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Democrat Jim Prokopiak Wins Special Election in Lower Bucks County

Democrat Jim Prokopiak won handily over Republican Candace Cabanas in the special election for the 140th District in Lower Bucks County.

The election was called to replace former state Rep. John Galloway. Voters elected Galloway, a Democrat, to be a magistrate judge in November.

The weather may have played a role in voter turnout. Voters awoke to a winter snowstorm that dropped three inches during the morning. The snow stopped around 11 a.m. and the plows cleared the streets quickly but turnout was light at 23 percent. The 140th District includes Morrisville Borough, Tullytown Borough, Falls Township, and part of Middletown Township.

Unofficial results with 100 percent of precincts reporting showed Prokopiak at 67 percent and Cabanas at 23 percent. The district leans Democrat.

Prokopiak, a Pennsbury School Board member and former Falls Township supervisor, is a lawyer. Cabanas has worked in the hospitality industry and in healthcare.

Galloway’s resignation tied the House at 101-101. But with the resignation of Republican Rep. Joe Adams, who represented Adams and Pike Counties, on Friday, Democrats have a 101 to 100 majority. House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) scheduled a special election for that seat on April 23, the same day as the primary.

Prokopiak was a Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Spotlight Candidate, a designation that came with a $50,000 donation to the state House Democratic Caucus. He also received endorsements from abortion rights and environmental groups. Also, Eric Holder, who served as former President Obama’s Attorney General and is now involved in an organization that pushes for redistricting, endorsed Prokopiak.

Cabanas thanked the voters “for coming out in snowy conditions and biting cold winds to vote. My deepest thanks to those who entrusted me with your votes.” She also congratulated Prokopiak and wished him well.

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Lower Bucks County Voters Picking New State Legislator Tuesday

Two candidates are vying on Tuesday to represent the 140th District in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives. Democrat Jim Prokopiak and Republican Candace Cabanas are squaring off in a special election triggered by the resignation of John Galloway, a longtime Democratic representative who voters elected as a magistrate judge last November.

Galloway’s resignation tied the House at 101-101. But with the resignation of Republican Rep. Joe Adams, who represented Adams and Pike Counties, on Friday, Democrats have a 101 to 100 majority. House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) scheduled a special election for that seat on April 23, the same day as the primary.

The Republican and Democratic Bucks County committees then met and voted on their endorsed candidates. Whoever is selected must run again in the April 23 primary and in November to hold on to the seat.

Prokopiak is currently serving on the Pennsbury School Board. A former Falls Township supervisor, he is a lawyer.

Jim Prokopiak

“I’m running because for too many people that live in Lower Bucks County, the American Dream seems to get farther and farther away,” said Prokopiak. “You know, the cost of putting a roof over their head, paying their bills, taking care of their children’s education while trying to save for retirement and have health care. It’s a heavy burden and I think we need to do better, and I think we need to start in Harrisburg with that.”

Prokopiak is married with three children.

Cabanas, who has worked in health care and the hospitality industry, said, “I’m running because I understand firsthand the challenges faced by working families,” said Cabanas. “I know how difficult it is to raise a family and make ends meet in this economy, and I know how important it is to fight for the working-class citizens of Lower Bucks County. That’s exactly what I’ll do as your next state representative.

“In Harrisburg, I will be a vocal supporter of our police, firefighters, and first responders. Their daily sacrifices to keep our families safe are invaluable, and they deserve unwavering support and recognition for their heroic efforts.

“Drawing from my experience in home healthcare, I understand the burdens of rising healthcare costs on families. My goal is to fight for policies that make quality healthcare accessible and affordable for every Pennsylvanian,” she said.

Cabanas is also married with three children.

The race has drawn the interest of national and statewide groups. Prokopiak has garnered endorsements from abortion rights and environmental groups and Eric Holder, the former attorney general under President Barack Obama, who is now involved in nationwide redistricting efforts. Prokopiak is a Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Spotlight Candidate, a designation that came with a $50,000 donation to the state House Democratic Caucus.

Cabanas was endorsed by the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, which donated $2,500 to her campaign.

While the Democrats hold a registration edge in the district, both parties hope to get their voters out in the face of a predicted winter storm. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. The 140th District includes Morrisville Borough, Tullytown Borough, Falls Township, and part of Middletown Township.

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Pennsbury Considers Banning Public Commentators From Using Audio, Video

The Pennsbury School District, which settled a federal First Amendment case in 2022 for $300,000 over violating residents’ rights, is again looking to change its policy regarding speakers.

