2020 Leg. Candidate Questionnaire: Anton Andrew, 160th State House District

Anton Andrew

Editor’s Note: As has been our tradition, The Times sent our its annual questionnaire to all Chester County legislative candidates, via their respective party. We publish these responses entirely unedited and unfiltered to give readers an honest assessment of the candidates and their positions. They will be published as candidates return them to us.

  1. Although there are many major challenges facing Pennsylvania, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is currently front and center. There is stark disagreement in the current legislature on Gov. Tom Wolf’s handling of the Pandemic. What, if anything, would you do differently and why?

This pandemic is an international event. It knows no geographic boundaries. If one county is experiencing a rise in cases, unless all surrounding areas mask-up, socially distance, limit indoor shopping and shops, and limit all face-to-face interactions, the neighboring counties will see a rise in infections. If these were times when our country had good leadership in the White House, no one would be asking questions about state governors’ decision trees.

Looking back from today’s stand point, and asking, “How might I do things differently,” gives me the advantage of hindsight, not quite a legitimate way of assessing the Governor’s actions. If you look at where PA is in terms of COVID-19 cases, severity, deaths, hospital space, and in general a trending toward controlling the situation, PA is doing quite well. Gov Wolf’s rationale for some of the unpopular restrictions were well founded on movement of populations among geographic areas and the scientific information on how the virus spreads. The behavior modifications required were unpopular because they were inconvenient and had a negative economic impact. For the most part, Gov. Wolf chose life over economic profits. I believe history will see this as having weighed the cost benefit wisely.

The two initiatives I hope I would have taken are:

  1. Enhance the State Health Department response by collaborating or bringing on board specialists in the field of infectious diseases to assist Dr. Rachel Levine, who has no expertise in that field of study.
  2. And with a solid team as described in #1, more attention and oversight would have been given to long term care facilities.


  1. Although Pennsylvania was facing a fiscal shortfall before the pandemic, now it is expected to range between $3 and $5B. How would you close that budget gap? Cuts, taxes? Be specific, what programs/funding would you cut or what taxes would you raise (or work to create new revenue streams)?

While I am not an expert in the Budget process, I have been educating myself on these issues and using resources from expert groups, such the Keystone Research Center (KRC) and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC). They make a compelling case for bringing back the Capital Stock and Franchise tax on corporations with data demonstrating the falling general fund tax revenues from corporations since eliminating this tax. There was also a plethora of new loopholes in the corporate net income tax which must be eliminated.

Additionally, there is Pennsylvania’s major loophole, known as the ‘Delaware loophole’. This affords major corporations, think Walmart, Target, Exxon Mobil, CVS, and the like, internal accounting methods that allow for separate reporting on earnings and profits, allowing the profits to be shifted to stores in Delaware, which has no corporate tax. By requiring corporations with operations in multiple states to combine their reporting and profits, the corporations would pay their fair share to Pennsylvania.

In another study, independently of each other, both KRC and PBPC, explored a Fair Share Tax Plan, that would be both a major step at fixing the current system and would raise revenues needed. The key factors in this fair share plan is to consider one’s Personal Income Tax as two separate components which are taxed differently: a wage component (includes wages and interest) and wealth component (includes dividends; net income from business, profession, or farming; capital gains; net income from rents, royalties, patents, and copyrights; gambling and lottery winnings; and income from trusts or estates). By increasing the tax on the wealth portion and decreasing the tax on the wage portion, the KRC/PBPC report estimates that this new Fair Share Tax plan would give 47% a reduction in taxes, 35% no change in their taxes, and 18% an increase in their taxes. They further estimate this plan would bring in $2.2 billion new revenues.

  1. Public school funding and property taxes continue to be a concern in Pennsylvania — state funding of public schools as a percentage of budget continues to slide, a trend that is more than 30 years old. With litigation for fair funding in process, how would you change how the state funds its public schools.

