This is a banner year for elections in Southwestern Pennsylvania. On March 6, Pittsburghers elected the replacement of former District 8 City Councilman Dan Gilman, who stepped down to become Mayor Peduto’s chief of staff.
On March 13, voters in the 18th Congressional District went to the polls to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Tim Murphy.
On May 15, registered Democrats and Republicans will vote in their respective primaries in advance of the November midterms.
It is important for the Jewish community to have a strong turnout in each of these elections. Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, in order to ensure the well-being of our community, we must have a prominent voice with our elected officials at every level. There are many ways to achieve this, but the simplest and most important is by voting.
As a member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Community Relations Council (CRC), I regularly see the importance of relationships with elected officials. Strong leadership from these officials can help to secure federal and state funding for Jewish social service and health care organizations. They safeguard our religious freedoms and shape policy on Israel. They even raise the profile of our local community by participating in Jewish communal events, milestones and religious observances.
If candidates who do not share our values earn seats in public office because we did not take advantage of our constitutional right to vote, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
That is why the CRC, in partnership with several Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, hosted three nonpartisan forums to introduce the community to local candidates.
A total of more than 500 people attended separate “Coffee & Conversations” with congressional hopefuls Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone at the South Hills JCC, as well as a District 8 City Council Town Hall at the Squirrel Hill JCC. We seek to serve as both a convener and a voice of reason during these politically polarized times.
High attendance at these programs demonstrates how important the Jewish voice is in our region and helps us get the ear of government officials when we need them most. More importantly, we must have a strong turnout on Election Day. If you live in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, be sure to vote on March 13.
To find your polling station, visit www.pavoterservices.pa.gov. PJC
Bob Silverman is a member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Community Relations Council.