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DelVal Rep to Present Krasner Impeachment Case to Senate

State Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chester/Delaware) was among the representatives chosen to present the impeachment case against Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner to the state Senate.

Williams said he believes he was chosen because of his background as a prosecutor.

“I am a former assistant U.S. Attorney for Philadelphia and Denver,” said Williams. “The former chief prosecutor of the Marine Corp Reserves, former chief prosecutor of the largest and busiest Marine base.”

Rep. Tim Bonner (R-Mercer/Butler), another representative chosen as an impeachment manager, also has a prosecutorial background as an assistant district attorney.

Williams said though a trial date has not been set he is already preparing to present the seven articles of impeachment against Krasner to the Senate. Removal from office would require a two-thirds majority vote.

House Speaker Bryan Cutler also named Rep. Jared Solomon (D-Philadelphia) as the third impeachment manager.

“These members exemplify the competency and character required in this moment,” Cutler said. “Their credibility cannot be understated, and each of their diverse experiences and education will help ensure this process is treated with the utmost professionalism and thoroughness. This trial must be transparent and presented at the highest possible standard, something this committee is more than capable of doing.”

After an investigation, the House voted largely along party lines to impeach Krasner, finding that he has not fulfilled his duties as a prosecutor in the wake of rising crime in Philadelphia. The vote concluded a months-long investigation by a House Select Committee examining the city’s recent surge in violence and what role Krasner’s conduct may have played. The committee heard heartbreaking testimony from witnesses who accused Krasner of not seeking justice for crime victims, even as homicides, shootings, and carjackings soared.

Rep. Craig Williams Challenged by Cathy Spahr for 160th District

Incumbent state Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford) has made fighting crime and supporting veterans the centerpiece of his reelection bid. A former prosecutor and Marine veteran, Williams is being challenged by Democrat Cathy Spahr, a senior planner and infrastructure investment and Jobs Act lead for Delaware County.

Williams serves on the Veteran Affairs and Emergency Preparedness, Aging and Older Adult Services, and Human Services Committees. He is the founding co-chair of the House Cybersecurity Caucus, dedicated to helping both state government and the state’s private sector fend off the threats of hacking and ransomware.

Williams co-sponsored bills that would give the Pennsylvania National Guard the authority to provide functional support for cybersecurity needs across the state, both for state agencies and non-government groups who need help as well.

“As cybercrime continues growing, it’s critical that we find a proactive way to fight these criminals. The legislation taps into a resource right here in the Commonwealth: the Pennsylvania National Guard,” Williams said.

Williams also secured funding to hire more prosecutors for firearms offenders in Philadelphia and Delaware County and introduced legislation to include human traffickers on the state’s Sex Offender Registry.

Spahr declined to respond to repeated requests for comment. Her campaign website can be found here.

Asked whether he supports the effort to impeach Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner over his performance as prosecutor, Williams said he will reserve judgment until the Select Committee chaired by Rep. John Lawrence (R-West Grove) submits its report.

“It’s an investigatory committee and its role is to bring together the facts and make recommendations to the House for further action. And given my prosecutorial background, I’m going to wait to see what information the committee unearths,” he said.

“What I want to know are the reasons for the inability or lack of willingness to prosecute. What are the decisions that are being made inside the district attorney’s office? Why are people leaving the office? Why in particular, with prior felons in possession of guns, why are those conviction rates going down? Why are those prosecutions going down? And I’m hopeful the Select Committee will provide us with some answers,” Williams said.

Krasner has filed suit to block the committee’s subpoenas.

Williams told DVJournal he works hard and focuses on serving people.

“There is too much anger and hard feelings in politics today. I am running a campaign using decency in leadership, treating people well, and knowing how to lead.”

If re-elected Williams, a Concord Township resident, wants to focus on getting the economy back on track by creating a business-friendly environment in the state that “gets us on top of inflation and gets people back to work.” Pennsylvania also needs to take care of its own energy needs, he said.

