Education, ideas, drive and determination, those are the qualities 32nd District Pennsylvania House Representative candidate Kristopher J. Wiegand, Esq., believes are needed in a leader and the key differences between him and his opponent, long-time Democratic State Representative Anthony DeLuca Sr.
With his hunger and passion to move the district, which encompasses Penn Hills, Verona, Blawnox and part of the Plum area, forward; Wiegand is committed to fighting and giving his all up until the very end when voters cast their ballots on Tuesday, May 20, in the upcoming Primary Election.
Recently, Wiegand sat down and spoke with the New Pittsburgh Courier, on everything from his opponent and idea, to why he wants to represent the 32nd district.
“Public service is what I’ve always wanted to do. I always wanted to make a difference and do something to make things better,” Wiegand said. “The people deserve an advocate that’s hungry to make a difference for them and who’s ready to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. And I’m hungry.”
Wiegand, a Pittsburgh native who grew up in the Point Breeze area, has been a resident of Penn Hills for the last 10 years, where he lives with his wife and their two young daughters. But to him, Penn Hills was always his home. Wiegand said his parents grew up in the area and his grandparents, who were like second parents to him, also lived there for many years, leaving him to spend just as much time there as in Pittsburgh.
“It has been the same old, same old. I say, ‘I will do everything Tony’s doing and more.’ You can’t just put a little band-aid on things; if we’re going to turn the community around then we need to take big action, not just have a picnic and send a birthday card once a year and think that’ll be okay. And everyone will still get their birthday card,” Wiegand joked. “But we can do so much more when we have someone with the education, background, energy, determination and drive to do something.”
And plenty of education and background are what Wiegand believes he has. He is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and Black history, a master’s degree in public administration with a focus in social and urban development, and later his law degree. Wiegand has also worked with City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning; Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ralph Cappy; with former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge’s Office of General Counsel in the Department of Labor & Industry and the State Employee Retirement System; and recently he has opened his own practice, The Law Spot P.C. He also worked with the 2012 re-election campaign of President Barack Obama as an organizer for the Eastern Allegheny County area. He was even given the honor to meet the man himself and the first lady.
Wiegand points out that while he has nine years of post-secondary education, DeLuca, 77, has two years of community college.
Along with his education and background, Wiegand also believes he has the ideas needed to better the district. While he said his opponent has no ideas, some of Wiegand’s “Campaign Cornerstone Ideas” include providing universal healthcare coverage that’s affordable through the placement of nurse practitioner-run clinics within the community; requiring “mega-nonprofits” to pay their “fair share” in property taxes to benefit local municipalities and its residents; implementing a gas extraction tax to provide royalties to Pennsylvania residents; reforming the cannabis laws to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize it; ending the discrimination of the LGBT community by extending the full marriage rights; and standardizing per-pupil funding to allocate money for underfunded schools.
“There are certain districts that have crew clubs and our school doesn’t have a music class. My daughter’s guidance counselor just told me they’re laying her off next year,” he said. “This woman, who’s a counselor, whose job it is to care about the kids, we’re taking that out. We’re taking away our best and most effective means to prevent (incidents like that of Franklin Regional from occuring).”
“We’ve had 32 years of Tony’s ideas. Do you know what they are? We don’t either!! We need new ideas and a new vision for the community,” states Wiegand on his campaign literature.
Along with his campaign cornerstones, Wiegand also has ideas on how to transform the negative reputation, many believe, Penn Hills has today, back to the positive one it once had.
“We need servant leadership, someone who is ready to get in there and do some work. I believe that a leader is someone who sets an example and a servant leader sets the very best example of all. It takes civic pride to get the community involves. When there’s civic pride, opportunity and hope, then that’s when things change. It’s when you’re stagnate and disenfranchised that negative things happen,” he said. Wiegand said he would like to implement monthly Community Involvement Days. “We are going to reach-out to the people, be involved and lead by example. It begins with outreach, it begins with service and doing these things promotes community welfare.”
But it’s Wiegand’s drive and determination to better the community that, he said, keeps him going, even through several of the obstacles he has encountered. In January, he shattered his right leg when he fell in a resident’s drive way while going door-to-door to hand out fliers, causing him to require surgery and months of rehabilitation. And recently, DeLuca challenged Wiegand’s petition to run for office, but the judged ruled in Wiegand’s favor.
“David only needed one rock (to go against Goliath) and I am just a man with one crutch and a dream,” Wiegand said. “We need a new vision and voice for the community. We need to think globally and act locally.”
(For more information about Wiegand, visit http://www.putwigtowork.com.)
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