With Pennsylvania’s flawed taxing system, embedded in the State Constitution’s 1884 Uniformity Clause, in part requires a flat tax, and in reality, the wealthiest corporations and individuals pay the lowest taxes, this inequity trickles down to the problems with funding public education. First and foremost, the State must do its fair share contribution of its public education system. By eliminating the major burden of funding from local governments, the property tax method of funding becomes less an issue. If the State is able to launch the Fair Share Tax Plan it might be a good model to use for also funding public education.

  1. Following on, Pennsylvania is 47th by some measures in funding higher education — many other state schools charge less for out of state students than Pa. schools charge for in state students. Is the state underfunding our higher education institutions?

For sure Pennsylvania is underfunding its institutions of higher learning. For anyone interested in the details, there is legislation proposed, The Pennsylvania Promise, which would make college affordable and in some cases free to attend.


  1. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman have come out strongly for legalization of marijuana for adults (and expunging records for those with possession convictions). Where do you stand on this issue?

One of the failings of our federal government is in its lack of research on marijuana (or cannabis sativa, the plant it is derived) and its health affects on brain function and the developing brain. The research is very limited since cannabis has been classified a Schedule I Drug which limits access to it for research. Marijuana has the same classification as drugs such as heroin, LSD, ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote. Most scientists and neuroscientist agree It is misplaced in this category. However, due to a lack of significant research there is not enough information to safely roll out this drug for general public use. There is preliminary work indicating negative effects on the developing brain. This is an important issue which needs to be evaluated.

As for decriminalization and expungement for possession of marijuana, this time has come. The criminalization of this drug has its history not based on scientific evidence but as part of the cultural war of the times in the late 60’s and early 70’s. No one has ever over-dosed from marijuana and the evidence for addiction is also not founded. Additionally, lower income populations are disproportionately convicted on possession charges (often due to inability to afford good legal counsel).

  1. Policing and its funding have been part of a national conversation of late. Should local municipalities be expected to pay more of the costs of State Police if they do not have local police? Additionally, does the state need to find a new funding mechanism for law enforcement funding, either locally or statewide.

The answer is not as simple as the question makes it out to be. Police, fire and EMT costs have the potential to bankrupt local governments in the next 15 years unless a more comprehensive approach is taken. That solution involves federal, state, county and local cost sharing so all communities will have equal access to quality public safety services in the future.

Looking at State Police funding alone, those municipalities that rely on the PA State Police instead of having a local police force strains the state police and their budget. At the same time relying exclusively on the State Police, removes the opportunity for community policing, as well as eliminating proactive approaches to reducing crime and identifying other critical community needs. And yet, many of municipalities in PA lack the resources to fund a local police force.

We need a more holistic approach to creating safe, healthy and caring communities. Federal, state, county and municipal governments must work in concert to provide adequate funding for the vital services needed to achieve this goal.

To achieve the best outcomes we have to stop expecting police to solve all of our problems and work out a funding model that allows police to focus on their jobs while empowering social service agencies to work with police to address issues like poverty, addiction, mental health and other issues with which social workers are trained to deal. This is the only way to spend our resources effectively and achieve better outcomes for everyone.

  1. Fracking and the Mariner East II pipeline are increasingly becoming controversial in Chester County. Has the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) properly supervised the pipeline construction? Also, where do you stand on fracking? Should it be halted in the state?

On fracking, I stand firmly against this destructive extraction process for many reasons.

  1. The process of high pressure fracturing of the earth substrate has been linked to stimulating earthquake development.
  2. This process creates leaks of methane into the atmosphere, which is a more potent greenhouse gas than even CO2.
  3. The process uses an enormous amount of water which is then contaminated.
  4. The process pumps a proprietary industrial mix of chemicals into the earth with the water. While the industry will claim there are only miniscule amounts of these (toxic) chemicals, some of these chemicals, such as benzene, are so highly toxic, miniscule amounts are all that is needed to cause problems.
  5. We need to be investing in renewable energy sources that do not pollute and do not add to our global warming problem.
  6. Finally, Pennsylvania’s 43rdStatewide Investigating Grand Jury report on the unconventional oil and gas industry has pointed out the failures of our state government agencies responsible for overseeing (criminal) fracking operations, which “…continue to this day.” (June 2020). Furthermore, this report has evidence of severe health consequences for those living near fracking drilling sites.

