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Candidates in Pa. 140th state House District ready for special election

Credit: Pennsylvania Capital-Star

John Cole, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
February 11, 2024

On Tuesday, voters in Pennsylvania’s 140th state House District will head to the polls for a special election to determine whether Democrat Jim Prokopiak or Republican Candace Cabanas will represent them in Harrisburg. And while the outcome of the election won’t determine the balance of power in the House after the immediate resignation of GOP Rep. Joe Adams (R-Wayne) on Friday, Democrats are hoping to add to their one-seat majority.

The seat opened up in December when longtime Democratic state Rep. John Galloway resigned after being elected district judge.

Both candidates spoke to the Capital-Star about why they believe they are best qualified to represent the district in the state Legislature.

Prokopiak, a licensed attorney, was first elected to Pennsbury School Board in 2021 and was reelected in 2023. He served as a Falls Township Supervisor from 2002 to 2009.

“I have over a decade of experience serving this community, both as a supervisor and as a school board member,” Prokopiak told the Capital-Star. “I’ve been involved in my community as a coach for recreational leagues. I know the issues we face and how we can solve some of those issues here in lower Bucks County.”

Prokopiak said the American dream is getting further away for too many people and said that there’s a lack of “attainable housing” locally.

“If people work hard, they should be able to get a livable wage, they should be able to take care of their families, put a roof over their head, make sure they have adequate health care and a pathway to retirement,” Prokopiak said.

Prokopiak said he believes that Pennsylvania’s minimum wage should be $15 an hour, although “any movement over the existing federal wage would be an improvement.” He added that with surrounding states raising their minimum wage, it’s “unconscionable” that Pennsylvania has not raised its $7.25 hourly minimum wage since 2009.

Last year, the state House passed a bill that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026, but the bill did not pass the state Senate. Gov. Josh Shapiro repeated his support for raising the minimum wage during his budget address.

Prokopiak said he thinks Shapiro has done a good job as governor, and lauded Shapiro’s call to comply with the state Commonwealth Court’s decision to adequately fund public education and provide additional funding for school renovations.

“I support Gov. Shapiro and I support many of his initiatives that are there,” Prokopiak said. “I believe that if we were to implement a majority of what he talked about, Pennsylvania would be a better place than it is today.”

On a Friday call with reporters, Prokopiak said as a father of three, including twin teenage girls he thinks about their futures. “Pennsylvania Republicans have made it their mission to destroy reproductive health care in this state, and they’ve come pretty close,” he said. “My opponent likes to try and downplay the issue, in fact, she refuses to even state her stance on the issue.” He added that he would vote against any abortion ban, “not just for my daughters’ future, but for every daughter’s future in Pennsylvania.”

Prokopiak has received support from abortion rights groups for his position.

Cabanas touts working class background

Cabanas is a restaurant server who previously worked in a retirement community. She’s originally from Lancaster County, but says she moved to Bucks County about five years ago with her family.

She’s been involved with the Bucks County Republican Committee and was previously involved in the local Republican committee in Lancaster County. Cabanas believes her working-class background makes her best positioned to represent the district.

“We have a lot of white collar people, a lot of attorneys, and they’re important, to have their views as well,” she told the Capital-Staradded. “I just feel like there’s not as much representation for the typical working class person like myself.”

Cabanas said inflation is top of mind for many in the community, along with border security. She said when talking to voters she hears a lot about “inflation, supporting small businesses, and keeping our streets safe,” as well as concerns about education and affordable healthcare.

On the minimum wage, Cabanas didn’t have a specific figure in mind, but wanted to consult with residents in the district to get their thoughts. She said she didn’t have a specific position on abortion, but wanted to represent the community and the voters in the district on the issue.

One thing Cabanas said she’s encountered while knocking on doors is the Republican party’s front runner for the top of the ticket, former President Donald Trump.

“I have heard some people say, ‘well I can’t vote for you because your party is the party of Trump’,” she told the Capital-Star. “And something that I’ve tried to clarify is, sir, you know, this is a local election.”

Cabanas says she emphasizes local community issues to voters, like taxes and traffic patterns.

“I try to remind people regardless of where you are nationally with presidential issues, national issues, a vote for me is not necessarily a vote for Trump,” she said. “This is the Pa. state House and so most of our issues are within the boundaries of Pennsylvania itself.”

Shapiro, Cabanas said, seems to be “trying to find that moderate path,” in governing. If she’s elected, she added, her goal would be to work together with everyone regardless of party. She had not yet watched Shapiro’s budget address when she spoke to the Capital-Star on Thursday, but said she was “curious” where the governor would stand on helping underfunded schools, and said Shapiro’s previous comments of seeming “open to the idea of school choice” as an area they could potentially work on together.

Tuesday will be the first time the voters of the state House district in Lower Bucks County will not see Galloway’s name on the ballot since 2006. During his most recent reelection bid in 2022, Galloway ran unopposed for the seat, and in 2020, he defeated Republican challenger Jeanine McGee by 20 points.

Democrats hold a registration advantage in the district and Joe Biden bested Donald Trump by 10 points there in 2020.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) announced a $50,000 investment into Pennsylvania’s House Democratic Caucus on Jan. 30, underscoring national Democrats’ push for the seat.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.