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McKeesport Dem cites education, development as among top priorities
State Sen. Jim Brewster speaks during a breakfast for veterans last month in White Oak. (Photo courtesy state Sen. Jim Brewster)
Saying “public service is about reaching out and meeting the needs of those you represent,” State Sen. Jim Brewster kicked off his re-election campaign Friday with a rally at the Monroeville municipal building.
Brewster, a Democrat from McKeesport, is seeking his third full term representing the 45th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.
The former McKeesport mayor, who was first elected to the state senate in 2010 to replace former state Sen. Sean Logan, pledged to seek bipartisan solutions to problems in education, economic development, job creation and infrastructure upgrades.
“By working side-by-side, and with the goal of helping everyone, we can do more and that is why I am seeking another term in the state Senate,” Brewster said in prepared remarks delivered Friday. “The district has a large geographic footprint, the communities are diverse, and the people are strong, vibrant and energized, yet there are challenges to overcome.
“We have made progress and have had success, but it is time to build up and out on the strong foundation that’s been established,” he said.
A former vice president of operations for Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh, Brewster is a graduate of California University of Pennsylvania who began his political career in 1995 as a McKeesport city councilman. He served as council president for seven years before being elected mayor in 2004.
Brewster is a lifelong resident of McKeesport. He and his wife Linda have three children, including Jamie Brewster-Filotei, a McKeesport city councilwoman, and seven grandchildren.
The 45th District includes much of the Mon Valley in Allegheny County, including McKeesport, Braddock, Clairton, Duquesne, Elizabeth, Glassport and West Mifflin; Monroeville and Plum; parts of the South Hills; and Arnold, Lower Burrell, New Kensington and several other municipalities in Westmoreland County.
The state Senate has been in Republican control since 1994.
Brewster currently serves as minority (Democratic) chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee and the Game and Fisheries Committee. He is Vice Minority Chair of the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, and also serves as a member on the Senate Banking and Insurance, Education and Transportation committees.
He is also a board member of the Port Authority of Allegheny County.
At Friday’s announcement, Brewster said that over the past two years, he has been able to obtain $15 million in grants for municipalities in his district.
“No stone has been left unturned in the effort to bring state resources back to our area,” Brewster said. “I’ve worked with citizens and elected officials from across the region to ensure that we get our fair share and that all voices are heard.”
In recent years, Brewster has been a vocal proponent of reforming Pennsylvania’s charter school laws and adding security to public schools. Brewster also has been a strong advocate for completing the Mon-Fayette Expressway from Jefferson Hills into Pittsburgh, and for use of American-made steel in Pennsylvania infrastructure projects.
Brewster also has argued for better treatment options for people addicted to opioids.
This year, Brewster led a joint Democratic-Republican effort to permit hunting on Sundays in Pennsylvania. The legislation was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf in November.
Because the U.S. Census will be taken in 2020, Pennsylvania’s congressional districts will be redrawn, and control of the state General Assembly and state Senate will determine what those districts look like.
Brewster has already attracted at least one potential Republican challenger. In November, a Westmoreland County attorney, Nicole Ziccarelli of Lower Burrell, announced plans to seek the Republican nomination for Brewster’s seat.
On Friday, Ziccarelli released a statement that called Brewster’s record “deeply troubling” and alleged that he is “a committed vote in support of his party’s extremists from Philadelphia.”
Calling Brewster a “career politician,” Ziccarelli accused him of seeking “massive hikes” in state income and sales taxes, and said the district needs “a fresh voice.”
For his part, Brewster defended his record and his willingness to work with leaders of both parties.
“My belief is that we can address key issues in a thoughtful, bipartisan manner that benefits all our citizens,” he said. “We have taken many steps forward, but the race is not over, our job is not done, and we can go even further.”
The district would be best served, Brewster argued Friday, by retaining his experience.
“To be successful and ensure that the region is well-served in Harrisburg, you must develop relationships and have credibility,” he said. “With my years of experience, contacts, and ability to work across the aisle, we can continue to get results and make life better for all the citizens in the region.”
This article was written by Tube City Almanac editor Jason Togyer from prepared statements and Tube City Almanac file material.
Originally published December 07, 2019.