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%)
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.
Give 'em Helen
Learn more about Helen here.
Click here for a high resolution photo
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.
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.
Member of House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee
With PennEnvironment, participated in “Renewable Energy on Tap” to promote HB2132, a bill that provides for Pennsylvania’s transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050
Honoring our Residents
Presented Citations from PA House of Representatives to Northampton Township residents Andrew Witten at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor and Kate Loftus for her Girl Scout Gold Award
Attended flag placement ceremony for Northampton Township resident Air Force Senior Airman Austin Fizel who recently deployed to the Middle East
Attended flag and flagpole dedication ceremony for Northampton Township resident retired U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Matt Bellina
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.
Introduced HR 1000, demanding a reversal of the federal government’s child separation policy. More here, here and here
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