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Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

Who exactly is on your ballot, what do they do, and who do they stand for? We summarize everything you need to know below.

CANDIDATES FOR PRESIDENT:

DEMOCRAT: Joe Biden 

Biden was a Democratic United States Senator from Delaware for 36 years, until he left the position to serve as vice president during the Obama administration. Since leaving the White House in 2017, Biden became a Benjamin Franklin Presidential Practice Professor at Penn, taking a leave from the role in 2019 to run for president. 

REPUBLICAN: Donald Trump (incumbent) 

Trump, a 1968 Wharton graduate, was a businessman and real estate mogul before his presidency. He also garnered public attention for hosting reality television series "The Apprentice" from 2003 to 2015.

LIBERTARIAN: Jo Jorgensen

The first woman to lead the party’s presidential ticket, Jorgensen previously worked as a marketing representative and later started her own software sales business. Her platform centers around eliminating “big government” mandates and programs, and limiting taxes and government spending. A lifelong member of the party, Jorgensen has also served as the South Carolina vice chair as well as the national marketing director for the Libertarian Party.

GREEN PARTY: Howie Hawkins

Hawkins is running on a platform focused on criminal justice reform such as legalizing marijuana, ending mass incarceration, and decriminalizing of sex work. He also supports a number of socialist economic policies, and the implementation of the Green New Deal.

Here's a short summary of Biden's and Trump's stances on topical issues:

Credit: Ava Cruz


Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

COVID-19: 

Biden hopes to make testing widely available, establish mobile testing sites in each state, safely distribute a vaccine once a safe one has been approved, and provide assistance to workers most affected by the financial hardships brought on by the pandemic. 

The Trump administration created the White House Coronavirus Task Force to prevent and mitigate the spread of the virus, which has infected more than 8 million people in the United States alone, with the president notably being one of them. Trump has routinely told the public not to fear the virus, alarming many public health experts. He also said he plans to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year, and have 300 million doses ready by January 2021.

Health Care

Biden says that he will expand the Affordable Care Act, particularly with increased coverage to low-income Americans and tax credits for middle class families. He says he will use antitrust authority to address the rising prices for consumers. 

Trump has stated that he will repeal ACA entirely and replace it with a new plan which he has not detailed. Trump recently signed an executive order, titled the “American First” plan, that he said aims to protect people with pre-existing conditions. 

Climate Change: 

Biden’s plans to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, invest over $1 trillion into green energy and sustainable infrastructure, and work to combat polluters that disproportionately harm the working class and communities of color. 

Trump has withdrawn the nation from the Paris Climate Agreement. He has also eased air and water pollution penalties against large corporations. 

Student Loans

Biden plans to make public colleges and universities tuition-free for families with incomes below $125,000 annually. He has also proposed having the government forgive billions in student debt from poor and middle-income families, and revise the current loan repayment system. 

Trump has not mentioned any plans for widespread student loan forgiveness.  Earlier this year, he proposed a 2021 budget that included large cuts to federal loan programs.

Abortion: 

Biden seeks to defend legal access to safe abortions through the creation of nationwide protections for abortion, which would be in effect even if the Roe v. Wade decision is overturned. 

As the first president to speak at the national anti-abortion event “March for our Life,” Trump has said he would appoint federal judges who would “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade. He recently nominated Amy Coney Barrett, who has expressed pro-life views in the past, to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat. He recently expressed ambivalence toward Roe v. Wade at his Miami town hall, refusing to provide his personal stance on the issue and claiming he had never spoken to Barrett about whether she would overturn the decision.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Pennsylvania State Senate

The Pennsylvania Senate is the upper house of Pennsylvania’s legislative body, forming one half of the legislative branch of Pennslyvania's government with the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The two entities work with the governor to legislate and address budgetary measures for the state’s governing. 

The state is made up of 50 state-senatorial districts, each represented by one person who is elected every four years. Only half of the districts come up for re-election every four years, alternating odd and even districts every cycle. Currently, Republicans hold a 34-16 majority. None of the state senators up for re-election in districts that include Philadelphia this November face challengers.

PENNSYLVANIA STATE SENATE: DISTRICT 1

DEMOCRAT: NIKIL SAVAL 

District 1 candidate Nikil Saval, running unopposed, was the first Asian-American to be elected leader of the 2nd Ward in Philadelphia. Saval prides himself on his aim to “serve the many and not the few,” particularly in his platform surrounding universal healthcare, a Green New Deal for Pennsylvania, investing in public education, civil rights activism, and criminal justice system reform. In the past, Saval engaged in community organization efforts, was a leader in Bernie Sanders’ campaign, and co-founded Reclaim Philadelphia, an organization that provides support for progressive candidates and policies that advocates for the rights of the working class in the city. 

