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Politics & Government

Dems Pick Arnet To Run For State Senate

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Voters in Pennsylvania’s 37th senatorial district now have two candidates from which to choose as they begin to think about the November special election. 

The Allegheny County Democratic Committee chose Heather Arnet as its candidate on Saturday. Last month the Republicans chose Guy Reschenthaler as its candidate.

The seat was left vacant when Democrat Matt Smith resigned to run the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. 

Arnet has been the CEO of the Women’s and Girls Foundation for the last 12 years. Among its other efforts, the foundation works to encourage and train women to run for political office. Arnet herself has never run.

“It’s going to be very good to have a woman running,” said Allegheny County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Nancy Mills. "We have no women in our legislature from the western part of the state.”

Mills is not worried about Arnet’s lack of political experience. She's been working within the political system for years, Mills said.

“And if you meet her, her temperament is one of listening and learning and I find her to be a very, very formidable candidate, she said.

Both parties will have to work to get their voters to the polls. Most races in the county are uncontested, including all three county-wide offices. The race gathering the most attention this year are for the three open seats on state Supreme Court, which historically does not draw voters to the polls. 

Arnet said she's ready to start the campaign in earnest. Her Facebook campaign page picked up 500 fans in its first few hours and the number continues to grow, she said. “Door knocking” efforts should begin this week.

“I think it is very important that there is a strong voice in Harrisburg for working families,” Arnet said of her campaign focus, “to make sure that our communities have great schools and great jobs and great companies who provide those jobs to our community in a sustainable way."

Anet said she is focused on education but did not give direct support to any of the budget options still circulating in Harrisburg as the stalemate between Republicans and Democrats stretches on, but did elude to the dangers of the Republican controlled House and Senate overriding the Governor’s budget veto.

Arnet, 41, of Mt. Lebanon graduated from Carnegie Mellon University. She also serves as board chair for the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership and the Ms. Foundation.