HARRISBURG- Members of the Pennsylvania Legislature in both houses, new and returning, took the oath of office Tuesday, Jan. 5, at the state Capitol. This year as with so many other things these days were a lot different. For starters, elected officials were given a limited amount of tickets. Freshmen received three tickets and returning members received two. In addition, to make sure social distancing protocols were followed, members took their oaths in batches and all celebratory gatherings were prohibited.
Among the freshmen members was Napoleon Nelson, a Democrat representing the 154th, which includes Cheltenham, Jenkintown and Springfield in Montgomery County. He replaced fellow Democrat Steve McCarter, who announced his retirement last spring. Nelson becomes the only African American in the state legislature representing a majority white district after serving as the Cheltenham tax collector and before that on the Cheltenham school board.
Among the priorities Nelson said he will focus on in his first term are fighting for sound and equitable public education, reforming the tax code to help low- and fixed-income residents and small businesses, justice and health reforms to remove disparities in outcomes, and building strong, sustainable, welcoming communities for everyone.
“Whether it is here in Harrisburg or in the district office, I want to be always looking for solutions that benefit everyone, not just in my district but across the entire commonwealth,” Nelson said.
The House committees Nelson has been chosen to serve on will help him address his legislative priorities. They are aging and older adult services, children and youth, education and finance. As a long-time active resident of Cheltenham, Nelson sees this as an opportunity to continue his work in the community and advocate for a wide variety of groups in his district.
“I am honored to serve this community and will work every day to keep students, seniors, business owners, working families, incarcerated residents and faith leaders in my mind. Legislation is hard, but caring is not,” Nelson said.
Also being sworn in but for his second term was Dave Delloso, a former Marine and union leader from Delaware County. His district, the 162nd, covers parts of southeast parts along I-95 near the airport. In his first term Delloso was keenly aware of the hardships many in his district faced and worked hard to bring services and opportunities to his district as many battled unemployment especially after the pandemic shut down the economy.
“The work during my second term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has already begun as we take on the priorities of dealing with the budget, pandemic recovery and vaccinations,” Delloso said.
His experience as a labor leader for his local Teamsters will hopefully give him valuable insight as he sits on the House Labor and Industry committee as well as Liquor Control Board. He will join Nelson on the Finance committee and will also serve on Game and Fisheries.
“I’m honored to serve the people of Delaware County. I will continue to prioritize legislation to create high quality jobs in our region and Pennsylvania, provide full and fair funding of our schools, provide health care for all, establish justice and equality, support our veterans, and protect our seniors.”
Both elected officials will serve in the minority in their committees as the Republicans hold a sizable edge in members. Both chambers of the legislature are controlled by Republicans while the Governor’s mansion belongs to the Democrats.