By Benjamin Cunningham
This article was originally published in Issue 11, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (March 24, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue.
Senior Benjamin Long recently announced his campaign for the Pennsylvania State Legislature. He is the first student at DeSales to run for state office while still enrolled, and if elected will be the first DeSales alumnus to serve in the Pennsylvania State Legislature. Long is running unopposed in the Republican primary on April 26; however, he faces a contest with incumbent Democratic Representative Michael Schlossberg in the general election Nov. 8. Schlossberg has served in Harrisburg since 2013, after running for the seat unopposed.
Long is running in Pennsylvania District 132, which covers a significant portion of northern Allentown. The same seat was once held by Charlie Dent, who now represents the 15th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. Long began preparations to run early last semester, and was officially listed on the primary ballot after ling a ballot petition in mid-February. When Long launched his campaign, he noted that he doesn’t want to be “just another politician”; rather, he wants to represent the people.
Long emphasized that his loyalty does not lie with special interests or even his political party, saying, “I have no desire to do what is right for my political party, but to do what is right for [the constituents of District 132].” Key issues for Long include tackling partisanship, campaign nance reform and education.
“I believe the key to success within state government is respect, cooperation and integrity,” said Long. “Without these we will continue to see political gridlock… partisanship is at an all-time high.”
On the subject of campaign nance reform, Long said, “I believe we need to completely end gerrymandering and return to a system where the people select their representatives. We need to close the gap between the people and their representatives so that the people have control.” Gerrymandering is the illegal practice of manipulating the geographical layout of political districts to favor one party or group.
Long also stressed his desire to “get money out of politics.”
“I desire what is true and just, and I believe living life with integrity in all that we do is one of the most important things,” he said.
Long – whose sister, mother and father are all involved in education – noted that he has a passion for providing improvements to education and said, “Harrisburg needs to empower local schools.”
He has also brought criticism against incumbent Schlossberg for his use of the “ghost vote,” voting for other representatives who are absent from the legislative session. Long said that former Mayor of Allentown William Heydt, a Republican who has been very critical of Rep. Schlossberg on the issue, “makes valid points” regarding his arguments against ghost voting.
Although this is his first political campaign of this scope, Long served on the South Whitehall Township Public Safety Commission and is a vice president of Lehigh Valley Water Systems. Long is just 22 years old, meaning if he is elected he will be the youngest serving member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and a full 10 years younger than his predecessor. More information about Long’s campaign can be found at longforpa.com.