“Number two for me, is meeting violent crime head-on with more prosecution,” said Williams. “So if my gun violence task force (bill) that’s sitting in the Senate doesn’t advance this year, I’m going to reintroduce it next year and work aggressively to get (it) established in Philadelphia. (This would) give prosecutorial decision-making to the feds, the attorney general, and the district attorney. So it requires all three branches to work together on every single gun arrest in Philadelphia and decide who’s going to prosecute it.

“And then, last but not least, I want to continue my work in human services, particularly around addiction and at-risk youth,” said Williams. “I’m going to be working very hard to get the Glen Mills School reopened (now called Clock Tower School) and get them out of the corrections model and into a trauma-informed therapy model.”

Williams is married to lawyer Jennifer Arbittier Williams and is the father of four children.

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As Military Struggles to Find Recruits, DelVal Pols Tout the Benefits of Service

David Galluch

When the colonists declared their independence from Great Britain 245 years ago, citizens rallied to form the first Continental Army led by Gen. George Washington.

Since then, many citizens have answered the call to serve in the military, and the benefits of that service can last a lifetime.

Today, however, the U.S. military is struggling to attract recruits. And the number of people in the key age demographic for enlistment who can meet minimum requirements is shrinking.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville told Congress in April only 23 percent of young people ages 17 to 24 are qualified to serve, down 29 percent in recent years. And NBC News reported only 9 percent of those eligible would even consider joining, the lowest number since 2007. All branches are struggling to meet their recruitment goals.

“We recognize that we are in a very challenging recruiting environment, in competition with our fellow services and the private sector for the top talent we need to serve as the next generation of Navy leaders and warfighters,” said Navy Cmdr. Dave Benham, director of public affairs for the Navy Recruiting Command.

The Navy’s goals for fiscal year 2022 recruits are 33,400 active enlisted service members, 7,400 reserve enlisted, 2,468 active officers, and 1,350 reserve officers, he said.

An Army spokesperson said, “This is the most challenging recruiting market in the last 20 years. In FY22, Army recruiters are facing a tight labor market, a decrease in the propensity of the American population to serve, and a shrinking pool of qualified military applicants.”

In a 2021 survey, the Army found 75 percent of today’s youth (16 to 28 years old) know little to nothing about the U.S. Army. Its Enterprise Marketing Office (AEMO) has two new creative campaigns running now to generate awareness among young people and to address the common misperceptions about the Army lifestyle, as well as motivate receptive prospects.

Both the Army and the Navy are offering incentives to join.

But beyond the immediate satisfaction of meeting a challenge and serving one’s country, the benefits of joining the military can last a lifetime.

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan

“I grew up in a military family, moving nearly a dozen times before I graduated high school,” said Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks), a third-generation veteran who served in the Air Force. “But when I was old enough, I decided to raise my right hand, too—in large part because my father and grandfather both instilled in me the value of serving our country in uniform.

“There’s a saying in my family to be of our’ highest, best use’ whatever that may hold. I know there are many young students and Americans out there wondering what their highest, best use is right now, and I hope they’ll consider a career in the military. It provided me the discipline, work ethic, and degree (thanks to ROTC) to pursue careers in business and non-profits after I separated from the service.

“Now, as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I’m working incredibly hard to make sure our service members and their families are taken care of,” said Houlahan. “In fact, I’ve led efforts to improve pregnancy care for our servicewomen, provide paid family leave for all in uniform, increase pay, and more. To anyone out there considering serving in uniform, please know we will be stronger as a nation and a world should you choose to be part of the greatest military in history.”

State Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford) went to Duke University on a Navy ROTC scholarship, then joined the Marines. Both his father and stepfather flew Cessna O-1 Birddogs as forward air controllers during the Vietnam War, so he grew up “steeped” in the lore of the military and living on Air Force bases.

He joined the military because “it was a family tradition of service to our country,” he told Delaware Valley Journal.

During Operation Desert Storm, Williams also flew 56 missions piloting F-18s (the same plane featured in the movie “Top Gun Maverick”) and “did the exact same mission, forward air controller, as my dads did in Vietnam. Williams was “racing around the desert at 200-feet marking targets for bombers up at altitude.”

