SUNBURY — The mitigation efforts made by Gov. Tom Wolf during the COVID-19 pandemic have been tough, but appropriate, Pennsylvania Senate candidate Michelle Siegel said Wednesday afternoon in a meeting with The Daily Item Editorial Board.
Siegel, who defended the governor’s mitigation efforts, contends that we aren’t far enough along in reopening businesses and other entities “because of the partisanship in Harrisburg. When does it become the responsibility of the executive branch to protect the people if the Legislature is not doing that.”
She is against the idea of impeaching the governor. “He is being condemned for doing the same thing as other governors, even in Republican-held states, like Texas, have done. Sometimes we just have to make tough choices as leaders.”
Siegel, a Democrat from Selinsgrove, is seeking the Senate’s 27th District seat currently held by John Gordner, of Berwick. The session was the latest in a series of Editorial Board meetings that feature Valley candidates in contested elections.
There have been amendments to current legislation that were voted down, she said, “that would have gotten small businesses more help. We would have been further along. It’s tough. If you value human life, that is what the governor was trying to do here because the legislature wasn’t doing it. At what point is it your legal, constitutional right to step in and try to save lives?”
Regarding small business mandates, Siegel said “the waiver program was probably not handled the way it should have been,” but ultimately it’s about doing the best for people, such as front-line workers who need personal-protective equipment.
Crowd size is another issue in the Valley. The arguments over how many people can attend sporting events, specifically high school football, is a “distraction,” Siegel said. “Most families of students who play sports understand there is a pandemic and they also want their kids taken care of. People are upset about not being able to see their kids play. I get it. There are frustrations, but we do have alternatives these days. Schools are streaming their games.”
Investment in rural Pennsylvania is the connecting element to Siegel’s Rural Bill of Right’s initiative, which hopes to revitalize communities, and includes ideas to improve public transportation, access to health care and to broadband.
All of these elements of the Rural Bill of Rights come together she said, citing the idea that public transportation could help people get to hospitals that might be quite a distance away. Public transportation would help veterans get help faster by providing rides to health centers.
“These aren’t red and blue issues,” Siegel said. “Rural is both. We have to stop dividing each other and realize both sides of the aisle need to work together.”