Statements from Wendy Rothstein and Jeff Saltz, DJOP’s Endorsed Candidates for Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas

On Friday, October 27, Democratic Jewish Outreach PA (DJOP) announced its endorsement of Wendy Rothstein and Jeff Saltz for Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas in the PA General Election being held Tuesday, November 7, 2017. We are taking special interest in this year’s judicial races because of the substantial role the courts have nationally and at the state level in maintaining checks and balances on the executive and legislative branches of government. And even though the Courts of Common Pleas typically receive less attention from voters, they are the courts that state residents are most likely to encounter. Therefore, we decided to make an endorsement in the Montgomery County judicial race.

Democrats outnumber Republicans by over 50,000 voters in Montgomery County. However, only 7 of the 23 judges currently serving on the Court of Common Pleas are Democrats. With two openings on the court this year, Democrats have a strong possibility of reaching nine seats, especially considering Wendy’s and Jeff’s qualifications.

Wendy, a lifelong resident of Montgomery County and one of the top litigators in the county, has practiced law for more than 34 years. She was honored as a “Trailblazer” for women in law by the Montgomery Bar Association and the Philadelphia Business Journal in 2013. Jeff, who was raised in Montgomery County and lives in hometown of Lower Merion, has spent more than 30 years in the courtroom. He has been named a “Super Lawyer” for seven straight years, and has been named to the “Pro Bono Roll of Honor” by the Philadelphia Courts multiple times.

Both Wendy and Jeff possess the experience, wisdom, integrity, temperament, and commitment to equal justice and fairness that are essential to serve as trial court judges. They are well-respected by their peers in the legal profession, selfless, hard-working, and scrupulously honest. In short, they exemplify the values and virtues that are the core of DJOP’s mission. We urge our supporters who reside in the county to vote for Wendy and Jeff, and to encourage their neighbors to do the same on Election Day.

And now, we offer you some words and thoughts from Wendy and Jeff.

Wendy RothsteinRothstein Headshot_Working Copy

I am honored to be endorsed by Democratic Jewish Outreach PA for Judge of Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. I am running for Judge because I know that I can make a difference. I have the background and experience—I have worked my entire legal career at Fox Rothschild and have 34 years’ experience as a trial attorney in Montgomery County Courts—to “hit the ground running” as a Judge.

Beyond my experience and the professional recognition I’ve received, I believe it is my view of the kind of judge I aspire to be that distinguishes me. To quote from the late poet Maya Angelou: “I’ve come to learn that people forget what you said and forget what you did. However, they never forget how you made them feel.”  When people leave my courtroom they will feel like they appeared in front of a Judge who was well prepared and unbiased, that they were listened to and respected, and that they had an even playing field to present their case. This is the standard I wish to be judged by.

In addition to the support from Democratic Jewish Outreach PA, I have been endorsed by a variety of other noteworthy organizations, including PA State Education Association, National Organization for Women, PA State Police Pioneer FOP Lodge 37, Montgomery County Building Trades, Teamsters Local 830, Democracy for America, and Montgomery County Democratic Women’s Leadership Initiative. I was also recommended by the Montgomery Bar Association. In addition, I have bipartisan support, in that, in the May Primary, both Democratic and Republican voters elected me to be on their ballot in November.

I ask for your support on Election Day and urge you to come out and vote. Every election matters, and judges matter, perhaps more than ever.

Saltz Headshot_Working Copy

Jeff Saltz

I am running for Judge of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas for two reasons. First, I think that I would be good at the job. I am an honors graduate of Harvard Law School and have been practicing law for more than 30 years. The Montgomery County Bar Association has rated me as Highly Recommended, its highest ranking, and I have been named a “Super Lawyer” for seven straight years. In addition to receiving Democratic Jewish Outreach PA’s endorsement, I have been endorsed by the Montgomery County Democratic Party, Montgomery County Building Trades Council, and Democracy for America.

I am running for Judge of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas for two reasons. First, I think that I would be good at the job. I am an honors graduate of Harvard Law School and have been practicing law for more than 30 years. The Montgomery County Bar Association has rated me as Highly Recommended, its highest ranking, and I have been named a “Super Lawyer” for seven straight years. In addition to receiving Democratic Jewish Outreach PA’s endorsement, I have been endorsed by the Montgomery County Democratic Party, Montgomery County Building Trades Council, and Democracy for America.

I have also been named to the First Judicial District Pro Bono Roll of Honor for providing free representation for homeowners to save their homes in the mortgage foreclosure crisis. I understand that legal principles are not just ancient writings in dusty old law books, but rather need to be applied with the knowledge that a judge’s rulings have real consequences for real people.