Rep. Craig Williams

After the war, he became a flight instructor at Pensacola, went to law school under a military program, and became a judge advocate general (JAG). Williams served as head prosecutor at Camp Pendleton and deputy legal counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the War on Terror. He was the head prosecutor for the Marine Corps Reserves.

Williams, who was decorated for valor, retired from the military as a colonel in 2015 after 28 years of service. He served as a prosecutor in Denver and then came to Philadelphia to join his wife, Jennifer Williams, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney.

“I never see it as helping me,” he said. “I see it as duty to country.” But he adds the things he learned have helped with his career path and “helped form who I am, this person steeped in service and duty to something bigger than oneself and I try to teach that to my children.”

“I think all these things are very sweet,” he said. “The 4th of July, Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, for people who have been in combat, are particularly significant events.”

“I’ve lost friends in the service. I’ve lost my best friend,” he said. “It’s hard for people who haven’t served to understand.”

Sometimes hearing the National Anthem brings a tear to his eye.

“We recognize on Memorial Day people who have given their lives for us. The 4th of July is the same,” he said.

Dave Galluch, a Republican running for Congress for the 5th District in Delaware County, also has a family history of serving in the armed forces. Galluch attended the Naval Academy. He was later selected for Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal, a special operations job. He served in the Middle East and Somalia, where he was assigned to Seal Team Four.

“My family has a long history of military service,” Galluch said. “I’ve had relatives fight in every war in our nation’s history. They sacrificed for the things that are supposed to unite us all — the things that represent the best of who we are. I felt a weight to carry on their legacy and do my duty to my family and country.

“In the military, I saw the best our country has to offer and what we are capable of achieving when we realize we are stronger together,” said Galluch. “I learned how to lead, how to make tough decisions, and how to subordinate my own concerns to those of the men and women I was serving alongside.

Rep. Tracy Pennycuick

“I don’t care what else I do or accomplish in my life. Leading our nation’s special operators in harm’s way will always be what I’m most proud of. My experiences in the military are central to who I am, how I view this nation, and what leadership is all about to me,” said Galluch.

Rep. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Gilbertsville) said, “I initially joined the military as an enlisted medic as a way to pay for college. I found that I loved the structure and discipline of the military, and ended up going back to college and earning my degree. I spent 26 years in the U.S. Army, and my military service taught me so many life lessons—never give up, never ask your soldiers to do anything you wouldn’t do, always take care of your soldiers first, mentor and guide your soldiers to achieve their goals….are just a few. The military set me up for success as it gave me the groundwork to be a leader.”

Pennycuick is running for the 24th District state Senate seat now held by Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Bucks/Montgomery/Berks), who is retiring.

 

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Williams, Kane to Present Check for New Upper Chichester Library

From a press release

 

Rep. Craig Williams (R-Delaware and Chester) and Sen. John Kane (D-Delaware and Chester) presented a ceremonial check Tuesday representing a $2 million state grant secured through their support for the construction of a new Upper Chichester Library.

The funds come from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP).

“Obtaining funding for a new library has been one of the most important objectives during my first term in office,” Williams said.  “Through tenacity, the library team in Upper Chichester has been serving, mainly, the children of our community from a two-room storefront in a small shopping center.  This new funding will help them build a much-needed, state-of-the-art library.  I want to thank the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program for awarding this very worthy project.”

 

 

The RCAP funds are dedicated to building the library’s new structure which will make the facility ADA compliant, add safe open spaces for all, community rooms for local organizations to use, and new technology to advance literacy and learning, and accommodate more computers.

In addition, the new one-story library building will contain three study rooms, a historical/archive room, a book sale room, children’s area, coffee shop and outdoor patio.

“Families of Upper Chichester deserve a library where their children can learn and grow. I am so thankful for the local businesses and private donors that have helped the Upper Chichester Library get to this point, and we will need them further to match this state funding before it may be used. I look forward to seeing this project become a reality after so much work by devoted community friends,” Williams said.

