Three people will run in the for two places on the November ballot for the Pennsylvania Congressional District 14 seat.
Incumbent Mike Doyle, a Democrat from Forest Hills, will face off with Democrat Janis Brooks, a North Versailles resident, in the primary for the Democratic nomination. The winner will run against Republican Hans Lessmann of Forest Hills in November.
Below are details from an interview with candidate Janis Brooks. For an article about candidate Mike Doyle , click here. An article about Hans Lessmann also will be appearing on Plum-Oakmont Patch, so stay tuned.
Brooks, a Democrat who resides in North Versailles, holds a doctorate in public administration from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's degree in urban studies in management from the University of Maryland. She received her bachelor’s degree from Clarion University, where she studied comprehensive social studies for secondary education.
Brooks is the pastor of the Church Of Inclusion International Ministries in North Versailles, and the founder and CEO of Citizens to Abolish Domestic Apartheid, a nonprofit organization also located in North Versailles that provides learning experiences for youth and senior citizens, as well as after-school programs. More information about this organization can be found by clicking here.
Brooks has two children. Her daughter is a medical researcher who has worked with the National Institute of Health, and her son is a physicist and engineer who has worked with NASA.
Creating jobs and new employment opportunities is extremely important, Brooks said, but when jobs are available, people must be trained to do them.
Brooks said she wants to re-examine the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, which was enacted in 1973 to provide work training and jobs in public service.
“It’s wonderful to have the technology and industry-oriented positions we have available in this area, but with the (residents) we have in 14th district, we need more industry-specific job training,” she said.
Creating jobs and opportunities can’t be done without improvements to education, Brooks said.
Brooks has dedicated much of her work to programs that help underprivileged and at-risk students, but she said students from all walks of life face educational challenges, and smaller communities often are hit hard.
“Our future really is our kids and we should help them,” she said. “Some people think these are just problems in the inner city, but youth are youth regardless of what the setting is. How do we stop this? By educating people.”
Brooks said she wants to work with the Department of Education to create or restructure grants so that smaller communities can get funding for after-school programs more easily.
She also wants to focus on increasing relationships between universities and local public schools, another way in which she considers Pittsburgh already a leader. When schools interact with universities, students can meet mentors who can encourage them on their educational path, she said. Increased funding for universities also is important, in this regard, she said.
“So many of our children are struggling in school and they need to see people close to their age who can say, 'It was tough for me, too, but I made it,’” she said. “They need to hear that. The universities can open up a whole new avenue for students.”
Transportation and the Economy
Transportation also is key to job growth, Brooks said, but increasing gas prices and transportation cuts are making it difficult to recover from economic setbacks.
“Senior citizens and the middle class, because of economy, they’re struggling, “ she said. “Property taxes have tripled in some cases, but has your income tripled?”
Brooks said she personally knows many people who are walking to work, who can’t afford prescriptions and struggle to pay for food.
She said she wants to analyze government programs that already are in place, and see where improvements can be made. If government-funded daycare and after-school services could be increased, parents would be able to work without worrying about the care of their children. But jobs and transportation—basic needs of citizens—also must be addressed, and the government must work to find ways to subsidize what she calls the “working poor.”
“I don’t have a million dollars raised, but I’m helping the people who are struggling,” Brooks said. “Everyone has to be represented well. If we can form a model by doing that in the Pittsburgh area, we can spread that across the country.”
For more information about Janis Brooks, see her campaign website.