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Pennsylvania Attorney General Choose 1

Description of office: The basic duties of the Attorney General, as outlined by the Commonwealth Attorneys Act, are to: serve as the Commonwealth’s chief law enforcement officer; collect all debts, taxes, and accounts due to the Commonwealth; represent the Commonwealth and all its agencies in any action brought by or against the Commonwealth; administer the provision relating to consumer protection laws; and represent the Commonwealth and its citizens in any action brought about for violation of the antitrust laws.Term: 4 yearsSalary: $167,838Vote for ONE.

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Josh Shapiro (Dem)

Attorney General

Biographical Information

Education Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of Rochester, Class of 1995. Juris Doctor degree, Georgetown Law, Class of 2002.
campaign website http://www.joshshapiro.org/

What are your top three priorities to address as Attorney General?

We must continue battling the heroin and opioid crisis that is taking 12 Pennsylvanians’ lives each day. Our efforts must focus on a multi-pronged approach of prosecuting high-level drug dealers, holding pharmaceutical companies accountable and making treatment more accessible and affordable.

We must stand up for consumers against predatory lending companies, scammers, and others trying to take advantage of Pennsylvanians. That includes ensuring Pennsylvanians have access to affordable, quality health care.

We must keep our communities safe, by collaborating effectively across law enforcement, reforming our criminal justice system to ensure equal enforcement, taking crime guns off our streets, and much more.

The Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General is responsible for law enforcement and the equal protection of law for all citizens. What do you see as the primary challenges to achieving equality under the law?

Throughout my career in public service, I’ve always been someone who has stood up to defend all Pennsylvanians—no matter what they look like, where they come from, who they love, or who they pray or don’t pray to.

I have consistently defended the rule of law and Pennsylvanians’ rights against anyone, from high-level drug dealers, to predatory lending companies, to greedy pharmaceutical companies, to the federal government, and more. The laws of our Commonwealth and our country must be applied equally, and that can only be done by enforcing the law without fear or favor.

We must also ensure the highest ethical standards across law enforcement and our entire government.

What role will your administration play in reforming systemic problems and supporting restorative justice in our criminal justice system?

I’ve taken steps to reduce PA’s prison population and recidivism rate, and to instead focus on data-driven programs to eliminate bias in the system. I’ve also worked with Governor Wolf to form PA's first statewide reentry council to reduce barriers for those returning from prison. And I’ve created a statewide Conviction Integrity Unit to review past convictions.

This year, I brought together law enforcement, union leaders, and activists from across the Commonwealth to pass a bill that ends the practice of law enforcement agencies unknowingly hiring officers with documented patterns of excessive use of force or other misconduct.

I’m committed to finding fair methods that will reduce incarceration rates and discrimination.

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Heather Heidelbaugh (Rep)

Trial Attorney

Biographical Information

County Allegheny
Education J.D., University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law; B.A. in Economics and Political Science, University of Missouri-Columbia
Qualifications Experienced trial lawyer with more than 35 years of courtroom experience who understands the complexities of the law, the intersection between policy and law, and how the law impacts the lives of citizens

What are your top three priorities to address as Attorney General?

1. Keep PA Safe-The Commonwealth Attorneys Act states one of the main roles of the AG is criminal prosecutions. This would be my top priority. The AG works with local DAs and law enforcement to keep PA residents safe, including a strong commitment to addressing drug trafficking and the opioid crisis. 2. Put People Before Politics-Restore the AG’s Office to following mandates set forth in the Commonwealth Attorneys Act and perform lawyering for the people of PA versus using the office for political gain. 3. Protect the Mentally Ill-Establish a Blue Ribbon Panel of experts from PA to examine the treatment of the mentally ill, address the current state of mental illness, and more. The panel would issue a Report suggesting structural changes.

The Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General is responsible for law enforcement and the equal protection of law for all citizens. What do you see as the primary challenges to achieving equality under the law?

Keeping PA safe has to be the top priority of the AG. The AG’s statutory role is the prosecutor of crime. The AG has to prioritize resources, so scarce resources are used for the highest priority tasks of the office. Crime enforcement, in conjunction with the DAs is the first priority. Crime operates across County and jurisdictional lines, so coordination with multiple County DAs is critical. Investigations that may take years and cost millions can’t be wasted by prosecutors failing to follow criminal procedure. The AG must take an active role in the management of the office. The purpose of prosecuting crime is to ensure safety, not create headlines. With that purpose in mind, equal protection for all should be achieved.

What role will your administration play in reforming systemic problems and supporting restorative justice in our criminal justice system?