Rep. Craig Williams Campaigns With Senate Candidate Dave McCormick

Republican state Rep. Craig Williams teamed up with U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick to knock on doors Saturday in the Garnet Valley neighborhood of Chadds Ford.

Williams said he enjoys meeting his constituents in person and typically knocks on more than 2,000 doors during his campaigns.

“My favorite part (of campaigning) is knocking on doors,” said Williams.

McCormick also enjoys talking to potential voters and has made in-person campaigning, whether knocking on doors or pressing the flesh in diners and American Legion halls, a trademark of his campaign.

Rep. Williams and Dave McCormick, along with volunteers pose with a Harley Davidson motorcycle. A TV commercial shows McCormick riding his Harley Davidson Fat Boy. And when the weather is nice, he often rides it around Pittsburgh.

“I love it, I mean, I love it,” said McCormick. “If you knock on 10 doors and talk to one or two people, you get the connection.”

McCormick likes to hear voters’ opinions, telling him what they like or hate.

“It’s perfect,” he said. “I love it. I love being with (Williams). He’s a great guy. This is a great part of Pennsylvania that I need to spend more time in. I’m really devoted to spending time here in the southeast. It makes sure my message is out there.”

And it was a family affair, with McCormick’s wife, Dina Powell McCormick, who was a deputy national security advisor to former President Donald Trump, accompanying him and Williams’ 12-year-old son, Cole, also along, as well as campaign volunteers and staff.

McCormick, who is vying for the lead in the Republican Senate primary race with television celebrity Dr. Mehmet Oz and commentator Kathy Barnette, also has ads blanketing television screens, either from his campaign or a Super PAC that supports him. A former hedge fund CEO, he comes across as a down-to-earth, regular guy.

“I hope to get your vote,” he says to homeowners after a brief exchange and introduction from Williams, who has an app that tells him which houses belong to registered Republicans. Only Republicans or Democrats can vote for their respective candidates in the May 17 primary.

“We’re still really undecided,” homeowner George Kent, told the Delaware Valley Journal after shaking hands with Williams and McCormick and listening to their pitches.

Dina Powell McCormick, Cole Williams, Rep. Craig Williams and Dave McCormick.

His wife, Debbi Kent, said, “He keeps saying, ‘the stakes are high,’ and we agree. We want the best person in the Senate, and I was very unhappy (with Sen. Pat Toomey). I want to learn more.”

She was “surprised but appreciative” that McCormick came to her door. “That shows he’s serious and wants to meet the people.”

Another resident, Joe Dailey, said that he was from Bloomsburg but did not know McCormick, who went to high school there when his dad was president of Bloomsburg University and chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.  The family also owns a Christmas tree farm nearby that has been featured in McCormick’s TV commercials.

McCormick, 56, graduated from West Point, where he was on the wrestling team and served in the first Gulf War with the 82nd Airborne. He also served in several positions in the George W. Bush administration, including as Under Secretary of the Treasury, and he holds a Ph.D. in international relations from Princeton. In the private sector, McCormick was CEO of a software company in Pittsburgh and most recently held the CEO post at Bridgewater Associates.

During a talk at a VFW Post in Bensalem, McCormick said the Biden administration’s botched handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal led to his decision to run for the Senate.

“I’ve seen his ads,” said Dailey. “I’m a big fan of his. I like what he has to say. And Craig (Williams) is the best guy we’ve ever had here. Good luck to you guys. I will vote for you.”

Williams (R-Chadds Ford) also served in the military. He spent three decades in the Marines, retiring as a colonel.  The two candidates bantered about which of their rival branches of the service was best as they walked the neighborhood.

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DelVal Rep. Williams Calls Out Shapiro over Philly Gun Violence, Wants More State Action on Crime

Delaware County state Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford) says Attorney General Josh Shapiro has been a no-show in the fight against Philadelphia’s surging violent crime, and he says that needs to change.

