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State Rep. Austin Davis has served the 35th District for the last two years and says he has much more that he’d like to get accomplished.
“I think we’ve done a lot in a short amount of time,” Davis said. “Most recently, I was involved in securing the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency tax credit that will finance an $18 million revitalization project in Clairton.”
“I initially decided to run for office two years ago because I grew up in the Mon Valley,” Davis said. “I went to McKeesport High School. I wanted to use my experience to help my community. I want to make the Mon Valley the best place that it can be. I want to find ways for disadvantaged children to have more opportunities.”
Education: McKeesport High School, 2008; B.A., political science, University of Pittsburgh, 2012
Career: state representative, 35th Legislative District; executive assistant to Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald; vice chairman of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee
In addition to economic development, Davis is concerned about social justice and police reform.
“I am introducing legislation for a Citizen Police Review Board where all departments in Allegheny County would fall under its jurisdiction,” Davis said. “When someone filed a complaint about an officer, it would be investigated, and then proper action could be taken with that officer.
“I want to incorporate some form of a regular certification where officers who do not act according to their code of conduct could potentially lose their certificate to operate as a police officer,” he said. “In many other industries people are required to obtain yearly or regular certification and this is no different.”
Davis is also concerned about the $5 billion deficit currently facing Pennsylvania, caused by lost tax revenues and emergency expenditures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I sit on the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees budget issues,” Davis said. “I plan on being heavily involved in helping to fix the budget.”
Though Davis has many important issues that he would like to tackle if re-elected, the continuing pandemic and its aftermath is overshadowing many of them.
According to the CDC, Pennsylvania is among the states with the lowest rate of COVID-19 cases, ranking eighth-lowest, between Washington and Colorado.
“I think this was one of our biggest accomplishments,” Davis said. “I worked closely with the county health department to ensure we had local testing facilities and many mobile testing sites. We secured millions of dollars for the local schools to obtain supplies so that every child could learn remotely.”
Helping rebuild the local economy and small businesses to recover is an area where Davis plans to spend his time, if re-elected.
“My mother was a hair-dresser and my father was a bus driver,” Davis said. “I’m a middle-class guy. I want nothing more than to see small businesses recover and succeed. This is why I support former Vice President Joe Biden for President. I was a delegate for Joe at the Democratic National Convention. I think we can find a way to reduce pollution across Allegheny County and continue to grow jobs and support small businesses.”
Asked what he would like voters to remember about him as they cast their ballots, Davis said, “that I accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. I’ve proven that I can deliver and I’m willing to do what it takes.”
Jason A. Mignanelli is a freelance writer from Pittsburgh’s North Hills and a student at Duquesne University. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published October 29, 2020.