Second, I am running because of the challenge that faces us as the result of last year’s national election. If we have learned nothing else in the past ten months, it is the importance of judges who will be independent and courageous in standing up for individual rights and equal rights. Those rights are under attack from the highest levels of our government, and the courts are our last line of defense. After last year’s election, President Obama went on TV and said that we shouldn’t cry the blues, but instead should grab a clipboard and run for office—and I decided that he was talking to me.

I am grateful for the support of Democratic Jewish Outreach PA. The values DJOP espouses are especially close to my heart. Let’s send a message on Election Day that individual rights and justice for all are to be respected and protected, and that no one is above these bedrock American principles.

The full text of the endorsement announcement is available here. For more information about Rothstein and Saltz, and the Democratic judicial candidates for statewide positions, click here.

 

Progressive Economics and Capitalism Are Allies, Not Enemies

By State Senator and PA-7 Congressional Candidate Daylin LeachLeach Headhsot Cropped

The preamble to our Constitution says that we are to strive to “form a more perfect union.” The key word in this passage is “more.” We are to be in a constant state of improvement. Perfection will always elude us. America will always have problems. It is how we handle them that will tell our tale.

In 2017, our problems seem overwhelming. Climate change, a broken political system, and a President who is hostile to even the most fundamental American values. However, a good argument can be made that the problem that most threatens our cohesion as a nation is economic.

We have the greatest income and wealth disparity in 100 years. One percent of the population controls almost half of our wealth. The bottom 80% of us control only 7%. Over the past quarter-century, while the wealthiest among us have seen their income go up 300%, the average American hasn’t seen their income go up at all. Ninety-eight percent of all new wealth created goes to the top 1%.

Average Americans can’t afford to send their kids to college or save for retirement. The minimum wage hasn’t gone up in over a decade, and those living on it are spending their days struggling to buy even the basics. The middle class has shrunk by 30% over the past 35 years, as more and more people slip into poverty.

All of this is not only tragic, it is unsustainable. Those who are struggling so much are increasingly angry. We face possible consequences ranging from economic collapse to social unrest, if we don’t address this issue. Yet, the current administration in Washington is trying to enact policies to make this bad situation far worse.

There are a few basic steps we can take to stabilize things and allow everyone to live at least a somewhat decent life. We could raise the minimum wage to a livable wage, make health-care a human right that cannot be taken away, enact reasonable family-leave and sick-time policies, and begin treating college like high school and provide a cost-free option for every child with the talent and desire to go.

The problem, however, is that we too often allow partisan and ideological rigidity to get in the way of problem-solving. In the PA Senate, I have personally seen knee-jerk opposition on the part of some to every single proposal that improves the lives of workers in any way. Some of that is simply a morally inexcusable indifference to how people are forced to live.

However, as a progressive, I can say that some of it is our fault. For too long, we have framed the issue as a zero-sum game. “Pay your workers more!” we shout, or “Give them more paid time off!” It is not difficult to see why some in the business community feel like progressives view business as an ATM of benefits, without any concern for the survival of the business itself.

We have to change. I’m not suggesting abandoning progressive values. What I am suggesting is making business part of the conversation and part of our vision for what America could be. I’ve recently spoken to a number of very enlightened entrepreneurs. They recognize that a worker who is living a decent life is a happier, healthier, more productive, and more loyal worker. Employers who already have internal policies similar to what I am calling for as public policies have lower turnover rates and spend less on retraining. Workers who aren’t worried about how they are going to afford dinner can focus on solving work-related problems. Giving employees a paid sick day prevents them from coming into work and infecting everyone else. Workers paid well enough to afford the products their employer sells increase demand for those products and add to their company’s bottom line.

I think we have to make the case that progressive policies don’t benefit workers at the expense of employers but, rather, benefit both workers and employers. We are all in this together, and together, and only together, we can all create a brighter future.

Daylin Leach represents the 17th District in the PA State Senate and is running for the U.S. House in PA’s 7th Congressional District, which includes parts of Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Chester, and Lancaster Counties. A longtime resident of PA-7, Senator Leach won election to the PA House in 2002 and was elected to the PA Senate in 2008.

It Can Happen Here

By Burt Siegel

Burt at Jef Pollock EventPresident Trump’s pitiful statements about the violence in Charlottesville re-ignited the debate concerning his attitudes about the Jewish people. In defending Trump, his supporters often point to the fact that his daughter Ivanka married a modern Orthodox Jew and converted to Judaism. However, this ploy continues to have little sway, as Trump remains an unpopular figure with most American Jews (see article in New York Times, August 23).

But no matter how much we opposed a Trump presidency, it is likely that few of us thought we would see men wearing Nazi regalia cursing and physically attacking Jews, African Americans, Gays, Hispanics, immigrants, and anyone else they hate on the streets of one of our most progressive college communities. Nor would we believe that any President, even one as inadequate and vile as Donald Trump, could see such violence and respond by only uttering “a plague on both your houses” sort of statement.

