U.S. House District 12: Jerry Dickinson, Steve Irwin, Summer Lee, William Parker, and Jeff Woodard | Election Guide | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

U.S. House District 12: Jerry Dickinson, Steve Irwin, Summer Lee, William Parker, and Jeff Woodard

click to enlarge U.S. House District 12: Jerry Dickinson, Steve Irwin, Summer Lee, William Parker, and Jeff Woodard
CP Illustration: Lucy Chen
Steve Irwin, Jeff Woodard, Summer Lee, William Parker, and Jerry Dickinson
This race will determine who will fill the seat left by U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Forest Hills), who announced his retirement last fall. The newly-drawn 12th congressional district covers the entire city of Pittsburgh, along with multiple Allegheny County suburbs and the western edges of Westmoreland County.

Jerry Dickinson

Bio: Constitutional law professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Born in McKeesport and raised in the Allegheny County foster care system before being adopted by parents in Shaler. Ran against Doyle in 2020.

Abortion: Website states “access to abortion is a constitutional right and must be protected.” Supports Women’s Health Protection Act to “codify Roe v. Wade into federal law.” During April 13 debate at Point Park University, said he would “advocate for the Biden administration to lease federal land for abortion providers so that they won’t be subjected to state laws that are abortion-restrictive.”

Infrastructure: Applauded Congress for passing $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, calling it a “transformational bill” that will “revitalize our roads, bridges, highways, waterways, and public transportation systems” and create “millions of jobs, including union jobs.” Believes Pittsburgh region will “benefit immensely from the package.”

Climate Change: Supports Green New Deal and believes Congress can and should act to “expand sustainable energy industries, create millions of good-paying union jobs, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and transition away from fossil fuels to 100% clean and renewable energy by 2030.” Has not called for immediate ban on fracking.

Racial Justice: As a Black man, says he knows “the trauma and humiliation of being punched, kicked and violently slammed to the ground by a police officer.” Demands greater accountability and reform of the prison system and law enforcement. Will support federal legislation to create a reparations commission and introduce legislation to implement a nationwide reparations program.

Endorsements: Teamsters Joint Council No. 40, former Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chair Jim Burn, various current and former local elected officials and community leaders, etc.

Steve Irwin

Bio: Attorney specializing in business and labor law. Lives in Squirrel Hill. Former aide to U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. Allegheny County Democratic Committee member for more than three decades. Held leadership positions in groups such as Sustainable Pittsburgh, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, and the regional chapter of the Anti-Defamation League.

Abortion: Tweeted “Every woman has the fundamental right to protect her health and well-being” and “In Congress, I'll sign on and push to pass legislation codifying Roe v. Wade as the law of the land.”

Infrastructure: Vocal advocate for expansion and improvement of southwestern Pa. transit system. Website says he will modernize and grow the region’s light rail system, so the "T" “extends to more neighborhoods and communities.” Takes credit for helping to build the MLK East Busway and rehabilitate Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin Bridge and the Johnstown Incline.

Climate Change: On Vote411, said we are “facing an existential threat from climate change, and we need to work together to transition to a green energy economy.” Believes achieving President Biden’s goal of carbon neutrality no later than 2050 can be done in ways that help southwestern Pa. “flourish.” Until then, supports continued use of gas drilling to ensure “economic health of many communities depend on it,” according to WESA.

Racial Justice: On April 22, told Jewish Insider he was disturbed by Confederate flags and “Nazi memorabilia” he encountered while touring rural Pennsylvania and says he personally experienced anti-Semitism. Told Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle that “structural and systemic racism in society” needs to be eliminated and he supports school programming to “help students come together and understand how extremism is the enemy of democracy.”

Endorsements: Allegheny County Democratic Committee, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, former Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Democratic Majority for Israel, Pro-Israel America, various union groups including Steamfitters Local Union 449 and Iron Workers Local Union No. 3, etc.

Summer Lee

Bio: In 2018, became first Black woman from southwestern Pa. elected to state House. Born and raised in North Braddock. Howard University School of Law graduate. Founded UNITE PAC to support other progressive candidates, particularly women, LGBTQ candidates, and candidates of color. Won re-election in 2020.

Abortion: States on campaign website, “Our constitutional right to abortion care faces the greatest threat in its history, and Congress must do everything in its power to protect this fundamental right.” Believes abortion bans and attacks on reproductive health care disproportionately impact “Black and Brown communities,” as well as the LGBTQ+ community.

Infrastructure: In 2021, Lee touted her district receiving $10 million in Commonwealth Financing Authority grants for infrastructure, parks, and recreation projects. Joined other state Democratic lawmakers in urging federal support for extension of the Martin Luther King East Busway and Mon-Fayette Expressway.

Climate Change: Says she will fight for a Green New Deal to “transition to a 100% clean and renewable energy economy.” Wants immediate ban on fracking.

Racial Justice: Wants to make voting more equitable for Black and Brown voters by working to strike down “racist voter ID and suppression laws, restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act, and end gerrymandering.” Opposes harsh legal penalties and immigration reforms that target low-income and communities of color.

Endorsements: Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Progressive Democrats of America, Young Democrats of Allegheny County, Working Families Party, BlueAmerica PAC, Clean Water Action, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Steel City Stonewall Democrats, Sunrise Movement (Pittsburgh and national), various union groups, etc.

William Parker

Bio: Grew up in the North Side and now lives in Garfield. Ran as write-in candidate for Pittsburgh Mayor in 2021. Nephew of Pittsburgh Pirates player Willie Stargell. Self-described “Economic, Tech & Diversity advocate.”

Abortion: During Point Park Univerity debate, claimed to favor abortion rights but said there should be a “cap on how many abortions one can have.” Said “I wouldn’t like hearing about a woman [who] had 10 abortions. Why? What’s the need for that?” He then thanked his mother “for not killing me or aborting me.”

Infrastructure: Based on social media presence, seems to support President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. Tweeted that people should vote for him if they “want to see our bridges rebuilt together by Black, White & Brown people.”

Climate Change: Tweeted support for post from California nonprofit Urban Habitat, saying Biden’s infrastructure package would “dismantle the roots of the #climate crisis in America—and address structural racism.”

Racial Justice: Advocates diversifying Pittsburgh’s growing tech economy so Black communities can participate and benefit. According to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Parker believes technology can level playing field for Black residents facing “numerous economic disparities.” Tweeted that he’s “the only candidate in this race who advocates for more investments in Black startups” in the tech sector. Has criticized what he sees as the city’s lack of support for Black businesses.

Endorsements: None found

Jeff Woodard

Bio: Born and raised in Erie. Executive director of PA College Access Program. Served as assistant to Pa. lieutenant governor in 2003-2004 and constable for the Pa. State Constable office in 2004-2005. Former adjunct professor in criminal justice, business, and philosophy at CCAC and Robert Morris University. Campaign focused on economy and jobs, education, health care, immigration, LGBTQ equality, and veterans.

Abortion: During Point Park University debate, said he wants to leave the issue to Congress or the Supreme Court to make a decision.

Infrastructure: No clear stance on infrastructure.

Climate Change: During Point Park University debate, took no position on fracking and said he first wants to read more on the topic.

Racial Justice: According to WESA, opposes efforts to reduce police funding and favors more training and a national police registry for officers with troubled pasts, saying, “If they commit a crime, get into trouble, they should be going into a national registry so that we know their background no matter where they go.”

Endorsements: None found