Rallying the base: County Democrats hear from candidates at Saturday event

Times Observer photos by Josh Cotton Erin Willman, write-in candidate in Tuesday’s primary election for the Democratic nomination in the 65th District of the State House of Representatives, speaks during a Warren County Democrats event on Saturday at the Glade VFD.

“Margins matter.”

That was part of the message that Malcolm Kenyatta, running in a contested primary in Tuesday’s primary election, that he brought via Zoom to Warren County Democrats during their “Soup-er Voter Celebration” held Saturday at the Glade Township VFD.

Kenyatta was one of several candidates or surrogates for candidates that spoke during the event.

“It matters if government works or doesn’t work,” he said, outlining how the role of the auditor general is “finding ways government isn’t working and pulling together the people to fix it.

Kenyatta said his top priorities would be rebuilding the Bureau of School Audits as well as creating a Bureau of Labor and Worker Protection to “look at the full scope of your journey in the workforce.

Malcolm Kenyatta, one of two Democrats seeking the party’s nomination for auditor general, Zoomed in to the Democrat’s event at the Glade VFD on Saturday.

“I love being from Philadelphia,” he said. “The election is not going to be won in Philadelphia.

“Margins matter,” he said. “I think that it really matters whether or not you still talk to your neighbors and friends and have the type of turnout” that elected Gov. Shapiro.

“Votes in Warren County count just as good as a vote in Allegheny County,” he said.

Erin Willman, 65th District

Willman, who announced a couple weeks ago her write-in campaign to challenge Rep. Kathy Rapp in the 65th District of the state house, outlined what she believed.

“I believe that all people deserve to be treated as people,” she said. “I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on…. You are a person. You have worth. You have beliefs.

“You all have a voice,” she added. “You wouldn’t care who is on the ballot if you didn’t. I want to hear those, how you think the district can be better.”

Willman said that’s a priority because “for so long no one has been listening.”

She then outlined several policy areas — the importance of a strong school system, supporting small businesses and improving infrastructure.

“Anyone will tell you, the foundation of a community starts with the school system,” Willman said. “If you don’t have a strong school system, you have a weak community.”

She also stressed the importance of supporting “our small businesses and we need to promote them and help them succeed. That is how you keep people in our community.”

Zach Womer, 15th Congressional District

A Penn State law student from Philipsburg – Zach Womer – is challenging Glenn Thompson in the 15th Congressional District.

Womer pointed out that he’s from Center County but not State College.

“It’s been left behind just like Warren County,” he said of his hometown. “I grew up in poverty. I had to become an adult much sooner than your average person. No one in my family has seen financial success. At a certain point, I gave up. I thought I would never be anything. I thought I couldn’t transcend my circumstances.”

Football coaches opened his world and a scholarship paved his way to college.

“When I got to college, I was no longer in a room where I was unsafe,” he said, acknowledging that brought him a small piece of “privilege.”

He graduated from Denison University and is currently on a full scholarship at Penn State.

“Last fall, I started thinking about my life a little bit differently,” he said. “It’s illogical to ask the weak to bring up themselves. That’s what the other party does. The region I grew up in has been destroyed.”

Womer was particularly critical of apathy among Democrats in central Pennsylvania.

“We have to win,” he said, noting the two-party system has “left all of us behind and I won’t accept that.”

Dan Glotz, county commissioner

Glotz told county Democrats that four months in office has taught him that people want meetings and money.

He reiterated the commissioner’s open door policy.

“We try to maintain staffing there the whole time with at least one of the commissioners,” he said.

He reiterated his campaign platform — broadband, recreation opportunities and supporting local business.

The remaining speakers were addressing the crowd on behalf of other candidates.

P.J. Monella, speaking on behalf of Ryan Bizzarro who is one of three running for the Democratic nomination as state treasurer.

He said that Bizzarro is the first state-wide candidate from Northwest Pennsylvania in 30 years.

Monella also spoke in support of Willman’s challenge to Rapp.

“I am so joyful that you have someone to run against Kathy Rapp,” he said. “All she cares about is politics. (She’s) been in office so long she doesn’t care about anything (other) than keeping that seat.”

Kerith Strano spoke on behalf of Eugene DePasquale, who is seeking the nomination for attorney general.

She specifically spoke about his work in the child welfare space.

Jim Hickman, chair of the Northwest Caucus and a state committeeman, echoed Montella’s sentiment on Willman’s candidacy.

“I hope Warren County Democrats can come together for Erin and get (her) on the ballot,” he said. “You guys deserve a choice. Every voter deserves a choice. This is not North Korea.”


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