On the Mariner East Pipeline, breaches in this pipeline have already occurred. With the poor oversight seen by the government agencies responsible on the fracking industry, there is little confidence that the rigorous scrutiny needed to ensure safety will happen with the Pipeline.

  1. What changes, if any, do you support in terms of gun safety in Pennsylvania?

Gun violence is a complex issue and there is no one solution. But implementing and enforcing stronger background checks, ensuring domestic abusers and stalkers cannot get access to guns, and banning bump stocks as well as assault-style weapons for civilians are areas where there is agreement as to a sensible path forward. But nothing will change while our legislators are beholden to the NRA. I am not beholden to the NRA.

I have been an outspoken advocate of common-sense gun reforms. I helped create and bring forward gun safety resolutions in several local municipalities, including Kennett Square Borough and Kennett Township. I have also worked closely with local groups concerned with gun violence, including Delaware County United for Sensible Gun Policy and the NAACP. I have met with senior members of the Governor’s cabinet on their behalf, including the Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, discussing gun violence as a public health issue. I promise you that in Harrisburg I will champion meaningful gun safety measures to protect all of us. A Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate distinction recognition will get me closer to realizing our common goals in Harrisburg.

  1. With the nomination and likely confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court, it is possible that Roe v. Wade, the ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S., will be overturned, returning the issue to the states. Where do you stand and how would you vote if there was a bill banning abortion in Pennsylvania?

I stand firmly in alliance with Roe v. Wade and will explore every avenue possible to safeguard a women’s agency over her own body.

I will fight to keep abortion legal, just as the women before fought to bring us the reproductive rights we enjoy today.

Since I first ran in 2018, several bills have been introduced and passed by anti-abortion extremists in the legislature last session. All are intended to erode the protections of Roe v. Wade. If not for the veto power of Governor Wolf, who is in his last term, Pennsylvania would have some of the most repressive reproductive rights laws in the country. I am running again, to make sure we have a majority of legislators, who will ensure women in Pennsylvania keep autonomy over their bodies.

  1. Are Pennsylvania’s protections for the LGBTQ community adequate? If not, what would you change?

There is currently a bill sitting in the House State Government Committee, HB 1404, that would amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act of 1955, making it compliant with the recent US Supreme Court ruling (6-3) that work place and employment protections by someone who identifies as LGBTQ is covered under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Republican controlled committee has blocked this bill from moving beyond committee. There were similar bills in the State Senate, SB 224 and SB 614. Again, these are being held up by the Republican controlled committee chair, in this case Senate Labor and Industry.

I will work with my colleagues to ensure LBGTQ protections are incorporated in our state laws.

  1. Is there an issue in Pennsylvania you feel does not get enough attention that you plan to highlight if elected?


Regardless of age, gender, race, or political affiliation, we all depend on clean air, land and water. Protecting the environment is a priority we all share, and I will make sure it is a priority in Harrisburg.

I have spent the past 15 years helping to grow The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County into a nationally accredited land conservancy and, working with the Pennsylvania and Delaware Chapters of The Nature Conservancy, creating nature-based solutions to tackle climate change and protect our land and the quality of our water.

You can read my Op-Ed published in Chadds Ford Live presenting a path forward for the transition from fossil fuels to renewables.

  1. Getting personal, can you tell us something about yourself that might surprise people (ie, unusual hobby or pet, brush with fame, etc.)?

The newest member of our family is Rona.  Rona is a Catahoula Leopard Hound, rescued from Louisiana when Hurricane Laura hit, in late August (my ex-wife and daughter fell in love at first sight, when they spotted her at a local SPCA). And unlike the virus which inspired her name, she brightens every day.

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