With candidate-hopefuls seeking nomination for Pennsylvania state governor, Laura Ellsworth visited Penn on Wednesday to discuss her vision for Pennsylvania with students.
The talk, organized by College Republicans, addressed issues specific to Pennsylvania as well as the larger political climate, including recent state redistricting and gun control.
As a lawyer for an international firm as well as a member of different service organizations in Western Pennsylvania, Ellsworth said her plans involve applying private sector knowledge to the public sector, and overall a “people over politics” approach.
In reference to recent controversy regarding gerrymandering and the Pennsylvania Congressional Map, Ellsworth said she would also create a bi-partisan committee of citizens to draw the map.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that Pennsylvania's GOP-drawn congressional map violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and ordered all 18 United States House districts to be redrawn. This past Monday, the Supreme Court released a new map that many predict would help Democrats gain more seats in Congress in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.
Students raised questions about topics of a more national interest, including gun control. Instead of stricter gun laws, Ellsworth said that more attention needs to be given to preventative measures like identifying mental illness. “Taking our guns away is not an option,” she added.
Economically, Ellsworth said that as governor she would create a business plan and budget for Pennsylvania, and make major changes to the legislature that focus on change, including reducing its size, making it part-time, creating term limits and withholding the pay from legislatures that don’t work the budget out on time. “We have a system that incentivizes people to do nothing,” she said.
Ellsworth’s emphasis on budget is based on her criticism of current Governor and Democrat Tom Wolf, who will be running for re-election. According to Ellsworth, Wolf’s decisions have led to a destroyed credit rating and increased borrowing.
When students asked about education reform, Ellsworth said that she is a proponent of a “diversity of options,” and that she would like to see people putting tax money towards “schools they believe in,” and also addressed concerns over wealth disparity and funding. “We need to fundamentally change the funding program for education,” Ellsworth said.
While the talk is not part of an official series, UPenn College Republicans president and College junior Ryan Snyder said that he would like to bring in some other candidates. “I was impressed by her private sector background and free market solutions,” he said of Ellsworth, adding that he specifically liked how the discussion addressed how these solutions can be applied to educational reform.
Wharton junior Owen O’Hare said that the talk had a “great focus on economic development” and was impressed by Ellsworth’s focus on “realistic policy proposals” instead of “symbolic gestures.”
Ellsworth emphasized the importance of involving college students in political campaigns and encouraging them to vote. “We need to demand in our government the best and brightest, and you are the best and brightest,” she said.
Other members of the GOP currently looking to secure a nomination include businessman Paul Mango and State Senator Scott Wagner. There will be a primary election debate March 6 at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.