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VoicesWeb Interview with Joe Hoeffel, Democrat for Governor
Joe Hoeffel, Candidate for Pennsylvania Governor speaks to Voices
Submitted by voicesweb on March 9, 2010 - 3:37pm
by Jordan Toronto
In mid-February, Voices had an exclusive interview with Joe Hoeffel, a Democratic candidate running for Governor of Pennsylvania. Hoeffel has served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Pennsylvania’s 13th district, and is currently vice-chair for the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.
The paragraphs summarize the views expressed by Hoeffel in portions of the interview that are not directly quoted. They are not the options of Voices or of the writer.
Joe Hoeffel can see why voters are scared, in this unstable economy, but believes that makes it all the more important for the democrats in office to step up to the challenge.
“It’s understandable to me that democrats are demoralized,” said Hoeffel, “but I think that’s the wrong attitude for a democrat to have. We’re not going to win if we’re afraid of our own shadows.”
“I am the socially liberal, fiscally responsible candidate,” Hoeffel said. “I use those terms to advocate for the progressive center.”
According to Hoeffel, a government in the progressive center has values that are socially liberal and a balanced budget.
“Being fiscally responsible means paying the bills on time,” said Hoeffel, “and it can mean raising the revenue before putting the programs in place.”
Hoeffel believes that the most pressing issues to deal with in Pennsylvania right now are economic recovery, including a job creation program and community organization, improving public schools, and extending healthcare.
“The government needs to invest in people, in their education and in their healthcare,” Hoeffel said. “There is a deep responsibility for the government to provide for the most vulnerable.”
Hoeffel is concerned about helping communities of color and low-income communities that can not depend on property taxes to support their schools, struggling home buyers fighting discriminatory credit and loan practices, the poorest seniors and low-income disabled citizens of all ages who are greatly affected when funding is cut from public welfare programs, recent immigrants trying to integrate themselves into Pennsylvania life, and student and minority voters who need easier access and more convenience to ensure that they will make it to their polling places.
Hoeffel is also determined to help women, who are made vulnerable by restrictive laws concerning their reproductive freedoms.
“In 1981, I opposed what was the beginning of the Abortion Control law,” said Hoeffel, “a law that allows abortions to be performed, but is filled with restrictions, onerous restrictions that are particularly harmful to poor women.
“I am pro-choice, and I’m proud of it. I believe that most Pennsylvanians are pro-choice. They’re not advocates of abortion. I’m not an advocate of abortion. But I honestly believe that most people in Pennsylvania trust women to make that choice.”
Issues of women’s freedom have always been important to Hoeffel, not only because of his respect for his independently-minded wife, but also because he had good examples of tolerance in both of his parents. His mom and dad, who Hoeffel described as moderate republicans, died in 2004 and 2005 respectively, and he looks back appreciatively on their tolerant views of personal matters.
“Without being a strident advocate, my mother was pro-choice,” said Hoeffel. “She thought that decision should be something private, and that the government should be kept out of it.”
Hoeffel is a strong supporter of marriage equality and equal rights for the LBGT community. In his video statement of support on his Web site, he asserts that we are all children of God.
“So much of what is said by the conservative opponents of equality is steeped in religious references,” said Hoeffel, “and they’re sending the message that God and the bible are against equality.
“Now, I’m not a religious scholar,” Hoeffel said, “but my view of religion is that we are all equals. And look, if we’re going to be true to our religious values, we have to act with tolerance. And I extend that to mean civil rights and gay rights. I do believe we are all God’s children, and that it is our job to act in a consistent way, so that our laws on earth reflect that equality.”
Hoeffel knows of some people’s disenchantment with President Obama, but doesn’t believe the disenchantment is with Obama’s policies, but with his inability to act on those policies. He is confused that democrats, who have the majority in Washington, are still unable to pass healthcare legislation.
“We’ve lost our punch,” said Hoeffel. “I’m frustrated about it as well. The laws of the super-majority should not derail votes. We still have 59!”
Hoeffel also recognized the difficulty in passing anything while the republicans just play obstructionists. Republicans in Harrisburg have been doing that to Governor Rendell for years.
“It’s my hope that the voters will punish that obstructive politics,” said Hoeffel. “But it’s not easy to go against republicans who don’t seem to have an idea in their head. They just say no.”
Hoeffel is hoping that democrats will pass important legislations, such as “cap and trade,” the environmental proposal that would put caps on pollution, allowing those who stay under the cap to sell their remaining emission allowance to those companies going over the cap.
“If the government doesn’t restrict what companies pollute, they will pollute,” Hoeffel said. “This legislation would reward companies for controlling their emissions. The companies that continually go over the cap would get tired of paying, and everybody would benefit from a cleaner environment.
“The position I’m in now [Montgomery County commissioner] is exciting because I can get things done every day,” said Hoeffel, “and that appeals to me. However, as governor, I would have the chance to work with, inspire and prod the legislature, and get things done for the state.”