It’s Time for the Truth

We’re sick of talking about COVID-19.

But let’s talk about it, anyway.

Because we can’t NOT talk about it. Cases nationally are surging – only two states, Missouri and Vermont, saw a decrease in new cases this week. Here in Lebanon County infections are going up too. We’ve now topped our new cases number. Hospitalizations, likewise, are going back up. Deaths, as we all know, will follow.

There are enough data available to us, and experts who are willing to offer guidance, to support the following guidance.

Individuals should:

😷 Wear a mask (properly)

😷 Wash their hands frequently

😷 Watch their distance

The government should:

💉Ensure widespread rapid-results testing

💉Establish contact-tracing

💉Enable quarantining for positive cases and contacts

Right now, estimates of mask-wearing indicate about 50% of people are doing it. But experts say we need that number to be near 80% for it to be truly effective. Plus, it only works in conjunction with the rest of these steps. No single step alone is enough. For example, the White House relied primarily on rapid-results testing. We all saw how that turned out.

Here in the 102, Representative Diamond continues to push the narrative that masks are ineffective at best, dangerous at worst. The sources he cites are misrepresentations of the science, and can only lead one to conclude that either (a) he is scientifically illiterate or (b) he is politicizing his response in order to garner attention/support. Ultimately the reason doesn’t matter, but the results do – and the results are more cases in Lebanon County, more hospitalizations, and more damage to our health and our businesses.

If you’re a career politician, then making this a political matter may be useful. It may result in more votes, or greater personal popularity. For me, it’s more important that I tell you the truth and do what I can to make our community safe – even if it’s not popular with some of the voters in the 102. Public health and safety should always trump politics.

Here’s the truth: it IS entirely up to you whether you wear a mask or not. But we need to stop allowing people to pretend that we don’t know whether it’s effective or not. We need to stop pretending that masks may be harmful to wear. We need to stop acting like the leaders who are encouraging mask wearing – including Republicans like Mike DeWine and now Chris Christie, and Democrats like Tom Wolf and Joe Biden – are doing so as part of some hoax or conspiracy to deprive you of your rights. The best data we have available right now, along with many global case studies, indicate that these are the things to keep our community healthy and allow our economy to resume business.

And we need leaders who will tell us the truth and listen to the experts.

Things Aren’t Always Black and White

Since January, when I decided to run for Pennsylvania House District 102, I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to people in the district about what is important to them. 

Politicians often frame things as being a stark black-and-white contrast: a binary choice between A or B, with no in-between. But my goal is to create a community where we can have in-depth discussions, despite our disagreements, and hopefully arrive at a solution that is agreeable to all – or at least most – of the constituents in the 102.

One example right now is the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re presented with two options: stay in your homes and never leave, or resume normal life with no precautions. Asking people to stay home is unsustainable for any extended length of time. But opening up with no safeguards damages businesses as well. People are more reluctant to go out when they feel their health is at risk. 

But this pandemic isn’t an either/or situation. We can take commonsense personal actions (wearing a mask, washing our hands, and watching our distance) and combine those with community actions (testing, quarantining, contact tracing) to achieve the best of both worlds: protecting our community health while businesses resume their activities with some modifications.

Many Pennsylvanians are also concerned about school property taxes. Again, this issue gets framed as either (a) complete elimination or (b) taxes that continually spiral upwards. If elimination were an easy solution, it would have been done by now. But what if we could reduce the local school property tax burden, providing some relief to property owners, while still leaving some local control over our schools? 

To do this, we need to increase the state’s share of education costs. One solution: tax income from wages and interest at a rate of 2.8% (lower than the current rate of 3.07%) and all other income, such as capital gains, at a rate of 6.5%. This would generate at least $2 billion of additional revenue that could be used for education. Likewise, closing the Delaware loophole so that corporations operating in Pennsylvania pay their fair share could raise $600 million in new revenue. Many local school districts are currently paying 60% or more of their educational costs. More funding from the state could reduce the local taxes, while still providing high quality public education to our students.

These are just two examples from the conversations I’ve had with people in the 102. Some of you will agree with me, some will disagree. Others may want more details, or fewer. But if we can start to have discussions about innovative approaches to our common problems, we may actually accomplish something to help Lebanon County.

There is one choice that definitely is an either/or, though: who will represent you in the PA House for District 102. I hope you’ll consider me.

Back to School

Teachers and students have embarked (or soon will) on this strangest of school years. I believe our schools are doing their best to balance the needs of the students, the school staff, and the community.

Still, given that in most communities we’re not even close to having the kind of systems and protocols in place that would lead to success, it’s no wonder that teachers, students, and parents feel some trepidation.

I know that teachers will step up, as they always do. I’ve said before, being a high school teacher was the hardest work I’ve ever done – but also the most rewarding. Currently I work with in-service teachers and know that these folks truly care about educating our young people. Our teachers are amazing, and I wish them all the best this year.

Our students will also be making sacrifices, both big and small. I hope they all stay safe and healthy and are able to experience some sense of normalcy.

