Q&A With John Taylor, Incumbent Candidate for for Pa. State Rep of the 177th District
State Representative John Taylor (R) has served the 177th District for 32 years and in a city like Philadelphia, a seat held by a Republican says something about being able to do bipartisan work. Rep. Taylor has worked on both sides of the aisle on educational issues and has supported legislation to directly lower the wage tax in Philadelphia. He’s also the Chairman of the Transportation Board and believes not having him in this role would be a detriment to the district and the entire Philadelphia region.
This election cycle is an entirely different beast, though, and some believe that Rep. Taylor may have a tougher time retaining his seat this time around. Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s use of the phrase “drain the swamp” has had a ripple effect on all career politicians, regardless of party affiliation.
While there are pros and cons to having someone hold office for years and years, voters are looking more closely at how each candidate is going to make their lives better. For Rep. Taylor, the choice is about having someone with little political experience versus someone who understands the inner workings of Harrisburg.
Spirit News recently chatted with Rep Taylor about his upcoming race against Joe Hohenstein. Here’s what he had to say:
People on both sides of the aisle are talking about politicians who have been in office for a long time. What do you think is the advantage of having someone with a background in the office you are in?
“Starting at the Harrisburg level, it would be trading a brand new member for someone who’s stood up… in a position to get legislation quickly. I think the advantage legislatively is tremendous. The advantages are getting stuff across the finish line.”
“In the community, there’s so much variety of exchange between the staff and I. We know where to call, know who to deal with. You’re always learning. Every week there’s something new that we haven’t seen and I can’t imagine someone fresh coming in.”
“The folks that aren’t on top of it —not going to work, not hustling — they should be put out. We always look at it like we have 1600 contracts. At any point in time, if my constituents don’t feel like I’m doing a good job, they have the opportunity to choose somebody else.”
In your 32 years as a representative, what do you think was your proudest moment?
“There’s a lot of stuff we’ve done in a bipartisan manner. Back to this current session, we passed a constitutional right to lower the wage tax. They’re giving businesses more taxes on their property in return for everyone getting a lower wage tax.”
Mr. Hohenstein doesn’t think losing you as the Chairman of the Board of Transportation is a big loss. Do you think that would be a loss for your constituency?
“We’re working on safety issues. We have tremendous statistical success with red light cameras. There’s a multitude of issues. Whether it’s the governor or the mayor, there’s nobody questioning my commitment to get stuff done. I think chairmanship is one of them.”
Have the allegations of sexual assault against Mr. Trump made you think twice about your endorsement?
“Look, that behavior is something that can never occur when it comes to anybody’s power. Yeah, it does give me hesitation, (but) Donald Trump was not my choice. He’s not my first, second or third choice. At this point you have your choice between Hillary Clinton and [Donald Trump]. It’s an uncomfortable choice.”
What are your plans to spur some growth in Bridesburg and similar post-industrial neighborhoods in your district?
“I just came from a meeting with the redevelopment authority. We talked about the Land Bank and how that’s finally being implemented. We want to get that going so that we can take more property that’s just hanging out there, falling apart.”
“In Bridesburg, it’s a little slower, but it’s happening. We took some of the houses that are different than the rest of the houses on the block… that knock down property values. We try to get them into court. We try to have success with that… bring some change. There’s certain areas in my district that not only need rehabilitation. First thing’s investment.”
Philadelphia recently won some legislation against the NRA, allowing us to enact separate gun laws from the state. Do you support separating Philadelphia from the rest of the state in terms of gun laws?
“In general, I don’t like the fact that someone who lives on one side of Cheltenham Ave. would have a different set of problems.”
“I passed legislation out of the house with a mandatory minimum five-year sentence for anyone carrying a gun without a permit and a gun that was not theirs. If it’s not your gun, you don’t have a permit to carry it. I think that type of law makes a difference. That’s where you’re getting the guy who has the gun in the first place.”
You co-sponsored a bill that would take away Philly’s status as a sanctuary city. Why do you feel like this is an important issue?
“Under President Obama’s regulations, nobody can really get deported unless you’re a problem. They’re not going to be scooping people up off the street. I think that it’s federal regulation to notify the feds that they have someone convicted of different crimes, that they’re here illegally. We don’t do that and I think that’s wrong. We should really do everything to make sure that Philadelphia obeys [federal law]. I think most Philadelphians think it’s preposterous that you can commit a crime and you’re here illegally.”
“The reason municipalities stopped complying years ago was because the feds were late in coming to get these people. They were housing people in their jails throughout America.”
What is the key to growing your district’s economy and creating well paying jobs?
“I think it’s changing the tax structure throughout Philadelphia to attract more business to our city. We have these crazy percentages. These businesses are setting up shop in Conshohocken and King of Prussia which are hard to get to.” •