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Election 2022: The race to represent the 129th House District

Voters in the 129th Legislative District will have a choice when they head to the polls.

Reading City Councilwoman Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz, a Democrat, and retired teacher Barry Llewellyn, a Republican, are seeking the open House seat. The district includes parts of Reading and Spring Township as well as Sinking Spring, West Reading and Wyomissing.

The district has been represented by Spring Township Republican Jim Cox who announced he would not be seeking reelection following the approval of new legislative maps that significantly changed the district. Under the new map, several precincts in the city are included in the the district, which caused a dramatic change to its political and demographic makeup.

State representatives serve a two-year term and receive an annual salary of $95,432.

We asked the candidates to respond to four questions:

Democrat Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz

Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz
Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz

Residence: Reading.

Age: 49.

Background: Cepeda-Freytiz has served on Reading City Council since 2019 and is the owner of Mi Casa Su Casa in downtown Reading. She has a bachelor’s degree in French from the State University of New York at New Paltz College and a master’s degree in education from Long Island University. She serves of the board of directors of the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance and Centro Hispano.

Website: facebook.com/FriendsofJohannyCepeda

Why should voters elect you and not your opponent?

I bring the experience necessary to start working for you on day one. I have over 15 years providing exceptional customer service as a small-business owner of Mi Casa Su Casa Cafe, a staple restaurant in downtown Reading. My business has weathered multiple economic storms — COVID-19, the crash of 2008 and now with the rise of inflation.

On day one, I will provide exceptional constituent services to you. I currently serve as president of Reading City Council; as a result, I bring the legislative acumen that is needed, willing to work on both sides of the aisle in Harrisburg in order to bring the necessary services to our district.

Assuming your victory, choose a single issue you would prioritize in the coming term — name it and describe what you want to accomplish.

Small business equity. As a small-business owner, I felt the pain of bureaucracy and the fluctuation of our economy so I want to be a strong advocate for small business owners. It was evident during COVID-19, the sector of our business community that was most impacted were small business owners. Since small businesses are the backbone of our economy, I would be an advocate in Harrisburg to create incentives that would continue to stabilize small-business owners in order for them to bolster our economy. In addition to streamlining processes that impact small-business owners on a daily basis.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade now leaves the decision about how to regulate abortions up to individual states. Describe the abortion legislation that you would like to see enacted in Pennsylvania?

I fully support a woman’s right to choose, and I will continue to fight for women’s rights as long as I can. For me, this is not a grandstanding platform, this is personal — I will stand for women’s right to choose. The current legislation in Pennsylvania allows women to have access which I support.

Pennsylvania, like the rest of the nation, is suffering through a period of severe inflation. What specific steps do you believe need to be taken to address this issue?

It is important to note that the House of Representatives does not have federal oversight as it pertains to effects of inflation. However, when elected to be your state legislator, I will work diligently with our federal legislators to address issues of inflation and be a voice for the 129th District. Once elected, my commitment is to conduct periodic action oriented discussions with my constituents as well as quarterly meetings with our federal legislators.

Republican Barry Llewellyn

Barry Llewellyn
Barry Llewellyn

Residence: Sinking Spring.

Age: 65.

Background: Llewellyn is a retired teacher, having taught in the Reading School District, the Twin Valley School District and at St. Ignatius Loyola Regional School. Before that, he worked for 18 years as an environmental scientist. He has a biology and chemistry degree from Elizabethtown College and an elementary education degree from Alvernia University.

Website: barry129.com

Why should voters elect you and not your opponent?

Working in the private sector for GPU Nuclear as an environmental scientist and then as an elementary classroom teacher and high school coach in public schools, has given me a unique perspective on many of the challenges before the citizens of our area.

My upbringing also provides a common thread with many in this district. My dad is a Korean War Navy veteran and a retired DANA steelworker. My mom was the daughter of Italian immigrants and the most loving and caring stay-at-home mom a kid could ever have. They moved from the coal region when I was an infant to raise me in West Reading. I spent all of my adult life in this area and I feel like I know the priorities of its residents.

I will fight to eliminate property taxes so seniors on a fixed income and others are not forced to leave their homes. I will rein in government spending and reduce burdensome regulations on businesses to make our district a more business-friendly area and create more jobs. I believe in respecting, appreciating and funding our police to make our district a safer place to live and raise a family.

Assuming your victory, choose a single issue you would prioritize in the coming term — name it and describe what you want to accomplish.

My main issue and reason for running is to eliminate school property taxes, especially for seniors. No one should be forced to leave the home that they have spent a lifetime caring for and investing in because they can’t afford the taxes. I would like to talk to Rep. Frank Ryan before he retires about his reform bill on this issue, which has been sitting in the House Finance Committee since February. I’d also like to know more about his plans for a constitutional amendment that embodies the spirit of the bill.

As many other homeowners can relate, I am disappointed with legislators continually promising to eliminate school property taxes, tinkering around the edges with rebates and temporary fixes, but never actually eliminating them with a permanence on which we can rely.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade now leaves the decision about how to regulate abortions up to individual states. Describe the abortion legislation that you would like to see enacted in Pennsylvania?

I recognize that this is an extremely emotional and contentious issue. On one side, you have people who want to completely ban abortion. On the other side, you have EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood extremists who support abortion on demand for any reason, including partial birth and sex selection up to the delivery date. I believe the voters in this district, as in most of our state, have a viewpoint that is somewhere in the middle.

If I were part of negotiating legislation on this issue, I would support a heartbeat bill similar to those proposed in other states with exceptions for life of the mother, rape and incest. I’ve heard many talking heads say we should ‘follow the science’ when it comes to climate change and other issues. But for some reason science, especially embryology, is conveniently ignored when it comes to abortion. As a college graduate with a degree in biology and chemistry, I wonder why, if a person is declared dead when the heartbeat stops, why should a ‘person’ not be declared alive when the heartbeat starts?

Pennsylvania, like the rest of the nation, is suffering through a period of severe inflation. What specific steps do you believe need to be taken to address this issue?

I believe the main cause for inflation has been the punitive tack that our current administrations in Washington and Harrisburg  have taken with regard to the fossil fuel industry. As recently as a few years ago, we were an energy-independent country, and now we are once again dependent on less than friendly nations to supplement our energy needs, increasing our consumer costs.

I would like to see our state and national government encourage and support more responsible and safe drilling and fracking to take full advantage of our rich natural resources. This will reduce energy costs and gas prices once again to where they were just recently. With reduced gas prices come reduced production costs and transportation costs, thereby lowering the overall costs of all goods. I would also look for a way to eliminate the state’s gas tax, one of the highest in the nation. In addition, I vow to review all spending bills with the perspective that this is not the government’s money; this is the taxpayer’s money and it should be spent prudently and never wasted.


Source: Berkshire mont

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