But I’ve been troubled by reactions when teachers raise questions about the safety of returning to in-person instruction, particularly in schools where lack of resources makes it tough to follow guidelines for doing so safely. A common refrain is “kick the bums out and we’ll replace them with eager young teachers who want to be there.”

The only problem is, our teachers have been disrespected for so long that there is no glut of professionals waiting to replace them. In fact, there’s a teacher shortage, and if our current educators leave (or become incapacitated due to illness) that will become even worse. The coronavirus pandemic has only added to these issues.

So teachers, students, and fellow parents – I wish us all the best. We’ll need it. And in the meantime, let’s work as a community to make things safer, not just for schools but also for grocery store workers, healthcare providers, convenience store clerks, and everyone who’s working with the public to keep our lives as close to normal as they can. We’re all in this together.

Thank you!

I had to bring the whole team in to help write thank you cards to the hundreds of people who have donated to my campaign so far.

Duvall for 102 campaign advisors

Family is important to me and it’s part of the reason I’m running for office. I am by no means perfect, but I strive to be an example to my kids of how we should behave in the world.

That starts with treating people with kindness, seeking to understand others’ perspectives, and making charitable assumptions about their motivations. At the end of the day, we all share our humanity.

Because we’re all human, we’re not going to be perfect, and we won’t always agree. But as Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”


Thanks for reading this! The biggest help you can give my campaign is to share this post widely within your social networks. I am dedicated to creating a grassroots movement to represent the constituents of the 102nd district, but to do so, I need your help in getting the message out.

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The Unmasked Community

Representative Diamond released an official statement supporting “the unmasked community.”

He repurposed PA Secretary of Health Dr. Levine’s eloquent statement supporting the LGBTQ+ community, but denies that he was mocking her. It’s hard to imagine why else he would have done that. But regardless, LGBTQ+ folks already face enough hate, ignorance, and bullying. Diamond’s actions, intentional or not, added to that. That he used his status as a public official only makes it more disgraceful.

The press release garnered a lot of attention for Representative Diamond, including national stories. That may benefit him personally in some ways. However, those stories cast him and, by extension, Lebanon County, in a very bad light.

And even more importantly, mocking the LGBTQ+ community/not wearing a mask doesn’t help the businesses in Lebanon County that are trying to reopen or stay open. It doesn’t help the community to stay healthy. Writing anti-science press releases does nothing to secure or replace the $13 million dollars in discretionary funding that Lebanon County lost, due to actions that Representative Diamond encouraged and supported.

I know some people are scared of losing their freedom. But wearing a mask means being free to go into a store or a restaurant. Wearing a mask means keeping our neighbors healthy. Our country’s Declaration of Independence declared three unalienable rights, but liberty is the second one. The first one is life. It’s hard to exercise your freedom when you’re dead.

So wear a mask correctly, wash your hands, and watch your distance. And vote Duvall in November.

Finally, the LGBTQ+ members in our community need our support, not actions that further the likelihood they will be harassed or discriminated against. LGBTQ+ youth, in particular, are more likely to experience bullying and harassment than their heterosexual peers. National organizations such as GLAAD and The Trevor Project and local ones like Domestic Violence Intervention of Lebanon County and the Central PA LGBT Center provide educational and other resources to help.

PSEA Endorses Matt Duvall for the 102

In 2008, I left my corporate IT job to become a high school teacher. I’d been teaching college classes as an adjunct and found that it was much more rewarding to me than the work I was doing at an office. And now (I thought) here was my ticket to easy street. A 7 -3 schedule. All those holiday breaks. Plus summers off!

I quickly discovered that while the kids went home at 3 pm – unless they needed tutoring, or help with the yearbook, or…well, you get the picture – my day didn’t end there. There were still lessons to plan, assignments to grade, and materials to be created. I can honestly say that teaching high school was the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life. But it was also the most fulfilling, and I was surrounded by colleagues who took our responsibility as educators seriously.

Right now, I’m wrapping up some courses I’m teaching for a local university on educational technology for in-service teachers. And I recognize in the discussions we’ve had and the assignments they’ve completed that same commitment to providing quality education to our young students, even in these strange times.

That’s why I’m proud to announce that my campaign has been endorsed by the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). I appreciate their confidence in me and promise to work hard in Harrisburg to ensure that our school workers are treated with dignity and respect. Thank you PSEA!

Funding for Lebanon County Businesses

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard that Governor Wolf is withholding nearly $13 million of CARES funding from Lebanon County. I’ve been wrestling with what to say about this, and indeed, whether to say anything at all. Even in the best of times, this would be bound for the “partisan politics as usual” argument, with the heroes and villains cast according to your own personal political viewpoint. And these are not the best of times.

My focus is on the folks who are suffering because of this. The vast majority of Lebanon Countians, particularly our small business owners, followed the rules – even those who didn’t agree with them. They stayed the course, they implemented changes according to the guidelines, and they sacrificed to keep our community safe. And now, because of actions outside of their control, they’re not receiving benefits that should be available to them.

I’m writing to Governor Wolf to ask for his consideration on this matter. As you can imagine, the title “Democratic candidate for the 102” added to my name gives me a lot of clout, especially in our gerrymandered district. But it’s the least I can do.

