For Immediate Release
Philadelphia, PA - All three candidates for Pennsylvania State Representative endorsed by Food & Water Action won their races by significant margins in yesterday’s primary elections. The results change the legislative landscape in Harrisburg immensely, guaranteeing that the legislature will see at least two new representatives who hold anti-fracking positions of a strength never displayed by a state elected official.
Summer Lee and Elizabeth Fiedler, who have no announced competitors in the November general election, will instantly become the strongest environmental champions in Harrisburg when they arrive for the start of the next legislative session. Both Fiedler and Lee support banning fracking in Pennsylvania, and oppose taxing fracking, which they understand would make Pennsylvania reliant on allowing more drilling to generate state funds. Both candidates have also pledged to support legislation to move Pennsylvania to 100% renewable energy by 2035.
“Across Pennsylvania, communities are standing up to the fossil fuel industry by electing anti-fracking candidates,” said Sam Bernhardt, Pennsylvania Director for Food & Water Action. “We’re thrilled to have Summer Lee and Elizabeth Fiedler representing the climate movement in the hallways of Harrisburg, and we look forward to working this summer and fall to get Danielle Friel Otten and other champions for our movement elected in their races against Republicans. These three strong women won because they stood up as champions for their community’s health and safety.”
The results build on strong electoral victories in 2017, when Larry Krasner was elected Philadelphia District Attorney on a platform of holding corporate polluters accountable, and the movement against the Mariner East 2 pipeline voted for anti-pipeline candidates in local races in communities along the pipeline route. And these victories are a prelude to the November general election, where a slew of climate champions are positioned to win races for State Representative and State Senate.
Summer Lee hails from Braddock, just outside of Pittsburgh. She will represent the 34th State House District, which has a legacy of pollution. Now, her community faces a new threat: a proposal to allow fracking right in the midst of thousands of homes. Lee will fight to keep a fracking well out of her community. And when she gets to Harrisburg, she will fight for a statewide fracking ban. Lee defeated incumbent Rep. Paul Costa by garnering 68% of votes cast.
Elizabeth Fiedler will represent South Philadelphia’s 184th House District, which lies just downwind from the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery, the largest polluter in Pennsylvania. She will push to transition the state away from dirty fossil fuel infrastructure and towards 100% renewable energy, which she says “means creating hundreds of thousands of jobs across Pennsylvania in solar, wind, efficiency, retrofits, electric grid, and other energy fields.” Fiedler won her four-way primary with a commanding 51% percent of the vote.
Danielle Friel Otten is a fierce leader of Chester County’s anti-pipeline movement. When Danielle learned that the dangerous Mariner East 2 pipeline would run just 40 feet from the yard where her two young children play, she stood up to fight for her family and community. Danielle’s community organizing led her to realize she is the right leader to represent her neighbors in State House District 155 in Harrisburg. As a lead volunteer in Food & Water Action’s work to elect anti-pipeline candidates in Uwchlan Township in 2017, Friel Otten learned how to conduct community outreach. She used these campaigning skills to cruise to victory with 82% of the vote in her contested primary, and will now face incumbent Republican Becky Corbin.
Food & Water Action plans to invest significant resources in propelling Friel Otten and other candidates yet to be endorsed to victory in November.