Click here for information and resources.
Who is Summer Lee?
In 2018, Summer decided that real changes were needed across the district, and that the status quo wasn’t equitable. She became the first Black Woman from Southwestern Pennsylvania to hold the office of State Representative as she won with more than sixty percent of the vote in a race against a twenty year incumbent.
Since taking office in 2019, Summer has been a voice for people across the district, championing initiatives that support sustainable jobs, environmental responsibility, police accountability, and gender and racial equality, and has been a tireless advocate for workers’ rights and the fight for a $15 minimum wage. During her short time in office, Summer has already brought nearly $2 million back to the district for infrastructural updates and community revitalization. She’s sponsored 71 bills in the house and has cast more than 800 votes on legislation that directly affects our communities.
Summer has been a dedicated organizer, activist, and advocate for social justice for much of her life. During the 2016 presidential election, she served as a Field Organizer in her home district for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, where she recruited, managed, and led volunteers engaging in direct voter contact. During the 2017 primary elections, she spearheaded a successful write-in campaign to bring immediate change to the Woodland Hills School Board after the board failed to address repeated incidents of violence against students from police officers and schools administrators.
Summer is a lifelong resident of the 34th district, where she grew up in the North Braddock and Rankin neighborhoods. Currently, she resides in Swissvale.
Help keep us going strong:
Summer Lee On The IssuesOur State Legislature holds tremendous power to enact transformative legislation. Thanks to Republicans and conservative Democrats, the Legislature has, for decades, worked against the interests of the vast majority of the people of Pennsylvania.
If re-elected, I will continue to support progressive policies that serve all Pennsylvanians - not just a privileged few.
Mass incarceration is the antithesis of building stronger families and communities in the district. The criminal and juvenile justice systems are among the biggest barriers to social justice and upward mobility; the taxpayers of Pennsylvania foot the bill. Pennsylvania spends more on prisons than on public higher education. While spending on higher education has fallen by 35% since 1990 (adjusted for inflation), the state’s prison expenditures have grown by 137%. This increase comes at the expense of other social services that Pennsylvanians rely on, including Medicaid for thousands of children. All the while, Pennsylvania’s public education system is suffering. Our state must shift from investing in punishment to investing in our children.
If re-elected, I will continue to:
- Work to end the “school to-prison pipeline.” Our schools need to be a safe space for all students to learn and grow. Our current model of referring children to armed law enforcement on campus and prosecuting them for schoolyard infractions feeds children into the prison industrial complex and limits their future prospects. Following the model of other states, we must ensure that suspension, expulsion, and incarceration are seen as the absolute last resort, and must implement more restorative and effective practices.
- Oppose the reinstatement of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Our current representatives have failed to heed the lessons of the past three decades: that the strategy behind the “War on Drugs” is an unmitigated failure that has only torn families and communities apart. Mandatory minimums disproportionately affect black and poor communities, and only hinder efforts to combat the opioid crisis in our communities today. Our family members, friends, and neighbors who suffer from addiction don’t need harsh prison sentences; they need affordable and accessible medical care.
- Push for the elimination of cash bail. Our current system, which imprisons people based on their ability to pay, is a barbaric relic of the past. Pennsylvania can and should pass legislation, with bipartisan support, to end the practice of cash bail.
- Support a moratorium on new prison construction in Pennsylvania.
Every child in Pennsylvania deserves access to a first-rate, free and public education, irrespective of their zip code or socio-economic background. Unfortunately, our funding mechanisms for public education are deeply inequitable, leaving working-class communities behind.
In my second term, I will continue to fight for:
- Equitable funding for our schools. Pennsylvania must abandon its reliance on the property tax to fund its public schools, and more toward a fair funding formula that guarantees that children will not be punished for growing up in the “wrong” zip code.
- Universal free pre-kindergarten, including early childcare.
- Dramatically expanding teacher-training programs, with a focus on generating high-quality teachers with cultural competency among an increasingly diverse student population.
- Reversing the shameful abandonment of our state’s system of public higher education. Once a lifeline for working-class students across Pennsylvania, our state’s public colleges and universities have been starved for resources, with steep funding cuts over the past few decades. We need to cut tuition and improve quality - and, ultimately, move toward free, public higher education for all Pennsylvanians.
- Strict oversight and controls on charter schools. Our state government exercises virtually no oversight of charter schools, giving a free rein to operators and enabling serious abuses of the system. Private individuals should not profit off of our children, and we must not allow charters to drain money from our public schools. I'll push for strict oversight, and for the closure of underperforming charters.
I continue to believe that access to affordable healthcare is a right that every man, woman and child should have in Pennsylvania. No resident of our state should fear losing coverage because of preexisting conditions, losing a job, daring to create their own business, or aging off of their parent’s insurance. Legislation providing healthcare for all would not just save money, it would save lives.
In my second term, I will continue to fight for access to affordable healthcare and seek to ensure that not only every resident of the district, but every Pennsylvanian can live without constantly worrying about the financial implications of their next medical emergency.
We need to move away from a failed strategy of corporate tax breaks and other policies that reinforce systemic inequalities. I believe that the only way our state government can truly support sustainable economic growth is to invest in our people. That’s why I’ve continued to advocate for legislation that supports a fair minimum wage and aims to close the unnecessary gap between skyrocketing corporate profits and unlivable wages. That’s why I fought to bring $2 million back to the district for infrastructural improvements. In my second term I will continue to:
- Fight for a $15 minimum wage, which is long overdue. We must move toward a world where all workers are paid a decent living wage.
