Helen Tai won the May 15, 2018 Special Election to become the first woman and first person of color to represent the 178th Legislative District. This historic win was a result of strong support from Democrats, Republicans and Independents who voted for commonsense solutions such as balancing the budget, funding public education and commonsense gun safety laws.
Unfortunately, Helen lost the general election on November 6. The unofficial results:
Helen Tai – 16,972 (49.1%) Wendi Thomas – 17,618 (50.9%)
Personal Note from Helen (written on November 7)
I decided to run because I felt that Harrisburg wasn’t working for everyday people. So many abhorrent things were happening across the country, from gun violence to hate crimes to destruction of the environment, and since then, it has only gotten worse. I was tired of protesting and complaining. I wanted to be part of the solution.
When I declared my candidacy in January, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It was much harder and much more complicated than I could’ve imagined. An enormous number of people and organizations stepped forward to help out. And in May, we pulled off a minor miracle – even though the seat had been held by a Republican for 34 years and Democrats make up only 37% of the electorate, somehow we squeaked by with a margin of 96 votes.
For the last five months, I’ve tried to be the best state representative I could. At the same time, we had to run a re-election campaign. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we weren’t able to pull off another miracle last night. I know we are all disappointed that our hard work did not result in a victory. I am sad that I won’t be able to continue to work with my colleagues in Harrisburg, who I was just starting to get to know. I am sorry that I won’t be in a position to introduce and vote on legislation that is very important to my constituents, including commonsense gun safety laws, protecting the environment, ensuring workers’ rights, and providing good quality public education and health care to all. But I am heartened that last night Pennsylvania elected many good new representatives and senators, especially my dear friend Steve Santarsiero, and I know that they will work with integrity to continue the work that is so important to all of us.
I also want to celebrate what we did accomplish. Even though we lost this battle, YOU inspired me so much. You showed me how hard you were willing to work and the lengths you would go to do what was necessary. An awe-inspiring number of you gave so generously – of your money, of your time, of your sweat and tears, and of your heart. You spent countless evenings and weekends knocking on tens of thousands of doors, you turned over your house to hundreds of volunteers filing in and out all day, you donated, hosted fundraisers and begged others to give as well, you talked to thousands of voters on the phones and via text, you put up campaign signs all over the district (and replaced them over and over again when they were stolen), you drove canvassers, you made cinnamon rolls and brought food to the campaign office, you kept the office running and supplied with toilet paper, you checked up on me constantly to ensure that I was getting enough sleep and not too disheartened by the lies put forth by my opponent, you wrote letters to the editor, you staffed fundraisers and other events, you begged volunteers to help out, you trained volunteers, you stuffed envelopes, you organized volunteers, and you gave so much of yourselves.
This morning I woke up to hundreds of messages and phone calls from you telling me how disappointed you were in the loss, how much you believed in me, how you want me to keep going and run again (but everyone also wants me to take time off so that I can rest😊). Thank you so much for these words of encouragement, and I want to offer them back to you as well. I hope that this loss does not discourage you from continuing to participate because you made a huge difference. When you consider that this district was gerrymandered to favor Republicans, that only 37% of the registered voters are Democrat, and that we got 49% of the vote, you must realize that this is an amazing accomplishment.
Many of us live in fortunate circumstances, and much of what’s happening in this country doesn’t materially affect our lives. But so many are being harmed, who may not have the wherewithal to protect themselves, and so it is incumbent upon us to continue to be active and fight for them and fight for what’s right.
So let’s take a little time to celebrate and to rest. Then let’s regroup and figure out what we need to do next, because I am not willing to accept Trump’s definition of America and I know you aren’t either.
Helped deliver a balanced budget, on time, with increased investments in education, workforce development, roads and bridges, and fighting the opioid epidemic
Continuing in the same way for which she was so well known and appreciated as a Solebury Township Supervisor, increasing government transparency and keeping residents informed through newsletters and regular email communications
Introduced a package of bills to prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands. More here, here, here, here, and here.
Held a Policy Committee Hearing on Gun Safety.
Voted to pass HB2060, known as the Domestic Violence Bill, which will put more stringent requirements on the removal of guns from domestic abusers.
School Safety: Voted for the Safe2Say initiative and to allocate $60 million to school safety
Voted to increase basic education funding by $100 million, special education by $15
million and career and technical education funding by $60 million, all without increasing taxes
Helped secure $1 million in grant funding for construction of STEM facilities at Villa Joseph Marie High School in Northampton Township. Watch Head of School Tom Kardish.
Read to children at both Free Library of New Hope-Solebury and Free Library of Northampton Township
Opened District Office and held an open house to meet and serve our constituents including solving problems with PennDOT, obtaining SEPTA senior Key Cards, obtaining birth certificates, providing support for grant applications, and providing notary services
Held two Telephone Town Halls with over 500 participants and an In-Person Town Hallwith 80 participants (watch here) in order to learn about constituent concerns
Organized and hosted aSenior Fair in New Hope as well as Senior Snacks and Services at Northampton Senior Center, connecting seniors with essential services
Canvassed 6000 homes and sent out mailers to inform residents about our constituent services
Helped secure more than $2 million in state grants for a wide spectrum of uses including opioid education/treatment/prevention for New Hope Solebury Cares, the Free Library of Northampton Township, and Council Rock Coalition for Healthy Youth; police vehicles for both New Hope Boro and Upper Makefield Township; renovations to Solebury Township Police Department building and a police bicycle; Northampton Township Senior Center roof and HVAC replacement, Memory Care technology and Family Retention programs for Twining Village; repairs to sidewalk for Northampton Township, a generator for Lingohocken Fire Company; exercise programs for those with Parkinsons at Cornerstone; Adult and children's yoga at Free Library of New Hope and Solebury; and increased access for people with disabilities for Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve
Met with hundreds of constituents on a wide variety of topics including education, redistricting reform, voting integrity, gun safety, deer overpopulation, renewable energy, the opioid epidemic, PA Fairness Act and more
Performed ceremonial duties as the State Representative:
125th anniversary of PA State Parks
Reading of Declaration of Independence on Independence Day at Washington Crossing Park
Northampton Township Flag Day Ceremony
Hosted a Policy Committee Hearing on #MeToo Legislation to help bring attention to this important issue and to better understand how lawmakers can best help end workplace sexual harassment. More here, here and here.
Voted and advocated for the rights of child sex abuse victims (SB261)
Introduced HR 1000, demanding a reversal of the federal government’s child separation policy. More here, here and here
Introduced HR 1109 , which calls on the Joint State Government Commission to study the mental health provider shortage and issue a report within a year of its adoption.
Co-sponsored 80 bills on government reform, election reform, education, environment, gun safety, fair wages, #metoo, LGBTQ rights and more.