Shawn Lunny Takes on Schmotzer, Molchany in 22nd District Race
The young Democrat responds to Patch's questions.
22nd House District Democratic Primary
UPDATE: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided on April 13 that Shawn Lunny's name is to be removed from the ballot of April 24's Democratic primary election for Pennsylvania's 22nd House District seat. Story here.
Democrats Erin Molchany, Shawn Lunny and Martin Michael Schmotzer will compete during an April 24 primary for the right to represent their party in November's general election for Pennsylvania's 22nd House District seat.
The entirety of the 22nd District includes at least parts of Whitehall Borough, Baldwin Township and Castle Shannon Borough and the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Overbrook, Brookline, Mount Washington, Beechview, Duquesne Heights, Manchester, Sheraden and Esplen.
Click here to see if you reside in the 22nd District.
The Baldwin-Whitehall Patch published a biography of and interview with Schmotzer on April 2, the same for Molchany on April 4 and today, is releasing the following biography and interview with Lunny.
Lunny responded to the B-W Patch via email.
Lunny, 26, has been a Democrat since 2008. "I wanted to make sure I voted for President (Barack) Obama," he said.
He is a relatively recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, where he majored in both economics and computer science. He also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Point Park University.
Lunny is a computer engineer, having been in that line of work for about six years. "As a computer engineer, we define a given problem, plan a solution and implement that plan," he said. "This will be the same standard I will use as a state representative."
Previous work of his came as a deputy executive director for the Pennsylvania College Access Program, a nonprofit educational organization that assists individuals with financial aid and applying to colleges. He is still the chairman of the advisory board for that organization.
Lunny is a newcomer to politics. He has never held an elected or appointed government position.
Baldwin-Whitehall Patch: Why are you qualified to represent the 22nd House District of Pennsylvania?
Shawn Lunny: I am running for office because I want to give back to the community and fight for the issues that the residents and I care about: jobs, property assessment, transit funding and education. I have a great education from two great universities: the University of Pittsburgh and Point Park University. In addition (to other functions of the Pennsylvania College Access Program), we help students with cleaning up their backgrounds to become employable.
BWP: What are the biggest issues facing the 22nd District, and how would you prioritize addressing them?
SL: I have been out in the community and asking our residents what concerns them most. The top concerns are the property assessments, transportation, job creation and education. The property assessments have had a negative effect on households because it is taking away the incomes of the working class, which are already strained. It has also hurt homes with fixed incomes, such as the elderly, some of which have lived in their homes since childhood (and) are now being forced to consider alternate living situations. I support a statewide moratorium on property assessments. We need to replace the base year method as well as revisit how we are assessing each home. Right now, it's a one-size-fits-all technique that is highly inaccurate. Transportation is another concern. Residents want to know how they will get to and from Downtown for school, work, doctors' appointments, or stay connected to friends and families in other communities if routes are cut. We need long-term funding for transportation, and one source to look at should be Marcellus Shale fees and taxes.
BWP: How do you feel about Marcellus Shale drilling in the 22nd District?
SL: Talking about Marcellus Shale, we have a great opportunity for exceptional job growth here in southwestern Pennsylvania. We need to start working with the drilling companies to train and employ local residents now. I believe that each community and local government knows what's best for their community, and therefore, believe in local zoning control. The funds from drilling should go towards education costs, a transportation fund and infrastructure improvements.
BWP: How do you feel about Tom Corbett's performance so far as Pennsylvania's governor?
SL: I am not a fan of Gov. Tom Corbett and his budget cuts! We cannot allow Gov. Corbett to cut public education funding in his budget, and at the same time, remove additional funds from the public schools by implementing vouchers. I would oppose his proposed budget. Children—and not profit—should be the main goal in education.
BWP: Should the 22nd District move to eastern Pennsylvania?
SL: I do not believe that the district should be moved. Republicans who serve on the redistricting committee want to move the district to a Republican-populated area across the state to give them an advantage in numbers. This does nothing for the need of the representation of the people in my district!
BWP: How do you feel about the Brookline Boulevard redevelopment project? How could you help small business owners and local shoppers over the course of that project?
SL: I am all for the Brookline redevelopment project and would work to get any state grants to improve the district. Obviously, the heart of Brookline is the small businesses, and I think it is to be expected that there will be some discomfort in the short term. I would support the small businesses and local shoppers by working with the city to allow for some free parking during peak business hours as a way to keep shoppers coming and to alleviate the discomfort to the businesses.
BWP: What are your thoughts on school realignment in Pittsburgh?
SL: I believe that the local school boards know what's best for our schools. They will do what is needed to ensure that the students attend a school in their local neighborhood.
BWP: If elected, where would you open your constituents office(s)?
SL: I am a resident of Brookline, my campaign headquarters is located at 924 Brookline Blvd., and I will continue to keep the office of state representative in Brookline.
BWP: In 1997, Schmotzer was accused of taking $50,000 from taxpayers (and paying the money back—with interest) while serving as a deputy clerk of courts for Allegheny County, according to this 2007 article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Schmotzer pled guilty, but later, he withdrew his guilty plea. And after initially being convicted of theft, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania dismissed his charges on appeal and cleared his record. How do you feel that Schmotzer's past affects his candidacy?
SL: I believe that the people should decide.
BWP: Do you have any notable community service or volunteer experience that you feel merits mention for you as a candidate?
SL: I volunteered with the Pennsylvania College Access Program assisting students to get into college. I am also member of Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh, an organization that teaches young people to preserve our community by repairing old homes and buildings. I also donate to Meals On Wheels, which assists the elderly, and (am) a member of AFL-CIO union.
BWP: Have you received any major endorsements? If so, from whom?
SL: Yes: Humane PA.
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