Santiago takes on incumbent Schweyer for 22nd House Race Seat

Written by on May 29, 2020

Santiago takes on incumbent Schweyer for 22nd House Race Seat

By K.C. Lopez

May 29, 2020

Enid Santiago [Left] and Representative Peter Schweyer [ Right]

Just days away from the primaries in Pennsylvania and with many voters opting to stay in, politicians are looking to get their message out before Election Day. 

WLVR’s K.C. Lopez caught up with the two Democrats eyeing a state house seat in Lehigh County.

It’s a battle between a political newcomer and the incumbent for the 22nd district house seat. 

Enid Santiago and Representative Peter Schweyer are competing to represent Center City Allentown and parts of East Allentown in Tuesday’s primary election where education is a top priority. 

COVID-19 related school closures emphasized the need for adequate funding. 

Enid Santiago calls the recent decision to exclude the district and its over 16,000 students from a 5 million dollar Continuity of Education Equity Grant unacceptable.

“Whatever happened, needs to be fixed—they need money. We’re the number fourth most funded district in the state; Philly is number 16 as a comparison.”

Meanwhile, incumbent Peter Schweyer says, the unexpected closures made the lack of access to technology for Allentown students blatantly apparent. 

“We have immediate concerns in Allentown on things like the digital divide for our students that have technology versus the students that don’t have access to technology,” said Schweyer.

Schweyer, who has represented the district since 2015 says, priorities have shifted as a result of the pandemic. The Center City Allentown native explains the economy and employment are now more important than ever. 

“The crisis has really, I don’t want to say changed our focus, but it’s put some things at the top of the list. We still need to have a state government that’s investing in jobs, that’s investing in the recovery from COVID. And so, when we’re talking about things like construction jobs… that’s the kind of thing that we know can be done relatively safely within a virus situation.”

Schweyer has placed emphasis on education and addressing teacher losses, while pushing for an increased minimum wage, affordable housing and partnerships between police and community watch groups to enhance public safety. 

Meanwhile, latino community organizer Enid Santiago is zeroing in on criminal justice reform, ending cash bail for low level offenses and Pennsylvania’s “Fair Funding Formula,” as well as doubling down on Allentown’s status as a sanctuary city. 

“I believe that the rights being provided to every single one of us out here, should be provided to our immigrant siblings; they’re no different. They’re simply having a rougher time trying to make the American dream and until we have an actual path to citizenship, we need to look out for them. And I have been fighting cash bail because it is the biggest inequity we see and we see it and nobody is doing enough to stop this,” said Santiago.

The Puerto Rican born, Vice President of a women’s non-profit reentry organization and the LANTA Board member and former Allentown City councilman agree, the pandemic has created new challenges for politics, but both are eager to serve the city they call home.

“This has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Mind you, I’ve been through the foster care system, I became a mom at the age of 15, I have been homeless. I’ve been through a lot in my life and the work that I’ve put into this campaign has really made me realize that I was preparing myself for this,” said Santiago.

“COVID has allowed us to reframe a lot of conversations that [are] really opening up new avenues for partnerships that frankly, are unheard of; you have to be creative in the way you approach problems and you have to look at things from multiple angles.”

Without a Republican candidate in the race, the winner of this primary will likely serve the 22nd district in 2021. 


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