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Chester County Press

Lawrence challenger: ‘I am running for the rights of people’

11/01/2022 03:59PM ● By Richard Gaw


By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

The separate campaigns being conducted by State Rep. John Lawrence and Democratic challenger David Cunningham – the results of which will determine who will represent the 13th Legislative District for the next two years on Nov. 8 – are a contrast in experience and ideals, waged by one of the most recognizable political figures in Chester County and a new arrival on the area’s political landscape.

First elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2010, Lawrence has been a stalwart advocate for his constituents and an active participant in Harrisburg. As he campaigns for what would be his seventh term, he has also become a leading voice against the forces that are conspiring to dramatically change the dynamics of health, safety and wastewater management.

After broadly condemning Tower Health last December for abandoning its Jennersville location, Lawrence worked with Sen. Carolyn Comitta, the Chester County Commissioners and Penn Township Supervisor Victor Mantegna to broker the arrangement with ChristianaCare to take over the hospital -- a deal that assures quality health services to area residents.

“Today’s announcement comes after a great deal of hard work by many people, and is a true game-changer for high-quality medical care in our community,” Lawrence said.  “It has been a pleasure working with ChristianaCare over the past few months, and I look forward to building on this foundation in the days ahead to meet the growing health care needs of southern Chester County.”

As the chairman of the House Select Committee on Restoring Law and Order, he has challenged Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner for his failure to uphold law and order in the city of Philadelphia. Under his leadership, the committee released a 63-page report that took full aim at Krasner, criticizing the district attorney and his administration for a declining conviction rate, and an increase in the number of firearms being withdrawn or dismissed – all of which are contributing to the city’s skyrocketing gun violence.

Lawrence has also become one of the leading voices in the continuing efforts to halt the proposed sale of the Chester Water Authority, and introduced House Bill 527 – that passed in the House by a bipartisan majority – in an effort to stop the sale of the CWA.

In 2021, legislation sponsored by Lawrence to expedite Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout passed the state House with broad bipartisan support. Over the past two years, Lawrence has served on several committees in the House: Appropriations, Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Government Oversight, Professional Licensure, Transportation and Rules.  

At first glance, the key tenets of Cunningham’s campaign to defeat Lawrence overlap with several of his opponent’s stances – and accomplishments -- on several hot-topic issues such as curbing gun violence, establishing voting integrity, championing the availability of local healthcare, advocating for employees in the agricultural industry and opposing the sale of the CWA.

However, it was the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 24 that served as his inspiration to enter the race. Cunningham sees the ruling as the beginning of a conservative tsunami that will eventually de-legalize marriage and gay rights. Without naming his opponent directly, he said that the political landscape is filled with elected officials who have lost touch “with the human beings they represent.”

“I have looked at John Lawrence’s voting record and as far as I can tell, he is a straight [Republican Party] voter, and I don’t know how you can be a straight party voter and still be in touch with the people,” he said, “but I’m not running against John Lawrence. I am running for the rights of people.”

While Cunningham has not held political office, his resume is thick with experience, particularly in the area of child protection, where he helped to get several child protection laws passed. A communication expert and motivational speaker, he is a former director for the National Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse, a former executive director of the Connecticut Justice for Children Collaboration, and helped establish non-profit organizations in every state, dedicated to the prevention of child abuse.

Cunningham said that his background in human relations and negotiation will serve him well in the House of Representatives.

“I have always brought people together, and I do it with the understanding that everyone has a view, and no one is right and no one is wrong,” he said. “Every view is as legitimate as the other view, and when you find out what is important to other people, they can honor what is important to you.”

Cunningham is encouraging voters not to vote for a political party, but “a future they can be confident in.”
“I want to leave Harrisburg knowing that the people’s rights will be protected – the right to choose and the right to marry who you love,” he said. “I want to be able to leave Harrisburg saying, ‘I brought the process together, and the whole process by which legislation moves got worked out, and that the process became what it is intended for.’

“I want to leave Harrisburg saying that I helped take the animosity and the fight out of the legislative process. If I can walk out having accomplished that, I will be one happy legislator.”

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].