From Pittsburgh Current Staff Reports
Citing a frustration with her elected representation, Jessica Benham, a community organizer and cofounder of the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy has announced her candidacy to take on 25-year incumbent Harry Readshaw next spring.
“I’m running for State Legislature because I continue to hear, every day, in neighborhoods throughout the district, that our community is ready for a State Representative who is firmly committed to Democratic and progressive values. If elected, I will be that representative,” Benham said. “As we campaign throughout the district, I’m excited to hear from community members and better understand their concerns and ideas for how to build a brighter future. It’s time that we focused on real solutions to the disparities between our neighborhoods and many others in the greater Pittsburgh Area.
“I will build on my background as a community organizer and a disability rights activist to fight for access to quality healthcare for all, to protect reproductive freedom, and for strategic and significant investments in our infrastructure.”
In addition to her work in autistic advocacy, Benham is autistic and, according to a press release, “would be one of the first state elected officials with a developmental disability in the country. She would also be the first openly LGBTQ woman elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly.”
Benham, who identifies as a progressive, says Readshaw is too conservative for the area that he serves.
According to a release Benham said, “The district is in need of a new voice. Long time incumbent Harry Readshaw has consistently been out-of-touch with the voters of his district. Although he represents a strongly Democratic community, Readshaw has repeatedly sided with anti-choice, pro-gun, and anti-union interests in Harrisburg. During his 8th term in office, Harry Readshaw referred to himself as “a pretty conservative person…for a Democrat”
“Our community deserves a representative that will listen to their needs, and respond accordingly. If elected I will always serve as a representative of the people, their needs, and their desires – not the special interests,” said Benham