Some would say it’s easy for me to criticize State Representative Angel Cruz because he is an incumbent. He's been state rep. since 2000, and has defeated all challengers. I'm sure the career politician knows that criticisms come with the territory. So, let's begin.
1) Mr. Cruz is a co-sponsor of HB934: Legislation that in essence suppresses the vote. This legislation hearkens back to the pre-Civil Rights Movement that even state Republicans in Harrisburg crossed party lines denouncing this draconian law. Why support legislation that strips citizens’ right to vote? Well, in the 2010 primary for state rep. there were a total of about 12,000 votes shared between Mr. Cruz and challenger Jonathan Ramos. This was a very small turnout considering that more than 55,000 residents; 70 percent Democrats resided in the 180th District. In that primary Mr. Cruz won--by 124 votes. Mr. Ramos rightfully requested a recount--then shockingly, withdrew it. I guess that was too close for comfort for Mr. Cruz. In 2012 I guess the goal is to suppress the vote for the residents in the 180th District keep the primary close and the incumbent will win. Don't bet on it.
2) According to Russ Diamond, "Young Philly Politics", "after being pressed in 2005 over his admittance to never having read the PA State Constitution, Mr. Cruz closed the argument by declaring his true priority in Harrisburg - qualifying for full retirement benefits." Mr. Cruz has been in office for 12 years- it is time to send him off to collect his unearned pension.
3) In 2008, State Representative Angel Cruz introduced (H.B. 2185) "Syringe-Exchange Program Limitation Act" in the State Legislature that would ban needle exchange programs from operating within 500 feet of a residence or school.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, 34% of reported HIV infections are among intravenous drug users and their sexual partners. Needle exchange programs have the possibility of reducing infection rates drastically, and are a needed component of the fight against HIV and AIDS.
I believe increased police patrol around sites and participation by neighborhood associations would help to curtail these problems. We must focus on ways to curtail residents’ quality of life concerns, but we should not use a blanket approach from Harrisburg that will tie our hands with this important tool in our fight against HIV/AIDS.
4) Mr. Cruz also opposes the legislation that would make English the official language in Pennsylvania. Good. That is something we both agree on. Unfortunately, Representative Cruz has done very little to empower the Latino population in the 180th District. Further, there are other ethnic residents that he is supposed to represent: African American, Vietnamese, Korean, Italian and other ethnicities in the 180th District--but he doesn’t. A state representative is supposed to serve the “entire district.” As an elected official you don’t get to pick and choose what ethnicity you will and will not service. I don’t remember Mr. Cruz campaigning to represent some of the population. Is there little wonder why the voter turnout is so low in the 180th District?
Consequently, how do these pieces of legislation that State Rep. Cruz supports create jobs, reduce crime, repair the education system or create after school and senior citizen programs in the 180th District?
Anthony P. Johnson, Candidate for State Representative, 180th District, 2012