Despite this, poll after poll shows Trump maintaining tremendous support among Republicans (see Gallup poll, for example). What does our faith have to say about this unyielding support? We are told in Leviticus that God forbids us to stand idly by while our neighbor bleeds. But members of the Republican party, with few exceptions, have done just that. It is ironic that many of these elected officials have been critical of moderate Muslim leaders for not taking stronger positions in opposition to Islamic extremism. Certainly, to do so outside the U.S. takes a good deal of courage. Yet we have seen very little courage on the part of Republican members of the House and Senate. And those who have criticized Trump typically have little to fear when it comes to their political futures.

See Hear Speak No Evil

When I think about those who do nothing as others suffer, I am reminded of a passage from Dante’s Inferno. Dante and his guide Virgil pass by a group of dead souls outside the entrance to Hell. These individuals, when alive, remained neutral at a time of great moral decision. Virgil explains to Dante that these souls cannot enter heaven because of their neutrality in the face of evil. They are therefore worse than the greatest sinners and are condemned to the hottest circle. If this assessment strikes some as too harsh, so be it.

So, what do we progressive Jews do now? Atonement and well-meaning lawn signs opposing hate don’t change very much. If we truly care about the future of our nation and the legacy we will leave for our children and grandchildren, we must do all that we can to change the character and culture of our government. Republican elected officials, at every level, must be made to understand that if they don’t denounce the Trump administration and call for his removal from office now, they are accessories to the crime of a war on our American democratic values.

With this in mind, I urge DJOP supporters to call Republican Congressmen and Senators, even Republican state legislators, as well as party officials, and ask them what they are planning on doing to save our nation. And encourage your family and friends, regardless of their faith, to do the same. For a directory of members of the U.S. House and Senate, click here; for a directory of members of the PA General Assembly, click here.

I recently reread Sinclair Lewis’ frightening 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here about a fascist government taking over America. In the novel, the president’s appeal was largely to white, economically frustrated men. Increasingly, his rhetoric was racist, anti-Semitic and misogynistic, and before long, he establishes concentration camps to imprison his political enemies. Contrary to the title of his book, Lewis was actually cautioning that something like this could happen here. While I’m loath to be overly dramatic, present circumstances have caused me to worry that Lewis’ dystopian view of our future could become a reality.

We are seeing evidence of the first part of Lewis’ premonition. A candidate, who largely appealed to white, economically frustrated men, has won the presidency. His rhetoric is increasingly racist and anti-Semitic; he shows little regard for women and the issues that affect them.

Will the second part of Lewis’ premonition materialize? Will this president turn from using mean-spired statements to silence his opponents, to downright tyrannical methods? Whether this happens is up to us. Don’t take anything for granted.

Burt Siegel is a founding member of DJOP and serves on DJOP’s leadership team. He formerly served as Executive Director of the Philadelphia Jewish Community Relations Council. He also served as the Vice Chair of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. He has been honored by the NAACP, the Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, B’nai B’rith Educators, Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations and the Japanese American Citizens League. For questions or comments about the commentary above, contact Burt at burtsiegel@gmail.com.

Is Control of the U.S. House Within Democrats’ Reach in 2018?

By Bill Madway, DJOP

i115th Congress_FINAL

The 2018 midterm elections offer a critical opportunity for the Democratic Party. Although it won’t be easy – due, in large part, to gerrymandering – we have a realistic chance of winning control of the U.S. House. All 435 seats in the House will be up for election. With the GOP currently at 240 seats and the Democratic Party at 194 (one seat is vacant due to the resignation of Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz), we need a net gain of 24 seats to take the House.

One reason for optimism is that the President’s party typically loses seats in the House in midterm elections. Over the past 18 midterm elections, which dates back to Harry Truman in 1946, the President’s party has lost an average 25.6 seats in the House. So, the gain we need (24) is within this parameter.

Another reason for optimism is the Democratic Party’s current standing in “generic ballot” surveys, that is, in polls that ask people which party they would support in a Congressional election. According to FiveThirtyEight’s most recent findings, Democrats hold a 10-point lead vs. the GOP in the generic match-up. The figure is similar in RealClearPolitics’ most recent calculations; Democrats hold a 9-point lead.

What does this mean?

In a recent report, Alan I. Abramowitz of Sabato’s Crystal Ball writes, “…Democrats will need a lead of at least five points on the generic ballot in early September of 2018 in order to gain the 24 seats they need to take control of the House” (emphasis mine). The recent poll results compiled by FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics show that the five-point threshold is well within reach.

