When U.S. Senator Bob Casey, D-Pa., visited Wilkinsburg last week for lunch and a meet and greet event, Mayor Marita Garrett said she was happy and excited to have him—not just because he’s a friend and supporter, but because of what it means to her city.
“What this says to me is we’re on the map. We’ve gone through a down time, but there’s a renaissance going on here,” she told the crowd. “It speaks to where we’re headed. It’s us working for us—banding together. And Senator Casey has been a champion for all of that, for small businesses and small communities across the state. So, we need to come out and vote and keep him in office.”
Senator Casey thanked Garrett and the other assembled elected Democrats who came out to the Sept. 4 event at Salvatore’s on Penn Ave., including Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, state Sen. Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, and state Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Larimer.
“Jay and Ed are fighting a similar battle in Harrisburg, being in the minority,” Sen. Casey said. “When I got to Washington, that wasn’t the case, but now I know what it’s like. It’s difficult. We’re always running uphill, and it’s even more so when the Republican Party is backed by the hard right, corporate right.”
Senator Casey said the Republicans’ attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the passage of the last round of tax cuts that disproportionally benefited the wealthiest taxpayers should be a wake-up call for voters.
“There’s only one solution—you’ve got to win the election,” he said. “Re-elect Gov. Wolf. And these (U.S. House of Representatives) races—we have a chance to elect more women in Pennsylvania in one night than we have cumulatively in the last 50 years.”
Later, in response to a question from Wilkinsburg School Board Representative Klara Brown about how he and the Senate might pressure states to make school funding more equitable for poor urban and rural districts, Sen. Casey said he will continue to fight for Title 1 funding increases, which go to economically-distressed districts.
“We also have to keep Betsy DeVos from working to use public money to fund private, for-profit charter schools,” he said.
Following the formal event, Sen. Casey told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an exclusive interview that since his last election he has visited all 67 counties across Pennsylvania and now, on a second tour, has re-visited nearly 50.
“All of them have challenges, struggles but also successes that need to be celebrated,” Sen. Casey said. “And their stories inform how I vote. I think the two biggest issues going forward are raising wages and preserving healthcare. I think raising wages may be the biggest challenge of our time.”
(Courier photographer J.L. Martello contributed to this report.)
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