Lee sworn in to Pa. House of Representatives

First black woman elected from Western Pa.

HARRISBURG, Jan. 1 – State Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny, made history today as she was sworn in as the first black woman to be elected to the state House from Western Pennsylvania. As she begins representing the 34th Legislative District, Lee said she will call on her experience as a community organizer, activist, lawyer and advocate for social justice to accomplish her legislative priorities.

For Lee, those priorities include greater economic justice for working families and reforms in the areas of education, health care, energy policy and criminal justice.  

“I’m so excited to roll up my sleeves and start working for meaningful change for residents in our district,” Lee said. “It’s time for a tax structure that benefits all Pennsylvanians – not just the wealthy. We need to level the playing field, and I plan to work to make that happen.”

Another of Lee’s priorities is enacting a living wage – a move she sees as fundamental to giving hardworking families a fair chance to succeed. It’s also an important part of the House Democrats’ Plan for PA, which puts Pennsylvania’s working families first by focusing on good jobs, affordable health care, quality schools and an economy that ends corporate handouts and ensures that everyone pays their fair share.  

The 34th Legislative District includes parts of Allegheny County, including parts of Pittsburgh, the township of Wilkins, and the boroughs of Braddock, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, Churchill, Edgewood, Forest Hills, Homestead, North Braddock, Rankin, Swissvale, Turtle Creek and West Homestead.

Twenty-three other legislators are joining Lee to serve their first term as lawmakers. The net gain of at least 11 seats appears to be the largest for House Democrats since the 1974 post-Watergate election. It also includes another “first” in which Lee is proud to take part: 30 of the 93 House Democrats elected were women – the largest number ever.

Today’s swearing-in ceremony – which marks the beginning of the 2019-20 legislative session – is the 203rd session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The legislature is mandated by the state constitution to convene at noon on the first Tuesday of January each year.