The policy change, considered by the school board’s policy committee on Thursday, precludes speakers from playing an audio or video during their time at the podium. The committee agreed to discuss the policy change again at its next meeting in March.

The comment policy in place now (903) was approved by Judge Gene E. K. Pratter and was written by a lawyer for the district’s insurer. As part of the settlement, Pennsbury was required to pay the $300,000 for the plaintiff’s attorney fees and a symbolic $17.91 (the year the first Amendment was ratified was 1791) to each plaintiff.

Two residents who were plaintiffs in the First Amendment case came to the policy committee meeting to express their dismay about the proposed change and to warn the board members they might once again be facing a federal judge.

Robert Abrams, a resident, said, “The insurance company paid for the policy to be rewritten. This is free speech. You are telling people what they can say, how they can say it, and what they can use to put their point across. Clearly, you’re heading back to federal court.”

Abrams added, “The insurance company has already told you they will not defend you if it happens again. And the public here has to start with making you people personally liable. Because it’s ridiculous that the taxpayer keeps paying and paying and paying here for your stupidity.”

Parent Tim Daly, who was also a plaintiff, questioned whether the change would violate a disabled person’s rights under the Americans with Disability Act, perhaps someone who cannot speak in public.

School Board Member Jim Prokopiak said, “I don’t have any problem with them playing something that is part of the official board record.” But Prokopiak did object to speakers ceding their time to people who are not in the room by playing a recording.

“People can come in and say whatever they want at meetings, but I don’t think they can come in and say, ‘Well, this third party.’ Under our policy, they’re supposed to sign in…in terms of an ADA situation like that, someone doesn’t have to speak, and they want to record their comments at home and bring it in; it’s still their comments… That’s a reasonable thing,” said Prokopiak.

Prokopiak, a Democrat, is running against Falls Township residence Candace Cabanas in the special election Tuesday for state representative in the 140th District.

Commmitte Chair Dr. Joanne Delwiche said, “We have had people who played recordings of people not in the room. It’s not a wholly hypothetical situation…There is also a concern brought up that it’s potentially a copyright violation because you’re playing the property of other individuals. And then we would be inadvertently broadcasting somebody else’s owned copyrighted material.”

District Solicitor Erin Aronson said ceding one’s time remains in the policy.

“I view this (change) as a clarification of what the ceding of time is. It really just clarifies when you’re ceding your time. Also if you go up and you say you’re going to play the recording of another person. I do that, personally, as a manner of ceding time,” she said.

“In terms of the disability piece of it, it’s an interesting point. We obviously don’t want to discriminate against anyone. You know, cause them not to participate in public comment because of their disability.”

“But the ceding of time provisions, ones I’ve seen in policies since the last decision. This would survive that judicial scrutiny. If Mr. Prokopiak has questions about the wording, you are entitled to enact reasonable time, place, and manner provisions on speech.” And if allowed, a “non-stakeholder” could displace a Pennsbury student or parent who wanted to talk,” Aronson said.

Delwiche said, “The appealing thing about we don’t allow audio or video… It’s unambiguous. It’s not subjective. You’re not making a decision on the fly.”

And no copyrights would be violated. As for the ADA accommodations, “I don’t know how you write that in,” she said.

Lawyer Chadwick Schnee told DVJounral, “In order for a government agency to impose restrictions on speech during public meetings, such a restriction has to be a ‘reasonable time, place and manner’ restriction. The key element here is that there appears to be no justifiable reason for not allowing the public to play audio or video during the time for public comments. If there’s no reason for imposing such a restriction, I don’t see how it would be ‘reasonable’ for purposes of the First Amendment.

“I am also concerned that this restriction may be being considered as a reaction to speech from one particular member of the Pennsbury School District community, who, by playing audio or video footage, may have expressed points of view that the school board dislikes. The district cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination, and I am very concerned that the board may be setting itself up to face another First Amendment lawsuit if it decides to implement such a policy.”

Asked about the copyright issue, Schnee said, “I believe this would constitute fair use, especially where, here, the comments are not being used for any kind of financial gain, either by the speaker or by the district.”

Afterward, Daly said, “The actions of the politically driven school board members come as no surprise. Politics come before the kids. Any change to Policy 903 that allows an opinionated interpretation of the public comment element is a violation of federal law per the previous injunction ruling. Attempting to expand the ‘ceding time’ clause is simply a cover strategy to chill speech that they don’t agree with. And suggesting legal issues arising from a copyright claim is laughable on every level, as such legal issues are frankly non-existent. They just want to censor their constituents who have a different opinion.”

