PA's U.S. House District 14 Candidate: Janis Brooks
Brooks is one of three candidates for a seat that covers Baldwin Township and Baldwin Borough.
Three people will run in an April 24 primary election for two spots on November's general ballot for the U.S. House of Representatives' 14th District of Pennsylvania, which includes Baldwin Township and Baldwin Borough.
Republican Hans Lessmann, of Forest Hills, is the only candidate from his party running for that seat, meaning that either Doyle or Brooks will almost certainly face Lessmann in November.
Below are details from a Patch interview with Brooks. Interviews with Doyle and Lessmann will appear later. UPDATE: Here is the Doyle interview.
Brooks holds a doctorate in public administration from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's degree in urban studies and planning from The University of Maryland. She received her bachelor's degree from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, where she studied comprehensive social studies for secondary education.
Brooks is the founder and pastor of the Church of Inclusion International Ministries in North Versailles and the founder and CEO of Citizens to Abolish Domestic Apartheid, a nonprofit organization also located in North Versailles that provides learning experiences for youths and senior citizens as well as after-school programs.
Creating jobs and new employment opportunities is extremely important, Brooks said, but when jobs are available, people must be trained to do them.
Brooks said that she wants to re-examine the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, which was enacted in 1973 to provide work training and jobs in public service.
"It's wonderful to have the technology and industry-oriented positions we have available in this area," she said, "but with the (residents) we have in the 14th District, we need more industry-specific job training."
Creating jobs and opportunities can't be done without improvements to education, Brooks said.
Brooks has dedicated much work to programs that help underprivileged and at-risk students, but she said that students from all walks of life face educational challenges. And smaller communities often are hit hard.
"Our future, really, is our kids, and we should help them," she said. "Some people think these are just problems in the inner city, but youth are youth regardless of what the setting is.
"How do we stop this? By educating people."
Brooks said that she wants to work with the Department of Education to create or restructure grants so that smaller communities can get funding for after-school programs more easily.
She also wants to concentrate on increasing relationships between universities and local public schools, another way in which she considers Pittsburgh a leader already.
When elementary and secondary schools interact with universities, students can meet mentors who can encourage them on their educational path, Brooks said. Increased funding for universities also is important in this regard, she said.
"So many of our children are struggling in school, and they need to see people close to their age who can say, 'It was tough for me, too, but I made it.'
"They need to hear that. The universities can open up a whole new avenue for students."
Transportation and the Economy
Transportation also is key to job growth, Brooks said, but increasing gas prices and transportation cuts are making it difficult to recover from economic setbacks.
"Senior citizens and the middle class—because of economy, they're struggling," Brooks said. "Property taxes have tripled in some cases, but has your income tripled?"
Brooks said that she knows many people personally who are walking to work, who can't afford prescriptions and who struggle to pay for food.
She said that she wants to analyze government programs that are already in place and see where improvements can be made. If government-funded day care and after-school services could be increased, parents would be able to work without worrying about child care issues.
But jobs and transportation—basic needs of citizens—also must be addressed, and the government must work to find ways to subsidize what she calls the "working poor."
"I don't have a million dollars raised, but I'm helping the people who are struggling," Brooks said. "Everyone has to be represented well. If we can form a model by doing that in the Pittsburgh area, we can spread that across the country."
For more information about Janis Brooks, visit her campaign website.
This article originally appeared on the Dormont-Brookline Patch.
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