Democrat Austin Davis is the new state representative for Pennsylvania’s 35th House District in the Mon Valley. On Tuesday, Davis defeated Republican Fawn Walker Montgomery to fill the seat vacated by Democrat Marc Gergely last fall.
Previously, Davis was an aide in the Allegheny County Executive’s Office. Davis, 28, said he will focus on creating jobs once he enters office. His district, he noted, has struggled economically since the decline of the steel industry.
“The first thing I plan to do, one, is start talking about how do we build connections to create jobs in the region?” he said. “That is my number-one, top priority – going out and recruiting jobs within the region, putting people back to work.”
“First and foremost, my job is to be a salesman for the region,” he continued. “It’s to be a partner with the companies downtown and the business community to talk about the assets that we have and why they should want to do business and create jobs in places like the Mon Valley.”
Davis sees opportunity to open former industrial sites to new employers in education, health care and tech.
This was Davis’s first run for legislative office. During his campaign, he also called for more public safety and transportation funding in his district.
Once he’s sworn in, he’ll be one of just three African-Americans from Allegheny County in the state House.
Tuesday’s special election was prompted by the resignation of state Rep. Marc Gergely. The Democrat pled guilty in November to participating in an illegal gambling machine ring.
The district includes Clairton, Duquesne, and McKeesport among other Mon Valley communities.