and promotion through volunteerism and fundraising. In 2017, Convergence Music donated 100% of its Tall Trees Music Festival proceeds to Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Melissa Shusterman, Pennsylvania State House District 157
Melissa Shusterman is a 4th-generation resident of the greater Phoenixville area, currently residing in Schuylkill Township with her husband Hans, son Paris, and beloved Shih Tzu, Zoey.
While raising her son as a single mother, she founded her own business, Fedora Media. Fedora Media is a digital video production company that provides high quality digital video for various devices and platforms. Prior to founding Fedora Media, Melissa worked for several start-ups and national media companies such as The Food Network, VH1, fx, HGTV, MTV, QVC, and fuse network. She is very active in her community and with local charities.
Melissa is not a career politician; she's a passionate citizen who loves her community and is fed up with the political gridlock in Harrisburg. As Representative, Melissa will fight to protect seniors, put Pennsylvania on the path to fiscal responsibility, and put an end to the Keystone tests. Melissa has the business and life experience, commitment to our community, and new ideas needed to make an effective, no-nonsense legislator who will make Pennsylvania a better place.
Claudette Williams, Pennsylvania State House District 176
Claudette Williams, a proven leader and problem-solver, delivers keynote addresses and presentations drawing upon her experience from her roles as Sergeant Major in the United State Army. Personal endeavors of overcoming statistics and accessing higher goals led her to achieving the rank of Sergeant Major, a position that is attained by less than one percent of the Armed Forces.
With 30 years of service in the United States Army, her missions included serving in Operation Iraq Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn. Claudette has led her soldiers in missions to Iraq, Afghanistan, Dubai, the Oman regions, Kuwait, and several other areas in Southwest Asia.
Claudette is the President of Council for the borough of Mt Pocono. She is the first woman of color to be elected to this position. She is also the Chair of the Monroe County Democratic Committee and the first African American to hold the chair of any political party in the County’s history. She also serves as a police commissioner for the Pocono Regional Police and once again is the first African American to hold a seat as a Commissioner.
A longtime resident of Mount Pocono, Claudette serves as an active community member. She is involved in many aspects of the community such as the African American Network, National Council of Negro Women, the Veteran of Foreign Wars, the League of Women Voters, the Disabled American Veterans, and a member of the PA State Veteran Causes, to name a few.
Her latest project is helping individuals in her community to gain permanent residence and citizenship through United State Consultee and Immigration Service (USCIS) and Homeland Security. She is the mother of three children, Brianna, and fraternal twins Kwame and Niambi.
Patty Smith, Pennsylvania State House District 104
Patty Smith has worked extensively in local government management. She has worked in the private and non-profit sectors as well as having been a small business owner. She is a Certified Public Manager from Millersville University and has extensive experience managing multi-million-dollar government budgets and projects.
She volunteers her time in the community promoting sensible development, adequate infrastructure, smart land use, traffic solutions, animal rescue, and she works with Rock the Capital fighting and exposing government corruption and waste on the state and local levels.
She has been married for more than 17 years to her husband Brad who is an avid hunter and sportsman. They love to travel, scuba dive, and enjoy the outdoors with their two dogs Baxter and Bailey. She is a life-long resident of Dauphin County, where her family has owned and operated a local business since her grandfather started it in 1956.
Sara Johnson Rothman, Pennsylvania State House District 151
Sara Johnson Rothman is a former special victims prosecutor, an education law attorney, the Vice President of the Upper Dublin School Board, and a mom of two children.
Sara attended Temple University for law school and found a love for trial advocacy. An internship with the Bucks County District Attorney's Office led to a full-time position as an Assistant District Attorney. She specialized in crimes against women and children during her tenure as well as supervising the internship program and overhauling the first time offender program.
Sara left the DA's Office after the birth of her second child, but wanted to continue helping others in her community. A member of the Upper Dublin School Board announced his resignation in December of 2013 and Sara decided to apply to fill the vacancy. In February of 2014, she was appointed to the School Board and subsequently elected in November of 2015 (4 year term).
As a school board member, Sara is the Chair the Policy Committee, serves on the Operations Committee, and serves on the District's contract negotiating teams. Since becoming Chair of the Policy Committee, Sara has led the update of hundreds of the District's policies and administrative regulations including the anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. In May of 2016, Upper Dublin became the second school district in Pennsylvania to adopt a policy protecting gender expansive and transgender students. One of Sara’s greatest accomplishments is playing an instrumental part in resolving a contentious contract negotiation with the District's teachers' union and, more importantly, improving the Board's relationship with the teachers' union.
Sara currently works as an education law attorney, representing several local school districts. She focuses her work on school policy.
Mary Popovich, Pennsylvania State House District 58
Mary Popovich is seeking the 58th district seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She is currently serving her third term as Mayor of the Borough of West Newton, the first woman to hold this office. Prior to her election as Mayor, she served as a member of borough council for three years.
As State Representative, Mary will encourage civic participation. She believes in open records, so constituents can better understand how the actions of their elected officials are affecting their daily lives. She encourages accountability of officials that work for you, so the people of our district do not have to endure hardships when the state budget is not passed by the deadline.
Mary is dedicated to fighting for proper funding appropriations to maintain sustainability for increasingly fractured communities, crumbling infrastructure, and underfunded schools. She looks forward to continuing her life-long dedication to education, and elevating the working class and under-privileged families of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Her legislative goals include job creation, eliminating blight through programs that support local government to accomplish this task, addressing drug addiction problems affecting families and communities through education and task force programs, and providing support for programs to enhance Fire, Police, and Emergency Management Agencies to keep communities safe.
