Erin Vecchio challenges longtime Rep. Tony DeLuca in Democratic primary
Penn Hills School Board President Erin Vecchio said she hopes to achieve something no other politician has been able to do in more than three decades: defeat state Rep. Tony DeLuca.
Both enter the May 15 primary seeking the Democratic nod for the 32nd District seat, which covers Penn Hills, Verona, Blawnox and parts of O'Hara and Plum. No Republican is running in the district.
DeLuca has been the area's representative since 1983. It would be his 17th two-year term should he go on to win the general election in November. The last time he had a primary challenger was in 2014. DeLuca won with nearly 77 percent of the vote.
Vecchio, 59, a 1977 Penn Hills graduate, previously served on the school board from 1998 to 2009; her current term began in 2016.
Vecchio said her platform is about campaign finance reform, investment in local startup companies, particularly those developing renewable resources, decriminalizing marijuana possession, gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour within the next several years and taxing natural gas companies to increase revenue for education and to lower property taxes.
“We need to tax the export of Marcellus Shale,” she said. “Every other state does it but (Pennsylvania). That would fund your school district. People across the nation are decriminalizing marijuana and taxing it. We're so far behind on producing results for our taxpayers it's ridiculous. The polls show this is what they want. We have to start producing for our taxpayers instead of not.”
DeLuca, 80, said he is running on his record and on the merit of legislation he has proposed.
“I'm not going to take anything for granted,” DeLuca said. “We're going to run on our record. I've been able to forge a relationship with both my colleagues and the majority party in the House and been able to move legislation. I'm interested in health care issues, and we're going to continue on working on behalf of our constituents. I've always worked for everybody. Even though I'm a Democrat, I drop the label once I'm (in Harrisburg). I'm proud of my staff and the work they produce.”
Last month, the House passed a bill authored by DeLuca that would establish state health standards and a central registry for the tattoo and body piercing industry.
DeLuca recently introduced legislation that would require school districts to be more transparent with separation and settlement agreements with departing staff and limit the amount of times a school district could raise taxes beyond the state's Act 1 index formula without consent from taxpayers.
He also proposed bills that would establish early voting procedures and same-day voter registration; limit legislators' outside income to 35 percent of their base legislative salary; and require candidates holding a political office to resign their office prior to running for a new elected position. So far, they have not been approved by the House.
“My bills are about accountability and accessibility,” he said. “Earning and keeping the public trust are a public official's most important responsibilities.”