Ray Sosa is running for Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He is the only Latino candidate in a field of eleven – three Democrats (including Mr. Sosa), seven Republicans, and one Libertarian – who have declared their intent to compete for the public’s votes in the May 17th primary election. If elected as the Democratic nominee, Ray would go to the general election in November representing the Democratic party against opponents from other parties. As Ray pointed out during his interview with Impacto, the election for Lieutenant Governor stands on its own – it is not tied to the election for Governor. As such, it is possible for the Lt. Governor and Governor to be from different parties. Ideally, voters elect the person who would be best for the job, regardless of party affiliation. To make the best choice on election day, voters need to understand what the role is responsible for. Ray Sosa sat down with Impacto newspaper to describe his intended approach:
Tell us about the role of Lieutenant Governor, and your vision for the office:
I’m going to tell you what the position does and why it’s so crucial for Pennsylvania. I’m the only Democratic candidate in this race who truly understands what this job is about, because of my past experiences. It’s important for Pennsylvanians to understand why it’s so important, when they go to the polls on election day.
The first responsibility of the Lieutenant Governor is to be the President for the State Senate. It’s a little bit like being a traffic cop – you have to direct traffic, and make sure Senate business moves forward. But you also have to act as a peacemaker, facilitating negotiations. You have to listen, and make space for people to say their piece. That’s the only way to build rapport and some unity within the Senate.
The second duty is one of my campaign pillars. The Lt Governor is the Chair of the Pardons and Parole Board of Pennsylvania. I have been involved in taskforces focused on criminal justice reform for many years. I have insight into how the commutation process should work – when incarcerated people apply for a reduction in their sentence. We have to allow returning citizens to be educated, partnering with nonprofits in the community who know how to work with the returning population. We also have to ensure people returning to their communities can get jobs. All the unions I’ve spoken to have agreed to accept returning citizens into paid apprenticeship programs, so people can begin to rebuild their lives and their families. I have been deeply involved in criminal justice reform since 1995, appointed by Governors to the Human Rights Advocacy Committee in the state. This will be a major area of focus for me as Lt Governor.
The third important responsibility of the Lt Governor is to serve as Chair of the Emergency Management Commission for the state. This body supports the response logistics anytime the Governor declares an emergency. I have been on eleven disaster taskforces since 1995. I have been to Haiti, to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, and have coordinated interstate responses as well. I am the best-qualified candidate for this responsibility.
The next area managed by this office is leadership of the Local Government Advisory Committee. This is a group that hasn’t convened formally in ten years, and it serves such a vital role. The Committee’s job is to connect the counties to the state government through the Lt Governor’s office, so we know what the needs are across the state. This Committee helps us know where the infrastructure is suffering and needs investment. It helps us build a network for disaster management, which is especially important as climate change affects our state.
And lastly, the Lt Governor provides leadership to the Military Community Enhancement Board. This board connects the Pentagon to the state through the Lt Governor’s offices, to respond to the needs of our military bases.
I am adding one more duty to these very basic responsibilities. I want to focus on small businesses, by creating a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs and small business owners to access financing, resources, and support. Right now, there are eleven state agencies involved in helping small businesses. Mom-and-pop shops don’t have the knowledge or the time to deal with that much bureaucracy. Forty percent of small businesses fail within the first two years, having a negative impact on families and communities. I have worked as an executive in seven national banks – I know how to support the small businesses that are the foundation of local economies.
And finally, I will represent the growing Latino community in our state. Everyone comes to Latino communities when they want our votes, but once the elections are over, we don’t receive the support or attention we deserve. I am looking forward to developing Latino leadership in executive positions in the state of Pennsylvania.