Have you ever met a politician or candidate and everything word they spoke sounds like it is part of a script of well polled and rehearsed lines? I’ve met a few, and I have to say, Brad Koplinski is not one of them.

Brad Koplinski for PA Lt GovernorThis morning, I had the opportunity to meet Brad for coffee, and I walked away really impressed by the level of dialogue I had with a person I had only spent about 30 minutes with. I’m looking forward to more discussions, because if we could start at this level, I’m thrilled thinking about what is coming. Currently Brad is a a council person in Harrisburg, but has plenty of experience surrounding campaigns and government, and he hopes to be Pennsylvania’s next Lieutenant Governor. He is by far the most progressive of the candidates currently running, yet I think he has ideas and qualities that make him appealing to all sorts of Pennsylvania voters.

I learned two things about the importance of the Lieutenant Governor post and why it is important for voters to think about this choice as much as the Governor’s choice.

  1. The Lt Governor sits on the PA Marcellus Shale Commission.While no one in their right mind believes we can end all fracking in the Keystone State, we can expect the commission to guide how the State acts in relation to these efforts. Marcellus Shale is an economic as well as an environmental issue and we need elected officials to do the hard work evaluating how best to proceed. Under our current Republican administration, the Big Oil and Gas companies have been raking in massive profits while the State isn’t adequately benefiting or protecting our natural resources.
  2. The Lt Governor is a part of the Local Government Advisory Committee, and therefore plays a role in how State money  can best benefit local communities and how these communities can work together for the betterment of the State.Too often water money is the result of too little planning, management or understanding of the whole of a project. Money is spent, projects don’t live up to the expectations, and things fall apart or end up costing far more in the end. It isn’t that we need bigger government or more oversight- rather what we need are individuals willing to do the hard work to think through complex decisions and oversee projects so that they remain cost effective, accountable and productive. The interactions and relationships between the State and these local and regional govern,nets are a crucial piece in making that happen.

Brad expressed much interest inn how the State funds infrastructure and the basic budget needs of government like Education. This appeals to me in a big way, even as a LGBTQ advocate. Especially a focus on Education. Under the current Administration, and most Republican control, Public Education is hindered  in favor of funding vouchers for private educational venues such as religious schools.  It isn’t that these institutions can’t provide a good quality education, rather they always come with strings attached, pushing some religious doctrinal agenda which most often is not inclusive and respectful of everyone. Public Schools are a primary location for teaching our youth to be respectful and supportive of diversity. But if schools struggle simply to stay open and teach math or science, how is out that any energy can be devoted to the less didactic subject matter like interpersonal relations, cultural competency, and respect for difference? Schools can only turn to these when the basics are covered and not under siege.

Brad also seems to be on top of understanding LGBTQ issues in a big way. While Marriage Equality seems to be the trendy issue of the day, the reality is that our state is way behind others in that we don’t even offer state-wide non-discrimination protections. These protections, hate crimes legislation, anti-bullying protections- all of these need to be put in place before Marriage can be fully meaningful here in Pennsylvania.

I’ll write further about Brad and other candidates as we move closer to next year’s election. Truly voters in the areas of Pennsylvania where many of my readers live will be instrumental for whomever can win. It will be up to you as we set the direction for Pennsylvania through the politicians we elect to run our state,


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