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Hill-Evans selected by York Dems to run for 95th House seat

David Weissman
505-5431/@DispatchDavid
  • York City Council President Carol Hill-Evans was chosen by the York County Democratic Party to run for 95th House seat.
  • The party needed to find replacement for Rep. Schreiber after he announced he was dropping out.
  • Hill-Evans will have 80 days to campaign against GOP candidate Joel Sears.

York City Council President Carol Hill-Evans was selected by Democratic Party of York County on Wednesday night to replace Rep. Kevin Schreiber on the ballot for the 95th House seat following a public forum at The Bond in downtown York.

Carol Hill-Evans greets friends before the start of a forum to meet the candidates interested in filling the upcoming 95th Legislative District vacancy, Wednesday, August 17, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

"Yay!" was Hill-Evans' immediate response following the announcement.

Hill-Evans was one of six participants in the forum, along with: West York Borough Council President Shawn Mauck; Edquina Washington, the city's director of community relations; Don Hake, a business broker in the city; realtor Brian Pendergast; and J.P. Kurish, who works for the state Senate Democratic Caucus in Harrisburg.

A total of 26 committee members submitted votes, and Hill-Evans received 16, according to a tally handed to party chairman Chad Baker. Mauck and Washington each received four votes, and Kurish received the other two.

Hill-Evans sold herself during the forum as someone who is already well-known in the community, which is important with only 80 days remaining to campaign before the election.

"I already have a rapport with the TV cameras and reporters," said Hill-Evans, who is in her ninth year on the city council. "That's very important to win."

Baker said selling Hill-Evans to the community won't be difficult with her long history of public service.

Hill-Evans said her next 80 days will be spent knocking on doors and listening to residents. The campaign will have no immediate impact on her role as council president, she added.

If she wins and is sworn into office in January, the remaining City Council members would have 30 days to nominate and then vote on a replacement for her council seat, according to assistant city solicitor Jason Sabol. If there would be a tie vote, Sabol said, Mayor Kim Bracey would cast the deciding vote — pretty much the only time the York City mayor gets a vote in council business.

Bracey, who attended the forum, said it would be bittersweet to lose her city's council president but gain a representative she's worked closely with for years.

"This community is poised to work behind her," Bracey said.

The forum was announced shortly after Schreiber, the incumbent seat holder, announced that he would drop out of the race to accept the position of president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance.

Schreiber off ballot for state House, taking YCEA position

Education funding and property tax reform were topics each of the candidates emphasized. Most candidates also expressed a desire to work on bipartisan legislation in a House that is currently controlled by the Republican Party.

Kurish got a particularly positive reaction from the audience when he said the Democratic Party needs to stop trying to appeal to GOP lawmakers through empathy and start making its arguments about economic benefits.

"We need to stop saying it's not fair (to have education funding disparities)," he said. "We need to start saying it's bad economics to have bad education."

The forum featured each candidate answering multiple questions selected by the party and submitted by residents. The candidates also participated in a "lightning round" that predominantly consisted of each candidate expressing agreement with widely held Democratic beliefs, including increasing minimum wage, pay equity for women and supporting LGBT anti-discrimination policies.

Exceptions during the round of quick-fire yes-or-no questions included Mauck supporting capital punishment and Kurish supporting a two-year budget cycle. Hill-Evans and Hake said they were undecided on the two-year budget cycle question.

The forum concluded with five minutes for each candidate to offer closing remarks.

Baker said he was impressed with all six candidates.

"When (Schreiber) announced he was dropping out, people started questioning our bench," he said. "Our bench runs deep. There's a lot of talent in this group."

Schreiber, the only York County Democrat currently serving on either the state House or Senate, will finish out his current term before moving into his new job Dec. 1.

Hill-Evans is expected to run against GOP candidate Joel Sears, pending approval by the state Democratic Party’s executive committee. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.