Jennifer O’Mara, Pennsylvania State House District 165
Jennifer O’Mara’s dedication to public service is deeply rooted in her own experience, and her ability to deliver practical solutions has been similarly forged by her challenging personal journey.
Jennifer O’Mara was born in Southwest Philadelphia to a career firemen and a stay-at-home mom. After her father’s suicide when she was 13 years old, Jennifer and her family moved to Prospect Park, Delaware County. At Interboro High School, a caring public school teacher recognized that Jennifer was struggling to cope with her personal tragedy and encouraged her to channel her energies in a productive direction. Jennifer became a leader in student council, where she discovered a passion for government. She was selected to serve as a student representative on the Interboro School Board, and subsequently attended a leadership camp sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association of Student Council (PASC), an organization that Jennifer still volunteers for over a decade later.
As the daughter of a single mother, and with two younger brothers at home, affording college was a significant challenge. With the help of financial aid, student loans, and by working three part-time jobs, Jennifer O’Mara was able to attend West Chester University. She earned a dual degree in history and secondary education, and became certified to teach in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Jennifer O’Mara went on to earn a Master of Liberal Arts in English and history from the University of Pennsylvania, where she has been employed for five and a half years. She currently holds the position of Assistant Director of University Stewardship, working alongside her colleagues to steward the University's top donors. Jennifer also serves on the Board of Directors for PASC, and teaches organization and personal time management to high school students at the organization’s statewide leadership training program.
Jennifer and her husband, Bradford, were married in August 2017, and currently reside in Springfield, Pennsylvania, with their two cats.
While many might think of Pennsylvania as a blue state, Donald Trump’s victory punched a hole in the “blue wall” that Pennsylvania once represented. But on the state level, Republicans have long been influential. Republicans have controlled the State Senate since 1994, and currently have a 33 to 16 majority (with one vacancy). With the exception of a four-year period from 2007 to 2011, Republicans have controlled the State House since 1995, and currently have a 121 to 82 majority. These large majorities have given Republicans substantial power to push a destructive agenda in the Keystone State.
Despite Republican’s longtime control of the state legislature, Democrats have a substantial opportunity to retake both chambers in 2018. To do so, Democrats would need to win 10 State Senate seats and 20 State House seats. This year, they can take back the majority in both chambers.
EveryDistrict’s Legislative District Index (LDI) ranks state legislative districts on a scale from 100 to -100, using statewide elections data. Districts with a score of 100 would vote for statewide Democratic candidates by 100 points (with the Democratic candidate receiving 100% of the vote); districts with a score of -100 would vote for statewide Republican candidates by 100 points (with the Republican candidate receiving 100% of the vote).
EveryDistrict divides winnable districts into three categories: Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III. Tier I districts lean Democratic but are held by a Republican state legislator. Tier II districts lean slightly Republican, with a range of 0 up to -5. Tier III districts lean slightly more Republican, with a range of -5 up to -10. For more information about EveryDistrict’s LDI, please click here.
In 2018, only the even-numbered State Senate seats are on the ballot. Even with that limitation, there are more than 10 State Senate seats within reach. There are 6 even-numbered Senate Districts that lean Democratic (Tier I): Senate Districts 6, 12, 16, 26, 40, and 46. There are 4 Tier II districts: Senate Districts 10, 24, 38, and 44. Then, there are 4 Tier III districts: Senate Districts 20, 32, 34, and 50.
Districts 16 and 40 are based in and around Allentown, a former Democratic stronghold where Hillary Clinton struggled. Districts 6, 12, 24, 26, and 44 are all in the Philly area. Districts 32, 38, and 46 are outside of Pittsburgh in “Connor Lamb country.” District 34 represents an outside chance because of State College (home of the Nittany Lions), while District 50 is south of Erie.
In the State House, there are 18 seats that lean Democratic (Tier I): House Districts 18, 49, 58, 61, 74, 120, 152, 157, 162, 163, 142, 146, 150, 151, 170, 176, 177, and 189. There are 15 seats in the Tier II category: 4, 10, 46, 51, 52, 53, 104, 122, 137, 155, 158, 165, 167, 168, and 183.
Districts 122, 137, 176, 183, and 189 are based north of Allentown and Bethlehem. District 120 is outside of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Districts 18, 53, 61, 74, 142, 146, 150, 151, 152, 158, 155, 157, 162, 163, 165, 167, 168, 170, and 177 are all in the Philly area. Districts 10, 46, 49, 51, 52, and 58 are outside of Pittsburgh. District 171 covers State College, while District 104 has enough of Harrisburg to make it competitive.
What’s At Stake
Pennsylvania’s blue leanings haven’t stopped its Republican legislators from attempting to implement an ultra-conservative agenda.
While other states have implemented common-sense gun safety measures in the wake of mass shootings, Pennsylvania Republicans have refused to do so. Pennsylvania does not have an assault weapons ban, nor does it ban bump stocks. The Republican-controlled legislature has also refused to invest in workers; Pennsylvania’s minimum wage remains at the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour.
Pennsylvania college students graduate with more student debt on average that any other state. A Democratic legislature would invest in students and boost funding for higher education.
In 2017, Governor Tom Wolf vetoed a bill that would have implemented one of the strictest abortion bans in the country – banning abortion at 20 weeks, among other measures. Pennsylvania is the only state in the northeast without a law protecting individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. But Pennsylvania Republicans have refused to allow passage of the Pennsylvania Fairness Act, which would extend non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Pennsylvanians.
EveryDistrict endorses candidates in competitive districts that are committed to moving their communities forward, have strong connections to their districts, and have a campaign strategy in place to win. Click here to see the candidates we’ve endorsed. You can support them by donating or becoming a fundraising champion today.