Political Forum with Sen. Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, and Democrat Janet Diaz

Democratic challenger Lancaster City Council Woman Janet Diaz, right, answers a question during a political forum livestream with Pennsylvania State Senator Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, serving the 13th District, in the LNP office at 101NQ in Lancaster Thursday Oct. 15, 2020.

Election 2020

To read this story in Spanish, click here. 

LNP | LancasterOnline asked each candidate in Lancaster County a set of questions and asked them to respond. We are publishing their responses, in their own words, with editing only for newspaper style and spelling.

The District: Of all the legislative races in Lancaster County, this is the most competitive. This district, which covers suburban, rural and urban areas, saw Democrats out-perform Republicans in raw voter registration numbers since 2016, when GOP Sen. Scott Martin won the seat. In 2018, former Democratic congressional candidate Jess King received 88 more votes than U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker within the 13th Senatorial District. These trends prompted the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Campaign Committee to target the 13th this year as they seek to regain a Senate majority. But Republicans still outnumber Democrats inside the district’s borders by more than 13,000 registered voters.

Represents: Lancaster city; Bart, Colerain, Conestoga, Drumore, East Drumore, East Lampeter, Eden, Fulton, Lancaster, Leacock, Little Britain, Manheim, Manor, Martic, Paradise, Pequea, Providence, Sadsbury, Salisbury, Strasburg, Upper Leacock and West Lampeter townships; and Christiana, Millersville, Quarryville and Strasburg boroughs.

Sen. Scott Martin, challenger Janet Diaz spar over pandemic response, budget and healthcare in debate
13 ° Distrito Senatorial Candidatos

Political Forum with Sen. Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, and Democrat Janet Diaz

Pennsylvania State Senator Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, serving the 13th District, during a political forum with Democratic challenger Lancaster City Council Woman Janet Diaz, in the LNP office at 101NQ in Lancaster Thursday Oct. 15, 2020.

Candidate: Scott Martin (incumbent)

  • Party: Republican.
  • Age: 48.
  • Residence: Martic Township.
  • Occupation: Lawmaker. Previously a county commissioner and employee at the Lancaster Youth Intervention Center.
  • Education: Millersville University, Bachelor of Arts in sociology and criminal justice

1. Why are you running? What is your pitch to voters?

I am running to continue my record of bipartisan, effective service to the people of Lancaster County. In just my first term, I have brought together Republicans and Democrats to pass 19 new bills into law, including: increased support for pediatric cancer research; creation of the Safe2Say Program that helps keep kids safe at school; helping volunteer fire companies; increasing DUI penalties for repeat offenders who cause the death of another; and much more.

I have also focused on the “big” issues: protecting taxpayers by bringing much-needed fiscal discipline to Harrisburg; supporting education (basic, career and technical, and higher ed), working to improve our health care system so it is more affordable and accessible; and, this year, responsibly addressing COVID-19. I am proud that in each of these areas I have achieved results. We have delivered record funding for education — so much so that we helped ensure two years of no tuition increases at state-owned universities. We have passed responsible budgets that focus on priorities without raising taxes. And when COVID-19 struck, we delivered emergency funding to health care providers and frontline workers for needed supplies (like PPE), vital support for nursing and long-term care facilities, and expanded testing across the state.

2. What are your priorities to help the state recover from the economic and human toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken?

Priority one must be safely and responsibly restarting our economy while following appropriate health guidelines. Once we get our economy moving and put people back to work, many of the challenges we face will begin to subside and the state will have the revenue necessary to provide help where it is most needed.

Priority two must be using actual data to make decisions that allow a safe return to a more normal life; this will improve the mental and physical health of Pennsylvanians. It will also allow those with other medical conditions to receive the treatments they have been denied through much of this shutdown; this will save lives.

While the governor took initial steps that many understood due to the unknown nature of the virus, recent events in federal court prove that — unfortunately — much of what we were told about “data driven decisions” in the ensuing months was simply untrue.

Pennsylvania is too diverse for one-size-fits-all solutions; different areas are impacted differently by the virus. We must safely restart wherever possible, provide help to vulnerable populations, and — especially — build a coalition of residents, legislators, the medical community, the small business community and others to make transparent decisions.

3. Can you briefly describe what you would do to address what residents have told us are the issues they are most concerned about: health care, the state budget and school property taxes? Given the 200-word limit, you may choose to respond to a single topic instead of all three.

Our first priority must be safely restarting our economy while following appropriate health guidelines. So many of the challenges state government will face in the coming years will be due to the economic impact of the protracted shutdown. On the health care front, I have supported reforms to help make health care more accessible and affordable, passed a law to better control prescription drug costs, and worked to eliminate fraud from Medicaid to allow more Pennsylvanians to get the coverage they need.