- Use the power of my office to support my constituents’ right and ability to unionize.
- Support investments in our state’s infrastructure. Spending on our roads, bridges, public transit, and ports creates good union jobs and improves our quality of life in the short term, and encourages sustainable economic growth in the long term.
- Rebuild our system of public higher education. Education and economics cannot be separated. A long-term investment in our workforce is the single best investment Pennsylvania can make.
Deep inequality has been baked into our state’s Constitution. Under the so-called “uniformity clause”, Pennsylvania is prohibited from levying higher income tax rates on high earners, creating an absurd situation where poor families facing a higher tax burden, by percentage, than do the richest among us. This has resulted in Pennsylvania having the fifth most regressive tax system in the nation.
This must be addressed, if we are to sustainably fund progressive priorities. We must unite, across Pennsylvania, to amend our constitution to allow for a progressive income tax. This will reduce our disproportionate reliance on property taxes, sales taxes, and other regressive taxes that are currently many localities’ only real revenue option.
In the interim, I am a strong supporter of the “Fair Share Tax”, which would place a higher tax rate on income from wealth (capital gains, dividends, etc) and could be accomplished without a constitutional amendment.
Our region continues to suffer from some of the poorest air quality in the nation. Risk factors for asthma, cancer and other diseases are still major points of concern for many of our residents. Despite this, many in governmental positions still don’t see a need to establish protections against projects that pose even greater environmental and health risk. That’s why since being in office I’ve been so vocal in my opposition to fracking and have emphasized the need for sustainable jobs. In my second term, I will continue to propose and support legislation that puts the health of our communities, and not the interests of major corporations, first. I will continue to fight for:
- A moratorium on fracking. Fracking poses unacceptable health risks, particularly to children and infants. I am deeply opposed to the proposed fracking site at the Edgar Thomson Steel Mill.
- Full state funding of lead water line replacement. It is unacceptable that our children are exposed to lead daily. We can and must guarantee clean water for all; the state is where the financial resources exist to make this happen.
- Restoring the Department of Environmental Protection's funding to pre-Corbett levels. Our regulators do not have the resources needed to enforce pollution limits already on the books.
- Transitioning to 100% renewable energy across Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania could lead the way on renewable energy; our solar sector is already outpacing the nation. Renewable energy is good for the environment and the economy.
Women’s rights are under attack, at all levels of government - but particularly here in Pennsylvania, as Republicans join with conservative Democrats seeking to roll back hard-fought gains.
As State Representative, I have been an uncompromising fighter in our struggle for equality. If re-elected, I vow to:
- Support universal childcare. Too many women in Pennsylvania are forced to make impossible choices, thanks to a lack of affordable childcare options. High-quality, universal childcare is within our reach.
- Defend access to reproductive healthcare, including the right to an abortion.
- Support the Pennsylvania Agenda for Women’s Health. Pennsylvania’s record on women’s healthcare is appalling, one of the worst in the nation. I will fight for this vital package of bills pertaining to women’s healthcare.
Recent economic downturns have exposed the appalling lack of a safety net for our senior citizens. Pennsylvania cannot turn its back on our seniors; we can, and must do better.
If re-elected, I will continue to:
- Work to reduce our reliance on the property tax. The property tax hits senior homeowners on fixed incomes the hardest. By passing a “millionaire’s tax”, shifting the burden onto higher-income earners, we can reduce the tax burden on our seniors.
- Invest in public transportation. As transit systems around the state face cuts, senior services are often the first to go - leaving many of our citizens virtually stranded and immobile. We need to expand fixed-route offerings throughout Allegheny County, while ensuring all all costs that ACCESS service is not caught up in state transit cuts.
The struggle for LGBTQ rights is among the defining civil rights issues of our time. Pennsylvania, lagging behind the rest of the nation, has no statewide law preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity - for employment, housing, public accommodations, and more.
In my second term I will continue to work tirelessly to remediate this injustice, and remain a strong supporter of the PA Fairness Act.
It’s been almost two years since we collectively decided that major change was needed in our district, and that the status quo was insufficient. Together, we set the stage for real progress. Since that moment, I’m happy to say that we’ve accomplished so much, including:
- Bringing back $2 million dollars to the district for infrastructural updates and direct invest to our communities.
- Introducing legislation to create and support sustainable jobs.
- Introducing legislation to hold police accountable and keep our communities safe.
- Creating measures ensuring the equitable treatment of all women, including those incarcerated.
- Supporting measures to protect our environment and the health of every person in the district.
Summer Lee in the Media
We've been making waves in PA District 34. Here are just a few examples of the buzz Summer Lee has been generating:
How State Rep. Summer Lee’s UNITE PAC swept the 2019 primary election
Pittsburgh City Paper
Summer Lee, Legislative Black Caucus look to reform police procedures in Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh City Paper
Cool People Doing Cool Things: Summer Lee (PA District 34)
Made In PGH
Women's March speaker: Get uncomfortable, challenge status quo
The Barre Montpeler Times Argus
3 Female Millennial Democratic Nominees in Pennsylvania Want To Change The Party From Within
Representation Can Fix Democracy
Here are a few of the organizations who have endorsed Summer Lee this election cycle: