You voted: These are the top 10 freshmen to watch in the Pa. House and Senate

By: - March 7, 2019 6:30 am

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We asked. You voted.

These are the top 10 freshmen to watch in the Pennsylvania House and Senate.

We’ll stress up front that this list is ordered alphabetically by last name and doesn’t reflect a preference, implicit or explicit, for any particular lawmaker. We’ll also stress that we received plenty of quality nominations and wish we had space for everyone you recommended to us. But then it would have been much longer than a top 10 list — throwing our carefully conceived journalistic trope into complete disarray.

Ready? Here we go.

  1. State Rep. Torren Ecker, R-Adams:

What You Said: Ecker is the “first person in his family to ever go to college, much less law school. He’s now jumping into workforce development. And he’s trying to be a leader in leading people from minimum wage jobs to family-sustaining careers in his district and statewide.” Added bonus: Ecker won his primary by a single vote.


2. State Sen. Tim Kearney, D-Delaware:

What You Said: Kearney, the Senate’s “renaissance man,” is an architect, small business owner, professor and mayor (of Swarthmore).



3. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia:

What You Said: Kenyatta has already made a splash, teaming with GOP Rep. Andrew Lewis, of Dauphin County, on a bill aimed at making it easier for people released from prisons and others to re-enter the workforce.



4. State Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny:

What You Said: Lee, one of three freshmen in the House backed by the Democratic Socialists of America, has made a name for herself by pursuing her goals with practicality and patience.



5. State Rep. Lori Mizgorski, R-Allegheny:

What You Said: Mizgorski “just got here, and the House has already passed her bill, HB318, improving the state’s ‘Do Not Call List‘ rules. It allows you to register for life.”



6. State Sen. Katie Muth, D-Berks:

What You Said: Muth is an “outspoken advocate in the #MeToo movement and continues that work in the Senate.” She’s also expected to be a voice on healthcare policy – since that’s her professional background.



7. State Sen. Steve Santarsiero, D-Bucks:

What You Said: Everything old is new again with Santarsiero, a former House member and one-time Congressional candidate. That gives him “first-hand experience in state government,” and a leg-up over some of his fellow freshmen senators.



8. State Rep. Jim Struzzi, R-Indiana:

What You Said: Struzzi, a former journalist and PennDOT regional spokesperson, replaced Majority Leader Dave Reed.  He’s “impressed his colleagues” in Appropriations so far. He “asks good questions; has knowledge of the issues and is digging for ways to maximize efficiency for state dollars.”


9. State Rep. Wendi Thomas, R-Bucks:

What You Said: Thomas has “[impressed] her colleagues by jumping right into human trafficking issues.” She’s the primary co-sponsor of anti-trafficking legislation. She recently held a meeting in her district on the bill, “where she heard from [trafficking] victims in Bucks County.”


10. State Sen. Lindsey Williams, D-Allegheny

What You Said: Williams “fought tooth and nail to win a Western Pennsylvania seat previously held by a Republican.” And then the hard work started when she had to prove she actually lived in the district so she could be seated in the Senate. She boasts “a blue collar background and understands the importance of unions.” She’s expected to be a strong voice on pro-labor and pro-worker policies.

Anyone we’re leaving out? Post your thoughts in the comments — and make your arguments passionately (but politely).

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.