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WESA Candidate Survey: Mandy Steele and Ted Tomson on the issues

We surveyed Republican Ted Tomson and Democrat Mandy Steele, the candidates for Pennsylvania's 33rd State House District, on top issues for the 2022 election.

About the WESA Candidate Survey: WESA sent surveys to all candidates running in competitive races for federal and state offices in our listening area, including Allegheny, Armstrong, Cambria, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. Our candidate survey was based upon input we solicited from voters.

We followed up with candidates multiple times via both phone and email. If a candidate did not respond, we have noted that below. (If you're a candidate and would like to complete the survey now, please email Patrick Doyle,

We have fixed basic capitalization and punctuation issues, but have not otherwise edited candidates' answers.

In the wake of the Dobbs decision, some state lawmakers believe Pennsylvania should ban abortion after six weeks, with no exceptions. Would you support such a proposal — yes/no?

  • Please explain your stance and identify other changes, if any, you would like to make to the state’s abortion laws.

Steele: No. I firmly believe the Constitutional right to privacy entitles women to make their own choices on reproductive health. I am alarmed at the extremist position that has taken hold of some in the state, including my opponent, who is unabashedly pro-life and is endorsed by LifePAC. In Harrisburg, I will fight tirelessly to ensure the women of Pennsylvania have the freedom to make these critical choices and not have these decisions made by the government.

Tomson: Did not respond.

Pennsylvania's minimum wage has been set at the federal rate of $7.25 an hour since 2009. Do you favor state action to change the minimum wage? Yes/no?

  • Please explain our stance and, if you support a change, identify the minimum wage rate you believe is appropriate.

Steele: Yes. We have all seen rising prices for the cost of living recently and more broadly since the minimum wage was raised thirteen years ago. Often, minimum wage workers are struggling to raise a family or pay their way through school. With a minimum wage of $7.25, it’s very difficult to make ends meet and I think the time is right to bump than number up and give some relief to this segment of our workforce.

Tomson: Did not respond.

Do you support no-excuse mail-in voting in Pennsylvania — yes/no?

  • Please explain your stance and identify any other changes you believe should be made to state voting laws.

Steele: Yes. No-Excuse voting worked well in 2020 and I support it going forward. Not everyone can get to the polls for election days. People have limitations through their employment, child care and for health reasons. Giving our citizens an opportunity by mail voting has increased participation while taking off the travel burden to the polls for seniors, single parents and workers who cannot easily make it to the polling station. Furthermore, I am convinced that mail in voting can and is being implemented in Pennsylvania in a manner that protects the integrity of the vote count.

Tomson: Did not respond.

Do you support Pennsylvania’s involvement in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which sets pricing for carbon emissions — yes/no?

  • Please explain your stance, and describe any changes you wish to see to state energy or climate policy.

Steele: Yes. Pa. has a long and proud history of energy production and manufacturing. The Commonwealth is the largest exporter of electricity in the entire country. SWPA in particular has the workforce and infrastructure we need to be a national and global leader in clean energy and manufacturing production, while creating family sustaining, union jobs and growing our economy, lifting all of our communities up in the process. Now more than ever, we have an incredible opportunity to create jobs and rebuild our once vibrant economy, renewing manufacturing and energy production in this region while protecting our air and water. This is an exciting time, but we will miss our chance if we do not act now. These jobs and investment will move fast. We must send representation to Harrisburg that will work to drive that investment and job creation to SWPA. As a representative of our district, I’d continue my long history of championing the environment while prioritizing thriving communities and working families. I have a years long track record of working with people on both sides to achieve these worthy goals. I will work with all stakeholders so that we move forward together on this energy path as a strong team. Our moment is now to steer clean energy and infrastructure investments to our district, and I’d be laser focused on making that happen, preserving our generations long history as a vital energy hub in the country. Participating in RGGI will allow PA to invest in our workforce and allow us to make targeted investments to support workers and communities affected by energy transition and strengthen Pennsylvania’s clean energy, commercial, and industrial sectors.

Tomson: Did not respond.

Inflation is a concern for Pennsylvanians, and some legislators have called for either reducing or suspending the 58-cent-a-gallon gas tax. Would you support such a measure? Yes/no?

  • If yes, how would you replace the revenue to pay for State Police and road spending — and are there other inflation-fighting policies you would pursue?

Steele: Yes. Our state’s gas tax helps pay for important infrastructure upgrades in Pennsylvania. With that said, I know the rise in gas prices over the last year have hit drivers hard. I would be willing to vote to suspend or temporarily reduce the gas tax to give some relief to our state’s drivers and businesses.

Tomson: Did not respond.

In the face of rising homicide and other crime rates, would you support requiring universal background checks for gun purchases? Yes/no?

  • Please explain your stance, and describe other approaches to fighting crime that you would support.

Steele: Yes. I am a defender of the 2nd amendment and an advocate for hunters. I plan on sharing that love with my children when they get old enough, as so many in our region do. However, I am also very much in favor of sensible gun laws that keep guns out of the hands of people who could use them to do harm. We have all seen the unending stream of public shootings in the last few months. I believe that background checks and other sensible gun measures are necessary to help ensure that guns do not fall into the hands of people with malintent.

Tomson: Did not respond.

School funding in Pennsylvania is heavily supported by property taxes. Would you support efforts to change that system — yes/no?

  • Please explain your stance and describe the changes you would support to how public education is funded.

Steele: No. I think the property tax system has worked as a baseline method for funding schools in Pennsylvania. I think it’s critical that the state supplements education funding from its coffers and money it receives from the federal government. As a state legislator, I will fight for increased pay for teachers to attract and retain the best talent as well as for money to innovate and upgrade our public schools.

Tomson: Did not respond.