“Attorney General Josh Shapiro has routinely blamed the General Assembly for violence in Philadelphia,” Williams said during a press conference outside the Attorney General’s Office. “Yet when given authority to prosecute gun crime in Philadelphia, he said expressly he would not use it. We intend to give him another chance to pitch into the fight.”

In 2021, Philadelphia recorded 562 homicides and 2,332 shootings. The highest previous year was 500 homicides in 1990. And the murder rate in 2022 is already on pace to eclipse last year’s record high. Additionally, gunpoint carjackings have nearly tripled since 2019, with more than 100 already in 2022. Even a congresswoman was a carjacking victim.

Hoping to make a dent in gun crimes, Williams joined with state Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) to extend a two-year pilot program giving Shapiro jurisdiction to enforce gun crime laws. In 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a law (Act 58) giving the attorney general the authority to investigate and charge certain gun crimes in Philadelphia.

White said during a Tuesday press conference outside the Attorney General’s Office, unfortunately, Shapiro has yet to use the law a single time to get a criminal off Pennsylvania streets.

“Even though the murder rate in Philadelphia rose to record levels, Attorney General Josh Shapiro refused to use this new tool to help us fight crime in Philadelphia,” White said. “Nonetheless, we’re extending the law to give Shapiro a second chance to do what is right as gun crime continues to rise. It’s clear the state must step in to protect the people of Philadelphia from their irresponsible district attorney, Larry Krasner, and that person is the attorney general of Pennsylvania.”

Republicans argue Shapiro needs to step up because of District Attorney Larry Krasner’s extreme progressive policies.

“Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner is an ineffective prosecutor, who has refused to fully prosecute many offenses,” White said. “What is of grave concern though, is his refusal to prosecute our state’s most serious crimes, which he has left a trail of murder victims and devastated communities. Our brave law enforcement officers are out there every day doing absolutely everything that they can to arrest these criminals and protect our communities.

“As state officials, we have a responsibility to oversee public safety in our cities and counties. When local officials refuse to act, we must,” she said.

Williams, a former federal prosecutor, said $1.5 million in funding he secured to hire more gun prosecutors in Philadelphia and Delaware Counties, has now come online. The money will flow to the Project Safe Neighborhoods program, which deputizes those local prosecutors as federal prosecutors, who will bring the weight of federal statutes on felons who are not permitted to have a gun. Federal sentences are longer and there is no probation, he noted.

Shapiro rejected the proposal as mere partisanship.

“We appreciate the trust our office has earned from the General Assembly for expanding our fight against gun violence to keep Pennsylvanians safe,” said Shapiro, in a statement. “This proposal is a fake solution to a very real problem in Philadelphia, put forth with no input from our office. There are meaningful steps to be taken – but everyone needs to be serious and get to work.”

“The General Assembly should stop passing the buck and act. Close the ghost gun loophole that is fueling violence and putting guns in the hands of criminals. Pass mandatory bail reform for gun crimes so these criminals aren’t back out on our streets the very next day. And help cities fill hundreds of police officer vacancies and expand services. These steps would actually help reduce violence – not this finger-pointing.”

In the meantime, the Gun Violence Task Force, with cross-designated prosecutors, has prosecuted four cases in 2019, 24 in 2020, and 38 in 2021, the Attorney General’s Office said.  There were 571 ghost guns recovered in Philadelphia in 2021, up 128 percent from 2020 and up 489 percent from 2019. Ghost guns are weapons that are homemade and untraceable. Nearly 10 percent of firearms found by the Philadelphia Police Department are ghost guns.

Shapiro noted he has Strategic Response teams in place, working with the Philadelphia police,  in West Philadelphia and Kensington.

Krasner spokeswoman Jane Roh did not respond to Delaware Valley Journal’s request for comment. However, she told PennLive that White and Williams’ news conference was a “comically timed stunt” held on the same day the Republican majority in the state Senate was scheduled to vote on a bill to block Philadelphia and other local governments from “enacting life-saving gun restrictions because these same lawmakers will not.”

However, White and Williams said they are giving the attorney general another chance to buy into Act 58 in the wake of the record number of homicides in the city.

“So, we’re putting the ball on a tee for him again,” said Williams.

“When there is no cooperation, people lose their lives,” White said. “That’s why we must extend this law and demand Attorney General Josh Shapiro prosecute the law the way District Attorney Larry Krasner will not. Lives depend on it.”

Meanwhile, Delaware County DA Jack Stollsteimer is cooperating with state officials.

He “welcomes any and every resource to stop gun violence in Delaware County. Our office was only notified that grant funding for this program was available in the last week; we have however, immediately taken steps to seek County Council’s approval to accept the grant at its first meeting in February. It’s important to note that while adding several federal prosecutors to the US Attorney’s Office to handle gun cases will no doubt affect the problem of gun violence in our region, it is no panacea.  For example, (the DA) has already instituted, without federal resources, a focused deterrence strategy in the City of Chester that has led to a 44 percent reduction in incidents of gun violence during 2021,” said Maggie McAboy, a spokeswoman.

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Rep. Williams Secures Funding for Gun Crimes Prosecutors

In an effort to deal with the epidemic of gun violence in Philadelphia that has spilled over into Delaware County, state Rep. Craig Williams sought and obtained state funding to hire additional prosecutors for those jurisdictions.

Williams (R-Chadds Ford) recently announced that $1.5 million would be set aside in the new state budget to hire additional prosecutors for the district attorney’s offices in Delaware and Philadelphia Counties.

The new prosecutors would be assigned as special assistant United States attorneys (SAUSAs), who work directly with the U.S. Department of Justice and United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and they would be solely focused on prosecuting gun crimes in Philadelphia through Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).

PSN was established by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2001 to improve neighborhood safety through a sustained reduction in violent crime. Supporters say prosecution of gun crimes through the federal program has proven to be an effective tool decreasing gun crimes in PSN cities by 10.5 percent since its implementation.

“I have served as an assistant United States attorney in both the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the District of Colorado, where I prosecuted PSN cases in both jurisdictions,” Williams said in a statement.

Williams also sent letters to both Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, informing them of the extra money in the budget.

In terms of violent gun crime, there have been 1,504 nonfatal and 380 fatal shootings in Philadelphia this year alone. The only day someone wasn’t shot in Philadelphia this year was January 2. There have been 443 homicides in total this year, which is a 14 percent increase over this time last year. Arrest percentages for homicides and nonfatal shootings are up too, by 2 percent and 34 percent respectively.

For those who are arrested, prosecutions are up by 16 percent for homicides and 43 percent for nonfatal shootings. When it comes to case outcomes, however, that’s when things start to take a turn for the worse. Sixty-four percent more cases were withdrawn before they even went to trial or were dismissed . Acquittals are down by 12 percent, and guilty pleas and verdicts are both down too, by 11 percent and 24 percent respectively.

Williams hopes that by hiring more prosecutors, more cases will be able to go to trial, and more guilty pleas and verdicts will follow.

“Many people do not know that it is already a federal crime for a prior-convicted felon to possess a firearm or ammunition. Federal prosecution of prior-convicted felons in possession of firearms is an extremely effective tool in fighting gun violence,” Williams said.

This year, there has been a 27 percent increase in arrests for illegal firearm possession, and a 31 percent increase in illegal firearms cases charged. Like violent gun crimes cases, illegal firearms possession arrests haven’t resulted in corresponding convictions. Some 40 percent of those cases were withdrawn or dismissed, and guilty pleas and verdicts were down 26 percent and 33 percent respectively.

“It is my sincerest hope that the district attorneys will seize this moment of collaboration,” said Williams. “At a time when Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw announces that Philadelphia will receive federal assistance from the Department of Justice through the Public Safety Partnership program, when District Attorney Krasner is asking Philadelphia City Council for more funding for police and prosecutors for a backlog of cases, and when all federal agencies in Philadelphia have announced their ‘All Hands on Deck’ initiative to combat violent crime in the city, I hope this funding will be viewed and used as an added tool and partnership in getting violent criminals off our streets and making our communities safer.”