Upper Darby School Board Vice President and founder of veterans nonprofit compete for 164th seat
Upper Darby School Board Vice President Gina H. Curry and Taylor Made Vets Founder and Operator Brian Sharif Taylor will face off in the Nov. 2 ballot for the 164th legislative seat.
A special election is being held for the seat following the July 22 resignation of former State Representative Margo Davidson, D-164, from Upper Darby, who had held the seat since 2011.
His resignation came after an attorney general investigation found Davidson filed fraudulent per diem charges with the House Comptroller’s Office, violated campaign finance reporting rules and attempted to obstruct the investigation by urging a witness to lie to investigators.
Davidson had said in a statement that she took legal responsibility for maintaining records and reimbursing inappropriate expenses and said she would reimburse $ 6,925 in full.
As a result, House Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-100 of Lancaster, made the special election for that seat coincide with the general election on November 2.
In the race, Democrat Curry faces Republican Taylor, who unsuccessfully ran as an independent for the two-year term last year.
Curry, 48, joined the Upper Darby School Board in 2016 after serving as a Girl Scout leader and member of her children’s home and school organizations. She is currently vice-chair of the board of directors.
She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in criminal justice with a concentration in sociology from Saint-Joseph University.
Curry is the owner and operator of the consultancy firm Coach Your Vision LLC, which provides training and coaching for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives with a focus on racial equity.
Taylor, 46, retired from the U.S. military in 2014 after serving for 14 years, including tours in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay. He also served in the recovery of the Pentagon after the September 11 attacks.
He had to leave the military after complications from an anthrax vaccine hit his heart. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and, with the help of his family, was able to recover.
This experience led him to found Taylor Made Vets, a nonprofit organization that supports veterans, their families and their communities. Once a week, they do outreach in the 69th Street terminal area, providing food and toiletries to those in need.
Candidates shared the issues they identified as critical in this campaign.
“The number one priority for me is making sure voters know that there will be an office that will have this continuity of care,” said Curry. “My biggest thing is the continuity of care for the five communities and sub-communities within.”
And, she added, “Because of my children, I have been a fierce fighter for everything for them and I also really have a heart for the other children in the community and families.”
Before the headquarters opened, Curry said she looked at the post and the district as a whole, having lived at Lansdowne and with her family in the community.
Among other things, she sees it as an opportunity to fight for two of the most underfunded school districts in this part of the state.
She also noted the great differences in the district, including the 70 to 80 dialects spoken in Upper Darby alone.
“Just understanding that there are different needs for this community based on different cultures and languages (is important),” Curry noted, noting that there is a wide range of socio-economic scales in the community. 164th, from people with serious needs to those who are lawyers and doctors. .
She also said the 164th had higher incidents of homelessness, substance abuse and poverty.
“I’m going to listen a lot – how they want to continue where they live and what they want to do differently,” said Curry, adding that she would go from knocking on doors now to an official listening tour after the election. .
“I want to have a mind meeting with the mayors,” she said. “I really want to focus on the homeless in our region. I want to work with (Delaware County Council Vice President) Dr Monica Taylor at the county and state level.
Additionally, she said business development in the 164th arrondissement was in critical need of an overhaul.
Taylor also has his priorities, from community reintegration and sex trafficking to citizen re-engagement.
As a state representative, he said his role was to “work for the community. This is something that I learned with awareness, you have to make a connection.
He said security and re-entry were also among his main elements.
“Everyone makes mistakes / but you don’t want that mistake to bother them for the rest of their life,” Taylor said. “In my opinion, the issue of crime for the citizen is resolved with the employment and availability of resources without the supremacist ideology and bureaucracy being involved in its distribution. “
One resource he highlighted was education.
“Education is the one thing that empowers everyone,” he said, adding that he wanted to promote financial literacy. “This is something that no one can take away from you.”
He also spoke of being part of an effort to save a child from a trafficker at 69th Street Transportation Center after noticing a young girl alone. “The event shook me deep inside,” he said. “As a father, I have been personally wronged.”
He spoke of the political divide.
“The growing political division in our country and the constant legislative deadlock is a direct result of too many of our politicians operating under the ‘Party First’ mindset,” Taylor said. “It seems the goal now is to score political points and put the other party in bad shape rather than approving funding and creating effective programs that help people and small businesses… That’s false and it causes a loss of confidence and confidence in our government and elected officials. One of the things I learned in the military is that real leadership requires courage, conviction and compassion.
He also mentioned the resignation of the previous representative of the State and his influence on this race.
“With all due respect for the good that was done during Margo’s leadership, I salute her and those who have helped her bring about positive change,” he said. “However, I will not respect or respect the actions alleged or asserted which led to Ms. Davidson’s resignation.
“I will allow empathy and stern action to hold the 164th District accountable against such stains on our public trust,” Taylor said.
Curry noted how Davidson’s absence resonated in the community.
“As a voter of hers for many years, the impact of her resignation has been very difficult for many voters,” she said.
Having previously worked alongside Davidson, Curry said, “We have worked very hard to serve this community.”
Noting that it’s not positive every time an elected official dies or has to step down, she said, “The way we take a situation and respond to it is the best way.”
The way she hopes to do it, Curry reiterated, is to “make people understand that there will be continuity of care and a smooth transition and give people hope.”
The 164th Legislative District includes parts of Upper Darby and East Lansdowne, Lansdowne, Millbourne and Yeadon.