Progressive Candidates Challenging Status Quo in Rural PA
Monday, October 25, 2021
ERIE, Pa. -- The Keystone State is seeing several barrier-breaking progressive candidates running for office in unexpected places: rural Pennsylvania.
The trend of progressive Democrats running for office is not unique to Pennsylvania. It has been increasing since the 2016 election, everywhere from Maine to Virginia to Iowa.
Tyler Titus is running for Erie County Executive. A victory would mean Titus would be the first openly transgender county executive in the country. Titus tells of experiencing rural generational poverty firsthand, growing up in a small-town southeast of Erie, and said poverty solutions need a holistic and progressive approach, whether in urban or rural America.
"When you talk on progressive values that center around people and not just profit, you can win in purple spaces, you can win in red spaces," Titus asserted. "And I think that we see a momentum shifting. And that's exciting, and it shows that I really think that the U.S. is at a time of reckoning."
Titus is running against Republican Brenton Davis, a small-business owner and military veteran, in the Nov. 2 election.
The small Rust Belt city of Beaver Falls, northwest of Pittsburgh, may elect its first Black woman mayor next week.
Kenya Johns is a lifelong resident of Beaver Falls who defeated Democrat incumbent George Quay in May and currently is unopposed in the November election. Johns said her success speaks to the importance of uplifting voices reflective of the communities they represent.
"It's going to show that although we talk about needing diversity, equity and inclusion, we're at a space now where we can't just talk about it," Johns contended. "We need to be able to put people in that can make sustainable change. That's what the future of America looks like. It looks like brothers helping brothers, sisters helping sisters, to make a better place, a better environment, for all of us."
Mayor Quay is attempting a write-in campaign to have his name on the ballot. Johns' running mates, Peggy Evans and Vanessa Taylor, who are both running for City Council, also won in the May primary.
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