Looking specifically at Pennsylvania, our state will play a pivotal role in the battle for control of the House. In a recent column published by PolticsPA, Louis Jacobson, senior correspondent for PolitiFact and a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times, identified four House incumbents as vulnerable to ouster. All four are Republicans from Southeastern PA – Ryan Costello (PA-6), Pat Meehan (PA-7), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-8), and Lloyd Smucker (PA-16). All of the Democrats in the House, except Matt Cartwright, who represents the 17th Congressional District (Wilkes-Barre, Scranton and Easton), are considered safe. Cartwright is rated as potentially vulnerable.

Kyle Kondik, Managing Editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball is not as bullish on the Democrats’ chances in these four races. In a July 27 column, he rates all four as “Leans Republican,” but this represents a downgrade from “Likely Republican” for Costello and Meehan. So, if strong Democratic candidates are selected in the 2018 Primary Election, and Trump’s approval ratings continue to fall, all four of these seats could realistically flip. Looking at the incumbent Democrats, Kondik rates Bob Brady (PA-1), Dwight Evans (PA-2), Brendan Boyle (PA-13), and Mike Doyle (PA-14, Pittsburgh) as “safe.” Democrat Matt Cartwright (PA-17) is rated “likely” to win.

What are the implications of these predictions for Democratic voters?

While the signs are encouraging, they’re only signs. Action is required to turn them into reality. If you reside in one of the “flippable” district discussed above, get involved in the primary process now as some candidates have already announced. Investigate them, and if there is someone you support, volunteer for her/his campaign, make a contribution, etc. Don’t wait until 2018 to bring your resources to bear; beating an incumbent is seldom easy and can’t be done, if people wait until after the Primary Election to get involved.

For PA Democrats who reside in a Congressional district currently represented by a Democrat, you’re in an enviable position. Your Representative in the House is very likely or likely to win re-election in 2018. But you can’t take anything for granted; so making sure your Representative is re-elected in job one. However, you can do more, much more. You can help Democrats running in nearby Congressional districts win by volunteering and providing much-needed funds. And as I said above, don’t wait until 2018 to get involved.

A final word.

In response to the question I posted at the outset, yes, the Democratic Party can win control of the U.S. House in the 2018 midterms. Pennsylvania, as it has many times in the past – look no further than the 2016 presidential election, for an example – will play a pivotal role in the outcome. And this means all of us have an important role to play. There are several “flippable” seats in PA. As long as each of us does not confine our electioneering efforts to the arbitrary boundaries of our own Congressional district, we will defeat several GOP House incumbents in PA, getting our party closer to the majority in the House.

Bill Madway is part of the leadership team of Democratic Jewish Outreach PA. He has 25+ years practicing and teaching marketing communications and market research. For questions or comments about the commentary above or other topics, contact him at 610-527-9502 or wmmadway@gmail.com.

DJOP Supporters Help Senator Casey’s Re-Election Campaign Get Off To A Fast Start

By DJOP’s Bill Epstein

A standing-room only crowd of more than 100 DJOP friends showed its strong support for U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s re-election campaign at a March 12 brunch hosted by Linda and William Madway. The group raised more $20,000 in important early funds for Senator Casey’s bid for a third term. Senator Casey reads letter from distraught mother

In stark contrast to many of his colleagues on the other side of the aisle, who have gone into hiding – refusing to take phone calls from their constituents or to hold in-person town hall meetings during the Senate and House district work period – Senator Casey mingled easily with the crowd before speaking and taking questions.

Casey detailed the assault by President Trump and Republicans on the Affordable Care Act, which has provided benefits to tens of millions of Americans and reduced the number of Americans without health insurance by more 20 million people. He promised to “fight like hell” to prevent the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. He also pledged to continue holding Trump and his administration responsible for its attacks on public education, its behind-the-scenes dealings with Russia, and its “discriminatory, un-American immigration orders that are making us less safe in the world.”

When asked what people can do to oppose and stall the Trump agenda, Senator Casey urged attendees to maintain pressure on Congressional leaders. He saiCasey Event Collaged the phone calls and other messages are getting through to Republicans and making a difference.

As it turned out, the brunch was a dress rehearsal for an even bigger event Senator Casey had on his schedule for March 12. Following the DJOP gathering, Senator Casey held a town hall at the Penn Museum on the University of Pennsylvania campus. A crowd of close to 750 people attended an responded enthusiastically to Pennsylvania’s senior senator. (Click here for details.)

We are very grateful to Senator Casey for meeting with us and sharing his views. And we appreciate the financial commitment and warm response to Senator Casey from DJOP supporters.

 

DJOP would like to thank Bonnie Squires for the photos above.

%d bloggers like this: