An Interview with Congressional Candidate, Bryan Leib (PA-03)
Could you give readers a bit of context for your campaign, and briefly describe some of your key policies?
I would love to! I’m running for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District of PA. This district is a newly formed district after the PA Supreme Court ruling. PA-03 is a combination of the existing PA-01 and PA-02 districts. It covers Center City, West Philadelphia, the majority of South Philadelphia and North and Northwest Philadelphia. I’m focusing my campaign on what really matters to hard working Philadelphians; and that’s challenging the status quo and entrenched political corruption that has run rampant throughout Philadelphia for the last couple decades. Philadelphia leads the country in the highest poverty rate. That is unacceptable.
What are some of your key policies for your district, addressing the needs of PA-3 specifically?
I’m focusing my campaign on three main areas; 1) Jobs and Economy - Good jobs and employment opportunities must be available at good wages so our young people can stay in Philadelphia, work in Philadelphia, and raise their families here. I believe that good jobs means good communities. 2) Education - I believe that an educated and well trained nation is a very powerful nation. Not surprisingly, in the hands of Philadelphia politicians, our city’s public education system is a catastrophe. Run-down schools, horrific drop-out rates, unforgivable national and state rankings, and hard-to-believe budget woes are all a result of fraud, waste, and abuse from our city officials. 3) Corruption - Philadelphians are tired of their politicians lying to them and putting personal enrichment ahead of serving the public. I firmly believes that government should be in the business of enriching and supporting its people – not bureaucrats in Philadelphia and politicians in Washington, DC. It’s time to enact real reforms that put our communities’ best interests first and do away with abusing of the system by the people we elect to serve us. In Congress, I will write legislation calling for Term Limits.
As an outsider to Congress, what experience do you have working in politics?
That’s a great question. For the last decade, I have gained a lot of experience working in my community and with non profits all throughout the region. Through these experiences, I’ve learned how to be a leader, how to serve the community and how to work with multiple partners to propose solutions and solve problems. I’m a problem solver! In addition, I have first hand experience as a small business executive, I know what it takes to balance a budget, attract and retain talent and to keep customers happy and loyal.
Could you talk about some of your grievances with the policies of your opponent, incumbent Representative Dwight Evans?
First, let me say that I have respect for any elected official who has chosen a path of public service. Congressman Evans has chosen that path. However, I and a lot of people in Philadelphia can’t point to many specific things that he’s done to improve our community. Congressman Evans hails from West Philadelphia, he was a State Representative for over 30 years before running for Congress. Why hasn’t poverty gone down in West Philadelphia? Why are the roads falling apart in West Philadelphia? Why are there more people dependent on the federal government for subsidies then people working? The answer is status quo. Congressman Evans is part of the status quo and the same power structure in Philadelphia for the last 40 years.
Representative Evans is endorsed by JStreet. Do you have any thoughts on that?
I strongly oppose JStreet and their policies. My policies as a Jewish-American align more with Republican Jewish Coalition and AIPAC. Congressman Evans likes to talk and act like he’s a friend of Israel but the Jewish Community in Philadelphia has seen through that for years. Congressman Evans recently co-sponsored a bill that will never pass on the House Floor (which makes me wonder why he would cosponsor the bill in the first place) - H.R.4391, the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act.
Philadelphia’s Jewish Community is excited about my candidacy because they know that I will always stand up for our community and that my support for Israel can never be bought or sold - I proudly stand with the Jewish State of Israel, today, tomorrow and forever.
What particular pieces of legislation do you envision yourself sponsoring/supporting as a representative? Do you have any idea what committees you would like to be a part of ?
My first order of business will be to introduce in Congress will be to propose a bipartisan resolution to address the skilled labor crisis while helping to break the cycle of poverty by educating our students from low income areas in a different way. The Federal Pell Grant is a subsidy the U.S. Federal Government provides for students who need it to pay for college who need financial assistance. An immediate priority of Bryan’s is to sponsor legislation that adjusts the Higher Education Act of 1965 so that Pell Grants can apply to vocational schools and job training courses. I firmly believes that if we can train our students who won’t be attending college to learn how to become a tradesman or a computer coder at 18 years old, then they will learn a valuable trade and quickly be making $50,000 per year with benefits and no student loan debt. Strengthening our education system will result in the kind of sustained economic growth for our great city that will make our school system strong for generations to come. I would like to sit on Foreign Affairs Committee to strengthen our relationship with Israel and other countries like Saudi Arabia, France, China and India - and the Oversight and Government Reform committee to bring more transparency to federal government and to be in a position to work on my term limits bill.
I believe there was recently some rezoning of your district. Do you have any thoughts on that?
When the PA Supreme Court legislated from the bench, they created an opportunity for me to run for Congress and I’m thankful for this opportunity to challenge the status quo in Philadelphia and serve my city. However, I do believe that the PA Supreme Court overstepped their authority as Justices of the court. It’s a shame that Governor Tom Wolf couldn’t work with the PA Legislature to resolve this. I’m confident that Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Scott Wagner will have a great working relationship with the PA House and Senate.
Please tell us about your position towards Israel and the ongoing partnership between the US and Israel?
I’m not afraid to say that I’m a Zionist & I love the State of Israel with as much passion and gusto as I love Philadelphia and the United States of America. I believe that Jewish Americans have two very important roles to play in American society in 2018 and beyond; 1) As it relates to the Holocaust, we can never let the world forget the atrocities that occurred throughout Europe when the world sat on the sidelines as 6,000,000 Jews were murdered 2) We must always stand up for Israel, no matter the costs or risks involved. Israel is the Jewish Homeland, Israel is a Jewish State that welcomes people of all religions and backgrounds
The United States of America has few allies as strong and reliable as the State of Israel. Our nations share the mutual values of freedom, democracy, progress, and security. I strongly believe that Congress should stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the State of Israel. As a private citizen and in Congress, the State of Israel will have no greater friend than me, Bryan Leib. I will never apologize for, nor waver, in my support for Israel. I recently published my Pro-Israel Policy position on Times of Israel, it can be found here: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/america-israel-the-unbreakable-bond
Do you believe that you have a chance of winning in the general?
Yes. In a mid-term election, the path to victory needs to be clearly defined. We have defined this path and have begun bringing our campaign to these areas with solutions on how to fix our problems. At a young age, I learned how to work hard and work smart. I have brought my strong work ethic to this campaign and it’s resonating with hard working voters in Philadelphia.
Any last thoughts (or an elevator pitch) that you’d like to share with readers?
Thank you, Noah and to the Jewish Examiner for this opportunity to share my story with your audience. In short, I’m running for Congress at the age of 32 because I am frustrated with the status quo and believe that Philadelphia’s best days lie ahead of us. We aren’t going to break through to the next level with the current leadership structure that’s been in play for the last 30-50 years. Sadly, they have not been solving our problems. Congress needs problem solvers who aren’t afraid to reach across the aisle to create meaningful legislation that will help Philadelphia grow. Congressman Evans has shown time and time again that he is not interested in working with Republicans in Congress. However, I am interested in working with Democrats. Congress needs problem solvers that are approachable, accountable and accessible. That’s why I’m running for Congress - because I’m a problem solver who will work with and welcome anyone into my office if their number 1 priority is Philadelphia and not special interest groups. Thank you!
Learn more about Bryan’s campaign by visiting his website: bryanleib.com or following him on Twitter and Facebook: @LeibforPA or Instagram: @leibforcongress .