Hundreds of protestors gathered in Harrisburg on Monday to protest the statewide stay-at-home order. The Pennsylvania State Senate passed a bill that would have reopened businesses in Pennsylvania but it was vetoed by Governor Tom Wolf. Wolf has extended the stay-at-home order to May 8.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there are nearly 36,000 active COVID-19 cases in the state, including over 1,500 new cases reported this week. Pennsylvania currently has the fifth most cases of any state. The death toll of COVID-19 in the U.S. has surpassed 46,000, with over 1,700 deaths in Pennsylvania, also the fifth most in the country.
Among the speakers addressing the crowd from the steps in front of the state capitol at Monday’s protest to rush Pennsylvanians back to work were State Representatives Aaron Bernstein (R) and Russell Diamond (R), who are both up for reelection this year.
Bernstine, who represents Pennsylvania’s 10th House District located in the western part of the state, will likely run against Democrat Kolbe Cole in November. Both Cole and Bernstine are running unopposed in the June 2 primary.
In 2018, Bernstine became the subject of a national controversy after tweeting, “If anyone ever tries to stop my car on a highway with negative intentions I will not stop under any conditions.” The tweet was made in reference to protests after the acquittal of a St. Louis police officer who was charged with first-degree murder of a suspect. In response to criticism over the remark, Bernstine tweeted he would not “be assaulted in the name of ‘free speech.’”
Bernstine’s likely challenger, Kolbe Cole, is a mental health advocate and a proponent of youth development and automatic voter registration. Cole is an opponent of gerrymandering, the manipulation of voting district boundaries in an attempt to gain political advantage. Pennsylvania’s 10th House District, which resembles something that might be scribbled onto an Etch A Sketch by a blindfolded person attempting to draw a giraffe, is an example of gerrymandering. Cole would be the first woman and first African-American to represent the 10th district in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. For more information on her campaign, visit her website: https://www.kolbeforpa10.com/
Rep. Russell Diamond is also no stranger to controversy. In 2014 a committee from within his own party urged Diamond to suspend his candidacy in light of two Protection from Abuse orders issued against him in 2013 and 2002. In 2013, Diamond allegedly attacked and threatened to kill his former girlfriend over a dispute regarding their cable connection. In 2002 Diamond allegedly attacked his former wife during a dispute over credit cards. Although both PFAs were later withdrawn, Diamond was fined for violating the earlier order while it was still active. Despite this information coming to light, Diamond won the 2014 election to represent Pennsylvania’s 102nd House District, which is located in Lebanon County.
Diamond and the Democrat likely to challenge him for his seat in November, Matthew Duvall, is running unopposed in the June 2 primary. Duvall is a former high school business teacher who holds a doctorate in educational leadership development and learning technologies. Duvall states on his Facebook page that he is “committed to improving and increasing Pennsylvanians’ access to high-quality public education from pre-K through college.” Duvall is also a proponent of making high-speed internet access available to all Pennsylvanians. Lack of reliable internet access is a problem that has become highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many students have experienced difficulty in completing the semester after schools shifted to online classes. Learn more about Matthew Duvall and his campaign at https://www.facebook.com/DuvallForPA/
Although these elections will take place outside of most NCC student and faculty’s voting districts, we can still help candidates whose policies we believe in by donating to their campaigns. Every vote counts and every dollar helps the cause.