 

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PA Manufacturers’ Association Endorses Republican Cabanas in House 140 Race

Candace Cabanas, the Republican running in the special election for the 140th House District, has received the Pennsylvania Manufacturer Association’s (PMA) endorsement.

The trade association represents more than a half million employees on “our shop floors and millions of additional jobs throughout our supply chain and distribution networks,” said Executive Director Carl Marrara. Statewide, it represents the $101.95 billion manufacturing sector in public policy.

At a Wednesday press conference, Marrara said his organization favors pro-growth economic policies that “reduce the baseline costs of creating and keeping jobs in our commonwealth.”

“Job creators in the 140th District need reliable and affordable access to energy, sensible and predictable taxation, and a prepared and available workforce to be competitive, to drive down inflationary forces, and to attract new business investment to our commonwealth.”

The Democrat-controlled House “has failed to govern on these important issues,” said Marrara.

The state’s growth is stagnant, and many studies and reports rank Pennsylvania near the bottom when it comes to taxation and regulation. But its location is desirable, the workforce has a “can-do attitude,” there are many educational institutions, and “an abundance of natural resources.”

Cabanas will focus on pro-growth policies, he said.

“She’ll be the friend job creators in this district need,” he said.

Cabanas said she would also be the listening ear in Harrisburg that residents need. She pointed to all the problems facing the U.S. under President Joe Biden, including inflation, the border crisis, and homelessness.

“Even Gov. (Josh) Shapiro has recognized businesses are struggling to stay in Pennsylvania under a tax program that’s not competitive with neighboring states,” Cabanas said. “This, in turn, creates an out-migration of businesses and working-age residents that is impacting our struggling communities.”

“To add to that struggle, Pennsbury School Board directors decided we need a new school,” said Cabanas, a mother who has worked in health care and the restaurant industry. “And they’re passing that burden off to the taxpayers here. We now have a 4.1 percent tax increase.

“I want our education assets being used to the greatest advantage of our students,” she added. She wants to see better coordination between the school district, workforce training, and technical schools. She also favors school choice.

“We have to get creative,” she said. “We have to have a better budget. No one bails the average citizen out. And I want to speak up for that citizen who is struggling to keep their gas tank full and to keep meals on the table for their family.”

PMA donated $2,500 to Cabanas’ campaign, said Marrara, who noted the Lower Bucks County area was founded on manufacturing. A Google search showed at least 35 manufacturers in Falls Township alone.

PMA endorses around a dozen candidates in each election cycle, he said.

Jim Thompson, a retired union carpenter who has lived in Falls Township for 70 years, was at Puss N Boots in Fairless Hills to support Cabanas.

“I hate politics,” said Thompson. “But I’m not happy with what’s going on. I blame Doylestown (county government). Maybe the corruption has always been there, but to me, it’s stinking.”

State Reps. Kristin Marcell (R-Richboro) and Joe Hogan (R-Feasterville) came out to support Cabanas as well.

The race for the 140th, which includes Falls Township and part of Middletown Township, is being widely watched because the House is now tied 101-101. A vacancy arose when former Rep. John Galloway (D-Levittown) was elected as a district justice in November.

Democrat Jim Prokopiak, a lawyer, Pennsbury school board member, and former Falls Township supervisor, is Cabanas’ opponent in the Feb. 13 special election. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee named Prokopiak its first “spotlight candidate of 2024” and donated $50,000 to the House Democratic Caucus. A chunk of that money will likely bolster Prokopiak’s campaign.

Although the district leans Democrat, Cabanas said she’s been working hard to convince voters to vote for her and knocking on doors to meet people. She said many Democrats and independents she has talked to are fed up with Biden’s policies and are ready to vote Republican.

Cabanas said, “I ask that you trust me to speak up for those residents’ concerns down here and work hard to find the right solution. I pledge to do everything in my power to represent our working-class values and make middle-class priorities front and center as I represent the community in Harrisburg.”

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GOP Candidate Not Notified About Polling Changes in Special Election

The Bucks County Election Board, chaired by Commissioner Bob Harvie (D), voted on Jan. 25 to change six polling places for the Feb. 13 special election for the 140th state House seat.

However, Bucks County authorities did not inform candidates of the changes, said Republican candidate Candace Cabanas.

“The county commissioners changed several Middletown poll locations on Jan. 25, 2024. We are having to scramble to contact Middletown residents. I only found out about it (Sunday) through a volunteer who was contacted by a resident,” Cabanas told DVJournal.

A spokesperson for Democrat James Prokopiak did not respond to requests for comment.

