Times 2022 election questionnaire: Chris Pielli, 156th District

Chris Pielli

It is time again — for the fourth straight election cycle — for The Times election questionnaire for legislative candidates — your chance to get an unfiltered look at candidates’ views on various issues. The questions were sent out in September to both major parties in the county, asking them to be distributed to the individual campaigns. As always, the answers are not edited and run as submitted. They will be run in the order they are submitted and all that are sent in will be run in a timely fashion.

  1. Was there widespread election fraud in Pennsylvania in 2020? Did Joe Biden fairly win the commonwealth? If you think there was fraud, explain in detail, specifically where there was fraud in your opinion. Also, should counties, such as Chester, be allowed to pre-canvass and do early counts on mail-in ballots? Explain why or why not.

There was no widespread election fraud in 2020.  Joe Biden fairly won the election according to Republican Officials in Georgia, Arizona and more.  Each of Trump’s lawsuits failed for lack of any substantial evidence.  It’s time to move on and get down to business rather than waste our time with delusional conspiracy theories.  Also, I strongly believe that we should pre-canvass our mail in ballots in order to obtain quick, accurate voting results.  Pre-Canvassing is practiced successfully in many other states and will help address any ballot issues that may present itself in a timely manner.

  1. In light of the Dobbs ruling this year by the U.S. Supreme Court, abortion rights are now left to the individual states. Do you support adding restrictions to the current Pennsylvania law?

No.  As the only pro-choice candidate running in the 156th, I will vigorously defend access to affordable health care to include women’s choice and reproductive rights. I will vehemently oppose anti-abortion policy measures, such as PA Senate Bill 106 which aims to amend the state constitution and ultimately ban abortion in Pennsylvania. Although my opponent won’t answer this question, you deserve to know where your representatives stand whether you agree with them or not.  With that in mind I will state it unequivocally, A vote for me = A vote for women’s rights and women’s choice.

  1. Gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano has proposed slashing funding to public schools by as much as 50%. Do you support this concept and if so, how would local school districts pay to educate kids? If you don’t support this, do you feel public schools are underfunded, and if so, where would you find revenue to boost state contributions?

No, I do not support Mastriano’s irresponsible plan to slash funding to our public schools.  Our public schools have been grossly under funded for years.  When you compare how other states fund their public schools our performance is embarrassing.  We need to prioritize our children’s education and increase funding.  We can partially boost state contributions by levying a long overdue Shale tax. 

  1. Once again, a House bill would propose ending gifts and perks for legislators. Where do you stand on this bill? Is it appropriate for legislators to take gifts— trips and so on — from those lobbying them on various issues?

I support this type of legislation and believe that we can do a better job eliminating these types of “gifts” to our elected officials.    

  1. Bringing back a question from 2020 (as the situation is largely unchanged) Pennsylvania is still 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?

Yes. Our record for funding our higher education institutions is deplorable compared to most other states.  We need to drastically improve funding.

  1. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (who is currently the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee) 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?

I support these initiatives. 

  1. We’ve seen claims by some candidates that police are underfunded, resulting in rising crime. 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?

I am the FOP endorsed candidate for the 156th.  I am a proud supporter of our local law enforcement now and as a past Township Supervisor.  I have worked in the criminal justice system for many years as a Correctional Officer and Attorney, and I know that we cannot afford to underfund the police.  I believe that we must develop a better, more reliable method of consistent funding for law enforcement that all levels of government must participate in to include increased state and federal funding.  

  1. With the growth of gun violence in the commonwealth in recent years, do you support changes to gun safety laws in Pennsylvania?

I am a gun owner, licensed to carry a concealed weapon, and an Army Veteran that supports the 2nd Amendment but recognizes the commonsense need for legislation that protects our constituents from gun violence and unsafe practices.  I favor comprehensive background checks, waiting periods and gunlock/home safety initiatives. Gun violence in Pennsylvania is a public health crisis. The sensible approach to this is to promote less guns on the street not more.  That is why I am against the Republican proposed legislation SB 565 making it legal for anyone, without a license, in the state, to openly carry firearms of any kind in public, and lowering the age at which teens can legally carry guns.  This makes no sense when trying to mitigate gun violence harm in our community and makes it more challenging for our local police to do their job. This is West Chester, not the wild west.

  1. Fracking and the Mariner East II pipeline are increasingly becoming controversial in Chester County, especially after a number of events — including discharge into Marsh Creek State Park. 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?

I don’t believe the DEP has properly supervised the Mariner East pipeline.  We need more legislative oversight and safety regulation on these types of projects.  This requires more funding and resources to increase the DEP’s ability to monitor and supervise this industry properly.  We must also update the crimes code to better punish and prosecute environmental crimes like the incidents our community has suffered.  To help fund these initiatives we should initiate a fair shale tax like many other states do.  The proceeds can help fund these initiatives and help to fund transitioning to green energy. As a Township Supervisor I fought hard against the Mariner pipeline coming into our community.  Since then, the current reality is that Pennsylvania is now one of the largest gas producers in the U.S, accounting for 9% of the country’s total natural gas production. I support initiatives like RGGI, and legislation that accelerates the transition to a green energy future but to immediately stop fracking without alternative energy sources in place would not seem prudent, especially in today’s economy and geopolitical environment.  For now, as we work towards a green energy future, I would prefer Attorney General Shapiro’s approach for responsible fracking and energy production that causes minimal harm to the environment to include, requiring disclosure of fracking chemicals before they are on-site, regulating smaller pipelines, improving, and implementing comprehensive health responses for communities near fracking sites, and expanding no-drill zones.

  1. Are Pennsylvania’s protections for the LGBTQ community adequate? Do you support existing gay marriage rights?

No, I do not believe they are adequate, and I would support legislation like the Fairness Act (H.B. 300) to ensure the protection of equal rights for LGBTQ Pennsylvanians. 

Yes, I do support existing gay marriage rights in Pennsylvania but would like to see them further protected.

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

Yes, as divisive as Harrisburg may seem, there are many bipartisan bills that never make it to the floor for a vote.  This is because the current procedural rules allow legislative leaders to kill these proposed bills unilaterally and without consensus.  Wouldn’t it be a pleasant change to see both parties working together to get some significant work done? We need to change the procedural rules to allow these bipartisan bills to come to the floor for an honest up or down vote.  Examples of some of the bills with bipartisan support include:  Broad Band access, Equitable School Funding, Minimum Wage Increase, Clean Transportation Infrastructure, and more.   

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

I was a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne.  I was also a Correctional Officer and Correctional Counselor at the Chester County Prison before I became an attorney.  The biggest surprise for folks may be that my smart and beautiful wife agreed to marry me.  We’ve been together for 26 years and have two wonderful kids.  Thanks Honey! 

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