Democratic State Representative-elect Brian Munroe has a unique opportunity that no other democrat has experienced in over half a century. Pennsylvania’s 144th district, under Republican control since at least 1968, turned blue in the November midterm election.
According to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives archives, no Democrat, in approximately 55 years, has ever represented the district.
“To be sent to Harrisburg by my neighbors from Warminster, Warrington, Ivyland, and New Britain is an honor,” said Munroe.
More than an honor, it’s also a major political accomplishment given the history of the seat.
Republican Benjamin H. Wilson held the seat for 19 years beginning in the late 1960s and was succeeded by four more Republicans, including his wife Jean, who held the seat for two terms following his death.
During the campaign, Munroe said he knocked on more than 10,000 doors and points to the many conversations he had with residents in the district.
“The one that really stands out emotionally was when I spoke to a husband and wife,” Munroe said. “The husband had just been diagnosed with cancer and was about to undergo chemotherapy. The fear and weight of it were on his face and shoulders. As he was telling me a little bit about what he was going to go through, I immediately recognized the type of chemotherapy. It was the same one that I had gone through.”
Munroe shared his story and saw a measure of relief spread across the man’s face.
It didn’t matter whether the household was Democrat or Republican, there were concerns about what would happen should the Republicans keep control of power, he said.
The ability to relate seems to have made all the difference when it came to addressing ongoing and upcoming concerns.
The Republicans, however, took a different approach. They avoided conversations about reproductive health care and climate change. They chose, instead, to push the fear button and focused on crime, a claim that fell flat – at least in this race.
Currently the Clerk of Courts for Bucks County, Munroe was able to push back noting that crime has not increased in the county or the district.
Data from the court revealed a dramatic decrease in crime with 2022 being one of the lowest on record for criminal cases in Bucks County since 2005.
“The Bucks County criminal court data speaks for itself,” Munroe said and advised that all criminal cases of a misdemeanor offense and above are reported to the county.
One of the most important issues Munroe plans to address is the PFAS water contamination in the district.
In 1989 the Naval Air Development Center in Warminster was placed on the National Priorities List due to the threat posed by eight disposal areas to groundwater quality. The Navy conducts five-year reviews for remedies implemented with the next evaluation scheduled for 2026.
That threat continues to be an issue and is currently being addressed, in part, by the contracted purchase of water from the North Wales Water Authority. Those costs are being passed on to customers.
How does Munroe envision the resolution of this ongoing environmental disaster?
“Simply put, money. Warminster alone has 19 wells that are currently off-line due to the contamination. $20 million would allow resin filtration systems to be put in place to reclaim those wells and give us clean, drinking water using the infrastructure that we own,” he said.
“Warrington has the same issue that would require a similar investment,” Munroe added.
Passing legislation to increase the state’s minimum wage is another of Munroe’s priorities.
“Pennsylvania’s Republican legislature has refused to provide Pennsylvania residents a living wage, and has left Pennsylvania with the lowest minimum wage of all its neighbors,” he said. “This needs to change. I fully support raising the minimum wage. I also support reforming the laws which govern how some service workers, like food servers, are paid so they are not so reliant on tips.”
Statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of State reveal Munroe to have won the election by a little more than 500 votes and, while not a landslide, his win reveals two things: Pennsylvanians are unhappy with how Republicans govern and Democrats now have the ability to show constituents what they can do.
“Being in that capitol building, and all the history associated with the Pennsylvania house of Representatives, is breathtaking,” Munroe remarked about his recent trip to Harrisburg for freshman orientation.
Midterm election winners will assume office on Dec. 1 and Munroe, along with other Democrats who flipped seats, will begin adding to that history.