On the fiscal front, I have supported responsible budgets that focus on priorities like job creation and education without raising taxes. For education, we provided record funding — including a 41% increase for Thaddeus Stevens, which helps people secure good jobs — and passed landmark reforms to the State System of Higher Education that I authored. For property taxpayers, I have worked to relieve school districts of costly unfunded mandates that drive up property taxes, been a supporter of school property tax elimination for homeowners, and passed historic public pension reform to control costs. I’m also keeping my promise to refuse the pension and per diems.

4. Surveys show that partisanship is increasing and people of different political views are growing less trustworthy of one another. How will you seek to build bridges to voters who don’t support you or share your views?

I will do what I have always done: bring together people of different views, listen to their concerns and information, learn, and then work to build consensus. While partisanship may be on the rise on the political front, I believe my record proves I have been able to hold it at bay legislatively; if not, I would not have been able to shepherd 19 pieces of legislation into law in my first term.

I also believe that the media has, sadly, contributed greatly to the distrust of voters. Bias (and, yes, there is some on both sides) and agendas have replaced what was traditionally a presentation of facts that allowed voters to decide for themselves on important issues. Social media — in which people never have to look “outside their bubble” has contributed as well.

Throughout my career in public service, I have believed deeply in the power of ideas and the necessity of all views being allowed in the public square — because it is through listening to a myriad of views that consensus can be found. This is something I will always continue to support.


Political Forum with Sen. Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, and Democrat Janet Diaz

Democratic challenger Lancaster City Council Woman Janet Diaz, during a political forum livestream with Pennsylvania State Senator Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, serving the 13th District, in the LNP office at 101NQ in Lancaster Thursday Oct. 15, 2020.

Candidate: Janet Diaz

  • Party: Democrat.
  • Age: 54.
  • Residence: Lancaster city.
  • Occupation: Stroke secretary for Lancaster General Hospital.
  • Education: Attended Thomson Institute and Lancaster Bible College.
  • Family: Husband Konstantin.

1. Why are you running What is your pitch to voters?

I’m running because Lancaster County is worth fighting for. I’m running because 22,000 children and 50,000 adults in Lancaster County don’t have access to health care — and those were the numbers before COVID-19. With 18 years of experience in the health care industry, I have seen the system inside and out. I know how it works and how hardworking Pennsylvanians are being left behind.

As a member of Lancaster City Council, I’m an advocate for our community. I held the line on property taxes and voted for commonsense police reforms, including hiring a social worker in the police department, that will make sure our officers have every resource they need to keep our communities safe.

I know what it’s like to navigate a system that is built for the powerful, and not for the working families in our communities. When my family and I first came to Lancaster, my mom found work at minimum wage and we struggled as a result. Lancaster County deserves a state senator who understands the challenges working families face every day.

Throughout my entire life, I have been a fighter and I’m ready to fight for you.

2. What are your priorities to help the state recover from the economic and human toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken?

While we are still responding to the pandemic, we must ensure our health care system is adequately supported — something that would’ve been made easier if my opponent would have approved a county department of health when he was a county commissioner.

For businesses and farmers, we must make grant programs and resources available and accessible so they can recover as we plan to reopen safely. On Lancaster City Council, I made economic development funding available to businesses impacted by COVID-19.

We must ensure all our frontline workers are protected and taken care of. This includes having adequate stock of PPE, paid sick leave, and livable wages. Our frontline workers are nurses and public safety professionals, but also include food service workers.

3. Can you briefly describe what you would do to address what residents have told us are the issues they are most concerned about: health care, the state budget and school property taxes? Given the 200-word limit, you may choose to respond to a single topic instead of all three.

All Pennsylvanians deserve access to affordable, quality healthcare. I would end surprise medical billing, cap prices on prescription drugs, and ensure coverage for preexisting conditions.

On the state budget, we must reevaluate our tax structure. I support the Fair Share Tax plan that would bring an additional $2.2 billion in new revenue from finally assessing an equitable tax on the super rich and their amassed wealth while 82% of Pennsylvanians would see their taxes go down or see no change. Social Security benefits, pensions, and 401(k) distributions would not be taxed. Family-owned and other small businesses benefit from reporting their income as wages rather than business profits.

When it comes to education funding, the state of Pennsylvania has not met its obligations to fund our schools, which forces local governments to raise property taxes. We must implement the Fair Funding formula so school districts can get much-needed funding. School districts in the county could see their funding increase by millions of dollars.

4. Surveys show that partisanship is increasing and people of different political views are growing less trustworthy of one another. How will you seek to build bridges to voters who don’t support you or share your views?

When I was sworn into my seat on Lancaster City Council, I took my oath to serve my constituents seriously. When residents reach out to me for assistance, I ask what their problems are and how I can help. I never ask them what their party affiliation is.

Before deciding to run for this seat, I knocked on doors throughout the district to hear directly from voters about what mattered to them the most. I spoke to constituents of all party registration. Direct dialogue is something I value in this campaign and what I commit to if I am elected to serve the constituents of the 13th Senatorial District.