PENNSYLVANIA STATE SENATE: DISTRICT 3

DEMOCRAT: SHARIF STREET (incumbent)

District 3 candidate Sharif Street, running unopposed, has served as the Chief Legislative Advisor to the Democratic Chair of the Housing and Urban Development Committee for the Pennsylvania State Senate. A former lawyer and Penn Law graduate, Street prioritizes increasing public accessibility to healthcare, affordable housing, reforming the criminal justice system, and investing in the city's public school system. 

District 3 candidate Sharif Street. (Photo by James Robinson)

PENNSYLVANIA STATE SENATE: DISTRICT 5

DEMOCRAT: JOHN SABATINA JR. (incumbent)

District 5 candidate John Sabatina Jr. , running unopposed, is a lifelong Philadelphia resident He champions issues such as crime prevention and the senior citizens' rights. A former Assistant District Attorney, he now serves as the Democratic Chairman of the Transportation Committee, and is also an-at large member of Senate Aging & Youth, Agriculture & Rural Affairs, Community Economic & Recreational Development, and Judiciary committees. 

PENNSYLVANIA STATE SENATE: DISTRICT 7

DEMOCRAT: VINCENT HUGHES (incumbent)

District 7 candidate Vincent Hughes, running unopposed, centers his platform around progressive measures like increasing healthcare accessibility, criminal justice system reform, raising the minimum wage, and investing in the public education system. He was elected to the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee in 2010, and has also served as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from the 190th District.

Pennsylvania Attorney General 

State attorneys general are the top legal officers of their respective states, according to the National Association of Attorneys General. Typically, they act as public advocates in issues of legislative interest in areas such as child support enforcement, antitrust regulations, environmental causes, as well as handling of criminal appeals and  criminal prosecutions.

DEMOCRAT: JOSH SHAPIRO (incumbent)

Current Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, known for his prioritization of communities such as seniors, veterans, small businesses, is up for re-election this November. During his time in office, Shapiro has championed the fight against the opioid crisis, including advocating for treatment plans and centers for addicts. He is also a strong advocate for marriage rights of LGBT couples in Pennsylvania. 

REPUBLICAN: HEATHER HEIDELBAUGH

Pennsylvania Attorney General candidate Heather Heidelbaugh is a litigator who has practiced law for over 30 years and served on the Governor's Commission on Judicial Appointments and the Allegheny County Council. She advocates for “less spending, lower taxes, and common-sense public policy.” Heidelbaugh’s main issues include the elimination of government-based corruption and battling the opioid crisis. 

Pennsylvania Attorney General candidate Heather Heidelbaugh.

GREEN: RICHARD WEISS

Green Party PA attorney general candidate Richard Weiss has worked domestically as an attorney at the U.S. Agency for International Development in Washington, D.C., as well as internationally, in Indonesia, where he worked on financing for development projects. He champions criminal justice reform issues and supports eliminating cash bail, decriminalizing drug use and sex work, and instituting police review boards in coordination with communities to hold police officers accountable. 

LIBERTARIAN: DANIEL WASSMER

Doylestown attorney Daniel Wassmer is the Libertarian candidate for Pennsylvania’s attorney general. Aside from his service as an attorney, Wassimer has also served as commissioner on the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, and director of Bucks County Housing Corporation, along with a number of manual labor positions in his career. His platform centers around reform efforts in what he believes to be as an “overbearing legal system,” and he is in favor of decriminalization of drugs, advocate of the Second Amendment, and abortion rights. 

Pennsylvania Auditor General 

State auditor generals generally deal with determining whether state funding is being used in accordance with the law. The auditor general conducts both financial and performance audits of people and groups that receive state funds, with the aim of measuring the effectiveness of how the state is using its money to sponsor government-sanctioned programs and initiatives for the public good. 

DEMOCRAT: NINA AHMAD

Before entering the world of politics, Pennsylvania Auditor General candidate Nina Ahmad, earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Penn. Ahmad was also a successful molecular biologist and small business owner. If elected, she would be the first woman of color appointed to a statewide executive office in Pennsylvania. Ahmad, an immigrant from Bangladesh, advocates for the rights of marginalized communities such as women and people of color. She served on President Obama’s National Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, as well as being the former president of the Philadelphia chapter National Organization for Women.

REPUBLICAN: TIMOTHY DEFOOR

Pennsylvania Auditor General Candidate Timothy Defoor has more than twenty years of combined experience in law enforcement and auditing, having served as Dauphin County Controller and Investigator and Internal Auditor for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Defoor aims to limit government spending, increase transparency, and strengthen the state’s economy to provide increased job opportunities for its residents. 

GREEN: OLIVIA FAISON

Green Party Pennsylvania auditor general candidate Olivia Faison, native to the city, is chair of the Health Center #4 Advisory Committee, currently serving on the Board of Directors for the City of Philadelphia Health Centers. She is most known for her passionate approach to climate change, advocating for the Green New Deal and her promotion of clean energy alternatives. 

Pennsylvania auditor general candidate Olivia Faison.

LIBERTARIAN: JENNIFER MOORE

Jennifer Moore is a graduate of Grand Valley State University, the auditor of Upper Providence township, and vice chair of Pennsylvania's Libertarian Party. She does not have a candidate page or platform available online.

Pennsylvania State Treasurer

According to the Pennsylvania Treasury site, this position serves “as the custodian of more than $100 billion in Commonwealth funds.” Treasurers typically manage state investments, monitor any surplus or deficit of state funding, and deposit this funding as appropriate. 

DEMOCRAT: JOSEPH TORSELLA (incumbent)

Pennsylvania State Treasurer candidate and Penn alumnus Joseph Torsella, advocates for the rights of lower-level income working families, and increasing governmental transparency. In the past, he has served as president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, chair of the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, as well as for the United Nations as an ambassador of budget and management reform. 

REPUBLICAN: STACY GARRITY

Pennsylvania State Treasurer candidate Stacy Garrity first received significant media attention during her time in the U.S. Army as one of the officers in charge of an internment camp for enemy combatants in Iraq known to treat prisoners humanely, amid word of prisoner abuse at other camps. Now, Garrity advocates most strongly for increasing governmental transparency, lowering taxes, and education reform. 

GREEN: TIMOTHY RUNKLE

Green Party Pennsylvania state treasurer candidate Timothy Runkle also serves as treasurer for the Green Party of Pennsylvania and one of the chairs of the Lancaster County Green Party. Runkle is passionate about working to increase accessibility for non-politicians to serve in elected office positions. Runkle helped to develop GreenWave, a program centered on outreach and information for third party candidates. He is a strong advocate for environmental reform and civil rights, particularly for indigenous groups and people of color. 

LIBERTARIAN: JOE SOLOSKI

Jo Soloski, who has also served as comptroller and financial analyst, prioritizes the principles of limited government intervention. His platform centers around reducing state spending, enforcing term limits for legislators, and eliminating select taxes such as the state inheritance tax. 

Pennsylvania state treasurer candidate Joe Soloski.

CONGRESS

Philadelphia has three Congressional Districts – 2, 3, and 5, spanning different neighborhoods of the city. The second district is home to most of North Eastern Philadelphia along the Delaware River and North Philadelphia. The 2nd District covers most of the area east of Broad Street and north of Center City. The 3rd district covers most of West Philadelphia and Center City, and the 5th covers select parts of Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties.

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: DISTRICT 5

DEMOCRAT: MARY GAY SCANLON (incumbent)

District 5 candidate Mary Gay Scanlon, and Penn Law graduate, has experience as an attorney at the Education Law Center, President of her local school board. Her platform centers around issues such as voting rights, education reform, gun safety, and the rights of veterans and senior citizens. 

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur District 5 candidate and incumbent Mary Gay Scanlon.

REPUBLICAN: DASHA PRUETT

District 5 candidate Dasha Pruett emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1980. She is most passionate about retaining the capitalist system in America, lowering taxes, limiting government funding, supporting the second amendment, and providing support for the law enforcement system. 

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: DISTRICT 2

DEMOCRAT: BRENDAN BOYLE (incumbent)

A Philadelphia native, Boyle has represented a number of districts in Philadelphia for over four years. His platform centers around educational reform, including increasing resources for first-generation college students, health care reform, and budgetary/fiscal responsibility initiatives. 

REPUBLICAN: DAVID TORRES

District 2 candidate David Torres, also a native of the city and retired healthcare worker, champions reform in the state's handling of the opioid crisis. Torres has overseen recovery programs for recovering drug addicts and alcoholics, as well as in homeless shelters throughout the city. If elected, Torres also hopes to provide increased support for providing increased support for local businesses. 

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: DISTRICT 3

DEMOCRAT: DWIGHT EVANS (incumbent)

District 3 candidate Dwight Evans, native of Philadelphia, was the first Black chairman to be elected to the House Appropriations Committee, and has served as a state representative for over thirty years. Now, Evans serves as vice chair of the Small Business Committee, as well as the executive committee of the Congressional Black Caucus. Evans is particularly passionate about investing in our public school system, supporting small businesses, gun violence reform, and advocating for civil rights. 

REPUBLICAN: MICHAEL HARVEY

District 3 candidate Michael Harvey, a paralegal who has also served for more than two decades in the U.S. Navy Reserves and U.S. Air Force Reserves, centers his platform around economic improvement, with lower taxes, as well as a citywide push to obtain greater revenue sources from industries such as assembling, manufacturing, warehousing, and public transportation lines. 

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