Monday, March 07, 2016
Norberto Dominguez: Why I Withdrew in State House Race
For over 25 years, I’ve dedicated myself to working hard for my community and the 22nd district, instilling that same standard in the hearts and minds of every person I’ve engaged, during my time as the director of HALA (Hispanic American League of Artists) and as a Jordan Heights Neighborhood Manager for CACLV.
I’ve had the honor of working with great community leaders from Jesus Ramos (who recently passed) to teens ready to change their community for the better. There are great people in the 22nd, many that remind me of my parents. The people of the 22nd district that I’ve come to know over time are not power hungry. They are not privileged. They work hard to make their lives and their children’s lives better.
Believing that Peter Schweyer was a principled man, a man of good will, a man committed to democracy and the will of the people, a man like my father, I made a promise to him early on that if I decided to run for his seat, I would tell him face to face. And I did. Before shaking his hand that day, I relayed to him that I hoped we would run this race with honor and with respect and Schweyer concurred.
Little did I know, that all bets would be off once petition season ended. On February 24th, the day after the deadline to file a challenge, I received an email from the law office of Adam C. Bonin notifying me that Peter Schweyer had challenged my petitions. Three days later, I was served by Schweyer’s law firm. March 1st, I received a letter from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania compelling me to face Schweyer in court on the 14th. Given the fact that I had to resign my position from CACLV in order to run, due to the Hatch Act, I was in no position to hire my own lawyer and fight this challenge.
On March 2nd, I officially withdrew my name from the ballot. Before I arrived home, it was already listed on the state website. Three days later, I received another letter (postmarked March 3) from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania notifying me that Peter Schweyer had withdrawn his petition challenge. I can only hazard a guess that the blowback he’d received on the Lehigh Valley Ramblings blog sent him running for cover and that he hoped that by withdrawing no one would notice how he had chosen to undercut the democratic process itself. I gather having a Latino opponent in a predominantly Latino district was not his preference. Yet he was all too happy to use a Latino to sign his challenge.
Clearly Peter Schweyer was more interested in this election being decided prior to the people of the 22nd district ever having an opportunity to cast a single ballot. He was supported in doing his dirty work by Nestor Tatis, Representative to the Executive Board of the Allentown City Democratic Committee, a fellow Dominican.
I am a wiser man today than I was that day I shook Peter Schweyer’s hand and committed to running a respectful race for the support of the people of the 22nd district. This district was created to represent the large Latino population living within its borders. Yet, Schweyer, a member of the disgraced mayor’s inner circle, and the Democratic Committee, has done very little for the Latino residents here.
It is with deep sadness that I note that, both at a city and a county level, the Democratic Party in this town seems mired in maintaining the same folks at the top that have always been at the top. They are no different than the Republican Party. Their actions, in this case, speak louder than their talking points.
You’d think they’d have learned something in the past seven months about subverting democracy from watching the long shadow cast across City Hall by the ongoing FBI investigation on corruption.
On March 2nd, I officially withdrew from this race. Today, I’ve resigned my position as a committeeperson of the Allentown City Democratic Committee. I cannot stand with a party committed to taking away the ability of the people of this district to weigh in on who represents their best interests in Harrisburg.
I remain a man of my word. I continue to believe in my father’s lessons, that fairness, wisdom and humility, are a requirement, of good leadership. Unfortunately, it seems Peter Schweyer does not.