Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Is Pennsylvania Ready for a Woman Governor – Yes, if Laura Ellsworth has anything to say about it!

t’s a ‘man’s world’ … or is it?

Although Pennsylvania has never had a woman governor, that may change if Republican Laura Ellsworth, a commercial litigation attorney from Pittsburgh, has anything to say about it.

On May 15, voters will choose among three Republican candidates for governor. Governor Tom Wolf is unopposed in the Democratic primary. In addition to Ellsworth, Paul Mango, a former health care systems consultant from suburban Pittsburgh and Scott Wagner, a state senator from suburban York who owns the $65 billion waste hauler Penn Waste Inc., are also running in the Republican primary race. Candidates Mango and Wagner are spending a lot of money fighting over who is more conservative, whereas Ellsworth is seeking broader, less ideological support from voters.

Today I took my daily walk from the Chester Valley Trail to Wilson Farm Park so as to meet the sole female governor candidate Republican Laura Ellsworth, who stopped by the park for an hour long meet and greet with the locals.

One of the residents in attendance asked Ellsworth if she voted for Donald Trump in the last election – without skipping a beat, she responded with a firm NO. In reviewing a Philadelphia Inquirer article, I read that Ellsworth “backed John Kasich for president (says she wrote in his name in last year’s election), gave money to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Sen. Bob Casey — and doesn’t like political labels”. It was clear today that she wasn’t touting party politics but instead representing herself as a candidate for “all” the people.

Endorsed by the Philadelphia Inquirer this morning, I also learned that Ellsworth supports universal background checks for gun ownership and the banning of bump stocks, which are devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly in addition to raising the age of gun purchase to 21 and imposing a three-day waiting period.

Now in his fourth year as governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf wants another four years. The only female candidate in the governor’s race, Laura Ellsworth hopes to be the Republican Party’s nomination to challenge the Democratic governor. But first things first – Ellsworth needs to win the May 15th primary and her Republican rivals, Wagner and Mango, are not going to make the task easy.

I have to say – having a conversation with Laura Ellsworth today was like talking to a next-door neighbor over the back yard fence. Although she has never run for public office, Ellswoth’s friendly and confident responses to the residents make her a natural in her new role as candidate for governor.

Laura Ellsworth exudes a very genuine quality with a welcoming voice in the midst of partisan politics.

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  1. I went to her website looking for an in depth statement on education. There was nothing that I could find. Education spending consumes 37% of the state budget. I wonder where she stands on the myriad education issues and specifically on the lawsuit before the PA supreme court.

    1. One of the topics in the Republican governor candidate debate was education and whether PA schools are adequately funded

      According the debate responses on public education,
      All three support expanding taxpayer-funded options for public school alternatives, including legislation to create taxpayer-funded “education savings accounts” that divert state aid for public schools into accounts that parents can use for tuition at private or parochial schools.

      Mango and Wagner said they are not inclined to devote more money to public schools. Mango said he would invest more in education if there’s proof it would improve student achievement or it would drive more students into skilled labor professions.

      Ellsworth said that Pennsylvania’s school funding system is not fair or adequate, and that making public schools compete for money with public school alternatives is holding back achievement.

      1. Also from the debate —

        Wagner and Mango said they support legislation to eventually eliminate school property taxes by raising other state taxes, such as on sales and income. Ellsworth said property taxes need to come down and that they should be frozen for seniors, but not eliminated.

        “If we remove all property taxes, we will not adequately fund education, and we will remove local control of education and it needs to stay local,” Ellsworth said.

        1. Thanks for the update on her education stance. Ellsworth has a reasonable plan – keep some property tax to retain local control; freeze (not eliminate) taxes for seniors; and raise taxes (income and/or sales) to increase funding for poor districts (although she doesn’t say this directly).

          A good stance and far better than SB76 that eliminates property taxes, but creates a whole host of other problems. Now if she only supported a woman’s right to choose she would be perfect, but sometimes you can’t get everything.

  2. She’s the “real deal”. I’ve thought so for several months when I first read about her candidacy. A breath of fresh air,and a non-political candidate.

    Ellsworth and her neighbor Chris (traveling with her across PA in a small truck) will answer your questions if you go to the web site or email CHRIS.
    Laura is looking for input and recognizes the residents know best.

  4. It’s also important to know if Ellsworth supports Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to choose!

  5. Thank you Carolyn.

    I totally agree on a prrson’s Right to choose what happens to their bodies.

    Please specify what you mean by supporting Planned Parenthood. Just planned parenthood?

    Can the women ALSO choose where she goes to have procedures? I think women should have choice on where, when, what and who she wants to
    use for medical care.

  6. PA has the largest gap in funding between wealthy and poor school districts. A lawsuit filed in 2014 says that The PA system discriminates against poor Districts and does not provide essential educational services to these children. The state argues that a funding formula was created to address the issue but plaintiffs counter that only a very small percentage of funding goes through the formula.

    Candidate opinion on how schools are to be funded could be meaningless depending on the outcome of this suit.

  7. For those interested in Laura Ellsworth stand on gun control — the following is excerpt from today’s Philadelphia Inquirer:

    Ellsworth, who would be Pennsylvania’s first female governor, said during one debate that she would refuse donations from the NRA. (Mango and Wagner both said they would accept money from the gun-rights group.) However, Ellsworth has also described herself as “a rule-of-law person” who supports the state and federal right to bear arms.

    She says schools can be made safer immediately by adding security measures common in many office buildings. Arming teachers, she said, should not be required, but teachers who are trained should be allowed to carry weapons if they choose. She also supports state funding for “evidence-based community initiatives” to reduce handgun violence.

    “We need to focus on educational and job opportunities that would put a diploma or paycheck in someone’s hand instead of a gun,” she told the newspapers.

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