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P.A. Attorney General candidate Josh Shapiro outlines plans to help students

Braddock Mayor John Fetterman held a reception on Sept. 19 at his home to raise funds for the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania Attorney General, Josh Shapiro. If appointed as Attorney General, Shapiro will represent the state in legal proceedings and will act as an advocate for the public, according to the National Association of Attorney Generals.

Shapiro spoke to approximately 50 adults, outlining his plans for promoting minority rights and reducing incarceration. Regarding policies relevant to college students, he said, “I am going to be doing everything I can to help students in dealing with campus sexual assault, which is a huge problem on campuses, and [will help] students deal with fraud against them by student loan companies.”

Shapiro said he will ensure that when someone makes a report to an official, such as a Resident Assistant or an administrator, the official knows who this information needs to be reported to, thus creating a reporting chain. He plans to do this by requiring all such leaders to sign an agreement confirming that they “understand what their responsibilities are.” Shapiro has also promised to eliminate the backlog of over 1,800 evidence kits in Pennsylvania by processing the evidence in sexual assault cases.

In addition, Shapiro mentioned the illicit collection of student debt as a problem since many debt collection agencies deceive students so that they pay more than they actually owe on their student loans. On his campaign website, he vows to “protect Pennsylvanians with student loan debt by cracking down on the predatory lenders and collection agencies that try to take advantage of them.”

Shapiro also urged students to communicate with political leaders like him, whether it be through email, Snapchat, or Facebook. “I do things that are helpful to students when I hear from them. But they have to be engaged in the process, certainly in the political process, and ultimately in the governing process as well,” he said.

While many students are disappointed with how politicians often fail to govern effectively, Shapiro encouraged them to nevertheless advocate for their preferred candidate. “I think getting frustrated and not voting doesn’t accomplish anything since you don’t get the government that you want,” he said.

There is a large controversy surrounding the position of P.A. Attorney General since Kathleen Kane, the previous Attorney General, was forced to resign in Aug. after being convicted of nine criminal charges including conspiracy, perjury, and obstruction of justice, according to The New York Times. That’s why Shapiro said his first priority is to restore integrity to the office. Shapiro believes that if he can hire people with integrity and establish a culture of honesty, he will “give the outside world the confidence in what we are doing, and we will be able to tackle these challenges.”

Shapiro emphasized his integrity, contrasting it with Kane’s corruption by saying, “What you are hearing from me is what I say in every community across Pennsylvania. Someone said to me, ‘Oh my God, you are going to talk about LGBT rights in Western Pennsylvania?’ Yeah, not only am I going to talk about it, I am going to put an ad on TV about it.” Shapiro said this in the same spot where a same-sex couple had previously gotten married.

Shapiro also promised to protect the right to safe drinking water for all Pennsylvanians. “That’s not just because I care about the environment or that I’m endorsed by the Environmental Group. It’s because your state constitution says you have a right to clean air and water,” he said.

Furthermore, Shapiro believes that the Pennsylvania education system is not thorough and efficient, a violation of the state constitution. There is currently a case before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania contesting whether the state has been providing a quality education to all students. Even though he is seeking to be Pennsylvania’s legal representative, Shapiro has announced that he will not support the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. “I will join with the plaintiffs and I will fight to make sure we get a thorough and efficient education system,” he said.

Voters, including many Carnegie Mellon students, will have the opportunity to decide who will become Attorney General for the next four years. Shapiro, for his part, believes he can use this position to advance the public good, describing how he hopes to run the Office of Attorney General by saying, “I want to create the largest public-interest law firm in the entire country.”