Candidates hoping to succeed Congressman Doyle disagree on crime, energy and environment

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Five Democrats are in the race to replace Congressman Mike Doyle, who is retiring after 28 years in Congress.

As political editor Jon Delano reports, it’s a rare opportunity for this region to get new representation in Washington.

The new 12th Congressional District includes the city of Pittsburgh, part of the South Hills, the Mon Valley and eastern suburbs into Westmoreland County.

The candidates include attorney activist Steve Irwin of Squirrel Hill, Pennsylvania Rep. Summer Lee of Swissvale and Pitt law professor Jerry Dickinson of Swissvale. Also running are law firm administrator Jeff Woodard of Oakland and businessman William Parker of Northside.

KDKA’s Jon Delano asked each about how they would combat crime, especially among the young.

“Congress has to have the guts and courage to pass background checks,” says Irwin. “The answer has to be a holistic one. It’s got to be one that makes sure we have school programs and afterschool programs, summer programs for kids.”

“We need our police. We need to support our police. We need to train our police,” says Irwin.

“Community violence – that’s a poverty issue,” says Lee. “If we’re going to be serious as a party about tackling that, as a country, then we really have to talk about the root causes of that sort of crime, and it is poverty.”

“If we want to solve crime and we want to be serious about it, then we have to create opportunity,” she says.

“We need universal background checks,” says Dickinson. “We need red flag laws at the federal level that temporarily takes away a firearm from someone who poses an imminent threat.”

“When you have plenty of jobs for young people but also for anyone it helps to keep them out of trouble,” he adds.

“I would bring in federal funding to the local governments that they may be able to hire more police officers and put them out on the streets,” says Woodard.

“We need to see more individuals, especially people of color, owning businesses here,” says Parker.

Another big issue – maintaining jobs in natural gas development while improving the environment.

“We can have both. I’m not saying compromise our environmental laws. We need to enforce them and we need to give these industries the tools they need to retool so they can comply. But we want to have those businesses reinvest here in western Pennsylvania, “says Irwin.

“We’ve got to save jobs, and we’ve got to save the environment. I believe we can do both,” he adds.

“I believe that fracking is dangerous,” says Lee. I believe that we must come up with, really we must transition to renewable resources. ”

“In my home region of the Mon Valley, we have almost the worst air pollution in the entire nation,” she says.

“I am a pragmatic progressive and a consensus builder, so I like to think of this as balancing the two, says Dickinson. And that’s the only way we can move forward with these types of issues.”

“The jobs here, and the oil and gas that we have can supply all the other states around us,” says Woodard. “Yes, I believe that we can have a balancing act and do both.”

“I think we can do away with some of these fossil fuels and just balance it out equally,” Parker notes.

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