Civil rights advocates sometimes view last-second changes to polling locations or election policies as a form of voter suppression.

“Anything that disrupts voter habits will diminish turnout,” Donald P. Green, a professor of political science at Columbia University, told The New York Times. “Changes about location and day and format all have a disruptive effect.”

During the election board meeting, Harvie said some polling sites were moved back to their original locations in Neshaminy School District schools after the county promised the district additional security. Harvie did not specify the reasons for the other changes. And county spokesman James O’Malley did not respond when asked why the campaigns were not notified about the changes.

The special election will tip the balance of the state House, which is now tied at 101 Democrats to 101 Republicans. It was called because John Galloway, the former longtime state representative, was elected to a district justice seat and stepped down.

Prokopiak, a lawyer, is a Pennsbury School Board member and former Falls Township supervisor.

“I’m running because for too many people who live in Lower Bucks County, the American Dream seems to get farther and farther away,” he said. “You know, the cost of putting a roof over their head, paying their bills, taking care of their children’s education while trying to save for retirement and have health care. It’s a heavy burden and I think we need to do better, and I think we need to start in Harrisburg with that.”

Cabanas, a first-time candidate, is a Falls Township native who has worked in health care and the restaurant industry.

“I’m running because I understand firsthand the challenges faced by working families,” said Cabanas. “I know how difficult it is to raise a family and make ends meet in this economy, and I know how important it is to fight for the working-class citizens of Lower Bucks County. That’s exactly what I’ll do as your next state representative.

“In Harrisburg, I will be a vocal supporter of our police, firefighters, and first responders,” she said. “Their daily sacrifices to keep our families safe are invaluable, and they deserve unwavering support and recognition for their heroic efforts.”

She told DVJournal in a podcast that she is a working-class person. Prokopiak has also been invited to be a DVJ podcast guest.

Although the district leans Democratic, the key to winning will be turnout.

Just weeks before the special election, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee sent $50,000 to the House Democratic Caucus. The DLCC also named Prokopiak its first “spotlight candidate” for 2024.

The special election will be held Feb. 13.

 

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Bucks County Democrats Tap Jim Prokopiak for Race to Replace Galloway

The Feb. 13 special election to replace former Rep. John Galloway is now teed up. The Bucks County Democrats selected Jim Prokopiak as their candidate.

Prokopiak will square off against Republican Candace Cabanas.

“We are excited to announce that Jim Prokopiak will be the Democratic nominee for the Special Election in HD-140. Jim is a former Falls Township supervisor and current Pennsbury School Board member who has been a champion of Lower Bucks County his entire career,” the Bucks Democrats said on X (formerly Twitter).

“I’m running because for too many people that live in Lower Bucks County, the American Dream seems to get farther and farther away,” said Prokopiak. “You know, the cost of putting a roof over their head, paying their bills, taking care of their children’s education while trying to save for retirement and have health care. It’s a heavy burden and I think we need to do better, and I think we need to start in Harrisburg with that.”

Prokopiak is a lawyer, who is a solo practitioner. He also works with Jacobs Engineering with site acquisition for leasing and zoning for telecommunications companies. He’s a graduate of West Chester University and Temple University Beasley School of Law.

Prokopiak has been a member of the Pennsbury School Board for the last two-and-a-half years. Before that he served as a supervisor in Falls Township.

Propokiak and his wife, Gail, have three children in the Pennsbury School District, a 16-year-old son, and 14-year-old twin daughters. He’s lived in Levittown for 30 years.

Propokiak hopes to work on education issues if he’s elected to the House.

Propokiak cited a decision by a Commonwealth Court judge that said the state is not funding its public schools unconstitutional.

“The Pennsylvania Constitution requires that we fund public education,” said Propokiak. “And I think over the years, we’ve gotten away from that and we have to look at changing the way we fund public education, in terms of the way we distribute money and that type of stuff. And that’s the Commonwealth Court’s decision that has said that we’re not, Pennsylvania has not constitutionally funded its mandate.”

Propokiak is also interested in helping workers get the right education.

“One of the reasons I’m so pro-education and for lifelong education is…when we create a skilled workforce, it’s easier to attract quality jobs to our community. And certainly, Labor and Industry would be one committee I’d be interested in,” said Propokiak said. “Because good paying jobs in the community create opportunities for people, not just to pay their bills but to have affordable healthcare and a path to retirement. And those are the jobs we’re looking for.”

The 140th District, which includes Falls Township, part of Middletown Township, Morrisville and Tullytown.

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