As the County Councilperson At Large on Allegheny County Council, I was critical of the operation of the county jail. The Allegheny County jail had more suicides than any other jail in the country. I determined that one county employee had repeatedly failed to process the proper release of a large number of people from the jail, and she was terminated. Each day someone is in jail, it cost taxpayers, they become a suicide risk and lose their liberty unnecessarily. As AG, I would continue to advocate for government institutions to properly run jails and prisons. Jails and/or prisons must be properly run so we have the space to jail criminals, not those who don’t belong there.

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Daniel Wassmer (L)

Attorney / College Professor

Biographical Information

County Pike
Education BA - Adelphi University 1983 MBA - Adelphi University 1986 JD - New York Law School 1989
Qualifications Educator, government attorney and someone with actual knowledge from courtrooms not a self aggrandized aspirational political office seat warmer....

What are your top three priorities to address as Attorney General?

-Major Criminal Justice Police Reform. -Decriminalize Marijuana (and other drugs) shifting to a medical treatment options (someone with a state authorized “license” can sell drugs reaping a huge profit but a person selling a nickel bag of marijuana is charged with a crime - shouldn’t be!) -Stopping the threat of Anti-Trust litigation by BOTH old parties which is used simply as a ploy to leverage “campaign contributions” as a form of legalized extortion against our competitive big tech firms and permitting a real “free market” to pick winners and losers (Note: This is the only time in modern history where companies delivering “convenience” and “lower prices for consumers” have been shaken down allegedly to protect consumers [what nonsense]

The Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General is responsible for law enforcement and the equal protection of law for all citizens. What do you see as the primary challenges to achieving equality under the law?

Education and I am the only educator in the field! Secondly Police Reform and I am the only person who has ever worked in a firm handling matters as an FOP outside counsel. In that role I personally saw the negatives of policing as well as people who were honest hard working “peace keeping” officers. We need fewer police and more peacekeepers. I have a plan including a non-confrontational resolution option which PA ought to explore as well as a plan to remove bad officers by removing the “wall of silence” within police departments. Lastly the silencing of people with “atypical ideas” created by the two OLD PARTIES needs to stop! Both of these parties purposefully engage in speech chilling behavior which is detrimental to IDEAS!

What role will your administration play in reforming systemic problems and supporting restorative justice in our criminal justice system?

That is my number one concern. The PA criminal system is a joke and the incumbent has literally done nothing to address it! He now wants 4 more years. Moreover the other OLD PARTY candidate also simply looks at this as a mental health issue and fails to address: economic issues, educational opportunities, rehabilitation, purposeful systematic discrimination literally caused by the US government, disparity in sentencing, how the justice system operates, etc..

I don’t see that the incumbent has ever held a position ever in the private labor market! Moreover the other OLD PARTY candidate seems inclined to handle election law challenges as a primary function. This is NOT what we need in PA from an Attorney General.

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Richard L. Weiss (Grn)

Lawyer

Biographical Information

County Allegheny
Education B.A. University of Pittsburgh J.D. University of Denver LL.M. American University M.B.A. University of Chicago
Qualifications Admitted to the Attorney Bar in Pennsylvania and New York.

What are your top three priorities to address as Attorney General?

1. Save the taxpayers’ money. Reduce prison population by 50%, by not seeking cash bail, not bringing charges merely for drug possession or consentual relations between adults. Only those who are actually a threat to the community should be incarcerated. Others should be diverted from the prison system to programs designed to help them pay their debt to society and reintegrate into the community. Prosecutorial resources can then be directed to addressing violent crime, combating corruption and consumer protection.

2. Reformation of the system of policing. Citizen Review Boards are only a start. Community and police must establish standards of conduct and need special prosecutors for police misconduct.

3. Promote Restorative Justice.

The Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General is responsible for law enforcement and the equal protection of law for all citizens. What do you see as the primary challenges to achieving equality under the law?

The primary responsibility of the Attorney General is public safety, with the goal of attaining peace characterized by a community that is inclusive and harmonious. Conflict must be resolved in a way that restores peaceful social life. This can only be accomplished through respect of all members. The primary challenge now is lack of faith of the community in the police and of the police in the community. Our system of justice is based on the principle that it is better to let a guilty person go free than to convict an innocent one. I would rather take a bullet than shoot an innocent person. Let us develop a system of policing based on that principle. We must refrain from attacking, arresting or shooting anyone not actually a threat.

What role will your administration play in reforming systemic problems and supporting restorative justice in our criminal justice system?

My administration will support restorative justice, which is another way of viewing crime and how to respond to it. Restorative justice includes all parties in a collaborative process of apology, changed behavior, repair of the harm, and reintegration of parties with their communities. This process has a better record of reforming offenders and healing victims than simply punishment which has had a low success rate. It also diverts offenders from incarceration to alternatives like community service, but as agreed by offenders and victims, who are more likely to view it as a sincere apology if voluntarily undertaken than sentenced. I support the statements of former Austin District Attorney Ronnie Earl in this video: tinyurl.com/RonEarl.