And, partisan politics or not, this result was completely predictable. Read the statement from the governor on May 11. He clearly said that counties who acted outside the state’s guidance for reopening would sacrifice, among other things, their CARES funding. Lebanon wasn’t the only county to threaten to move themselves ahead of the timetable, but we were the only ones who actually did so. Two of our county commissioners, our state representatives, our state senator, and even our district attorney voted for or encouraged this action. Now, as the consequences for those actions come due, their only recourse is further blame and recriminations, and the threat of yet another lawsuit – which still does nothing right now to help our neighbors.

Most discouraging in all this is that it didn’t have to be this way. Imagine if this energy and effort had been put into amplifying testing efforts, messaging effective science-based practices, creating contact tracing protocols, and ensuring that quarantine measures could and would be followed. This virus doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or Democrat and it still won’t after this latest battle ends. Well just have fewer resources to fight it with.

So: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. And make sure to vote in November. We’re seeing, right now, how our local elections have impacted our community. It’s time for a change.


Thanks for reading this! The biggest help you can give my campaign is to share this post widely within your social networks. I am dedicated to creating a grassroots movement to represent the constituents of the 102nd district, but to do so, I need your help in getting the message out.

Prefer to donate money instead? Join the hundreds of individuals who already have.

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Midday with Matt – Racism in America

Here’s more of my conversation with Chanel, Anir, and Kenny about being black in the United States.


Thanks for watching this video! The biggest help you can give my campaign is to share this post widely within your social networks. I am dedicated to creating a grassroots movement to represent the constituents of the 102nd district, but to do so, I need your help in getting the message out.

Prefer to donate money instead? Join the hundreds of individuals who already have.

If you’ve saved your payment information with ActBlue Express, your donation will go through immediately:

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Masks Are Not Child Abuse

Representative Russ Diamond recently brought Lebanon County to national attention once again – but not in a good way. In a statement to the media, he said that masks do more harm than good. This statement caught the attention of Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economist, who said such a statement was “dangerous nonsense.” Subsequently, Representative Diamond doubled down, tweeting an infographic that “a masked child is an abused child.”

The idea underlying the representative’s anti-science campaign, that we’re faced with an either/or option, is a false one. It’s not either wear a mask or open the economy. It’s not either follow safety guidelines or send kids back to school in the fall. We have to do both. In fact, these things depend on each other in order to happen.

We have many case studies to look at in regards to dealing with the coronavirus, given that it is a global pandemic. Sweden took a do-nothing approach, which originally appeared to lessen the economic consequences. However, data now show that not only did Sweden’s economy eventually suffer as much as its neighbors, but the country also had many more deaths than those countries that did implement shelter-at-home and other precautions.

Here in the US, we’re watching as states that reopened early and widely, without achieving the recommended metrics and with little in the way of safeguards in place, are now rolling back their openings and experiencing a surge in both positive cases and hospitalizations. Death, the ultimate negative effect, also may increase in the weeks to come – although some progress on treatments may (and hopefully will) help to alleviate that. Still, there are many instances where people with COVID-19 are faced with weeks/months/possibly a lifetime of negative health results.

And what about schools? As a supporter of public education, I recognize the value in having well-trained, professional teachers educating our children. There are also many social and emotional benefits to our children attending schools in person, especially for our most vulnerable.

At the same time, we cannot sacrifice these same children and teachers on the altar of convenience. We need to take seriously the recommendations of the experts. Our politicians — unless they are scientists with experience in medicine, virology, or epidemiology – should listen to those with expertise. Politicians can lead at a time like this by modeling appropriate behavior, providing clear and coherent messaging, and allocating resources to the areas that will help us resume some sense of normalcy.

I would urge everyone that, if we want our businesses to stay opened and our schools to resume in the fall, we focus on these things.

First, we must all – even children – follow the three W’s:

  1. Wear a mask correctly
  2. Wash your hands
  3. Watch your distance

Secondly, our public officials must work together with healthcare providers and private businesses to:

  • Ramp up testing, especially rapid results testing for our most vulnerable citizens and our public-facing workers
  • Isolate positive cases
  • Create teams of contact tracers, including use of technology, with effective protocols for identifying people who may have been infected by a positive case
  • Quarantine those who have been exposed until they’re verified not to have the coronavirus, including providing quarantine facilities if/when necessary

When it comes to reopening schools, if we rush into it with no concern for our students/teachers/administrators, as well as the communities they’re all a part of, we will only achieve failure. Here in Lebanon County we have the opportunity, with good leadership and strong community participation, to become an example of how to do things right. We should work together, at all levels, to make ourselves an example of what happens when we follow the best scientifically-based guidance available and focus on both public health and reopening. That’s the recognition I’d like to see Lebanon County receive.


Thanks for reading this! The biggest help you can give my campaign is to share this post widely within your social networks. I am dedicated to creating a grassroots movement to represent the constituents of the 102nd district, but to do so, I need your help in getting the message out.

Prefer to donate money instead? Join the hundreds of individuals who already have.

If you’ve saved your payment information with ActBlue Express, your donation will go through immediately:

Express Donate: $2

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Or, donate another amount