Thank you 102!

In January, I decided to run for PA HD 102 to give people a choice. My vision of politics is that we work to help those who are overlooked or underserved. We should measure the health of our democracy by how people at the bottom are doing, not those who are at the top.

This was always going to be an uphill battle. Everyone in Lebanon County knows that. There were times when it felt too daunting to continue. I can’t thank by name everyone who helped me through those times – there are too many of you. But I would like to thank my campaign manager/wife, Natalie. We are uniquely suited for each other in so many ways, and her support was unwavering.

And whenever I hit a low point, there were always many people out there supporting me. I truly appreciate those who gathered signatures, broadcast our messages on social media, donated money, put up yard signs, hosted fundraisers, texted and phoned, and told their friends about my candidacy. Without all of you, we wouldn’t have made it to the end of the race.

Now we’ve crossed that finish line, and while the results weren’t what we wanted, there is still hope. And there’s still plenty of work to be done.

The ideal is to have politicians in place to achieve our goals of a more equitable and fair Pennsylvania for all. But it’s not a requirement. Many, if not most, of the political shifts we’ve seen – women voting, civil rights, LGBTQ+ marriage – have been led by ordinary people, not by politicians.

So I encourage you to find like-minded individuals and work in ways both big and small to build the future we want to see. 

And please, for the love of God, read the science and wear a mask.

Thank you all.

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.

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.

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.

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

Express Donate: $2

Express Donate: $5

Express Donate: $10

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Wearing is Caring

During my lifetime, I have seen our country shift to an “us versus them“ mentality. For example, Americans are either conservative or they’re liberal. The idea that over 300 million people fit neatly into an either/or category might be laughable, if not for the very visible results of this kind of thinking.

Don’t misunderstand me, there are real differences in ideological viewpoints and approaches to politics.

But I still believe that we can overcome those differences and be the best versions of ourselves, especially in times of crisis. When we focus on doing the work to ensure the survival of our community, we can transcend – however briefly – those disagreements that otherwise consume us.

When my wife was pregnant with our oldest son, we were driving home on the turnpike late one night. I noticed the truck in front of me slowing down, so I slowed down, and fortunately so. A car had crashed in the middle of the road, turned so it was facing oncoming traffic.

We – the truck driver, me and my wife, and another car behind us – all pulled over. We didn’t ask each other if we were conservatives or liberal. We didn’t tell the older couple in the car that we empathized with them, but they knew the risks of driving and were now on their own.
We started helping the people in the car, alerting oncoming traffic, and calling for help.

We got the couple out of the car and over to the grassy bank beside the road. Minutes later, another truck came along and smashed head on into their (now thankfully empty) car.

Soon enough the police arrived and took over the scene, and we all went our separate ways. But in those few moments we were collaborating, not for any personal gain, but because that’s what human beings should do for their fellow humans.

My father, for most of my childhood, was a pastor. There’s a story in the Bible about a lawyer asking Jesus how to get into heaven. Part of the answer is “love your neighbor as yourself.” So, of course, the follow up question is, “Who is my neighbor?” The answer, told in the parable of the Good Samaritan, is this: every human being is your neighbor.

We find ourselves locked in a debate over wearing masks. There are all kinds of scientifically-based medical arguments for doing so. Much of the debate stems from being told what to do, something none of us really like. But when a mother implores people to wear one, for the sake of her immunocompromised daughter and others like her, what should our response be? That we didn’t sign up to take on responsibility for others? That we’re not going to live in fear, and if that means disregarding the needs of our most vulnerable, so be it?

Or could it be that wearing a properly designed mask, in the proper manner, truly is loving our neighbor as ourself?

I believe it is, and I wear a mask (plus wash my hands and, when possible, stay at least six feet away) to protect you. It’s the least I can do for my neighbors.

Racism in America

Last weekend, I wrote up some questions to ask for my next Midday with Matt video chat. The topic was race relations in the United States. On my mind were the recent stories of Ahmaud Arbery, murdered by two armed white men while jogging in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor, an EMT who was shot in her bed by police in Kentucky (they were trying to apprehend a suspect who didn’t live there and who, it was later revealed, was already in custody when the raid occurred).

Within 48 hours, when the panel convened, the news of George Floyd was just coming out. Juxtapose the initial reports of his death with the video that emerged. As one of my guests, Kenny, pointed out during our talk, now that most people have video cameras in their pockets, at least we can catch some of these bad actors. But over the years how many went unnoticed? What happens when there is nobody around to record?

The statistics are clear: our country’s law enforcement and legal systems have a race issue. Black people are drastically overrepresented, compared to the general population statistics. It’s unacceptable and we need to do something about it.

No, not every cop is a bad one–but when a Black person calls the police, or has the police called on them, how do they know who’s going to respond? Racism is designed into the system itself. So, we need to speak up and work together to change the system.

And finally, I know some people will ask: But what about the riots? Surely those aren’t right? I firmly support the right to protest. I don’t agree with violence or looting. But that includes violence by the police against protestors. And it’s also part of my privilege as a White person. I will never fully understand what it’s like to be a Black person in America. What I can imagine is bad enough. But I can also stop imagining and just go back to my daily life. I’ve noticed that many of the same people decrying the current protests also derided Colin Kaepernick for peacefully taking a knee to try to bring attention to the same issue.

If we address and resolve the problem of racism, there will be no need for protests. And if there are no protests, there will be no rioting or looting. Recently, I’ve noticed White people voicing negative attitudes toward police because they are enforcing rules that prohibit us from getting haircuts or eating in at restaurants. So anger and outrage over the extrajudicial murder of one of our fellow human beings shouldn’t be so hard to comprehend.

One thing that can help is conversations with people who have different perspectives than we do. In that spirit, I offer this discussion with some of my friends who were kind enough to chat with me about their lived experiences.

Midday with Matt – Race Relations Part 1

The COVID-19 Crisis

Recently somebody asked me what I would be doing as a state rep during this pandemic. Here was my response:

I would focus on these things: first, doing whatever I could to help our state secure the equipment and supplies our medical professionals need, from ventilators to personal protective equipment to testing kits.

I would also be communicating science-based facts about the virus to my constituents and sharing county- and state-level data in ways that could easily be understood, with the hope that doing so would help people understand the importance of following the guidelines for minimizing the spread of the coronavirus.

I would be helping those who are unemployed to navigate the unemployment system, and work to create opportunities to support both workers and businesses to help them survive this economic shock.

I would also be working to help people in need get access to food/shelter, and to create ways for those who cannot pay their rent or mortgages to have options that would let them keep their housing.