The 114th House District candidates debate abortion, guns and other issues

Oct. 20 – SCRANTON – Candidates for the seat in the state’s 114th House of Representatives split Wednesday on abortion, gun control and other important issues.

Incumbent Democratic State Assemblyman Bridget Malloy Kosierowski, 50, of Waverly Twp., and Republican challenger David Burgerhoff, 49, of Scranton, sometimes fought but occasionally found common ground during a debate hosted by the League of Women Voters of Lackawanna County and University was hosted by the Scranton Center for Ethics and Excellence in Public Service. It took place at the university’s Loyola Science Center.

Kosierowski has represented the 114th District since 2019 — when she won a special election to fill the remainder of the late State Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich’s term — and won re-election to a full term in 2020. Burgerhoff, a self-employed handyman who lost a 2016 race for the 113th House Circuit seat, is hoping to unseat the incumbent.

On the subject of abortion, presenter JoyAnna Hopper, Ph.D., asked both candidates which laws regarding a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy they would support or oppose.

Kosierowski, a longtime nurse before entering politics, said she will always vote to protect a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body.

“The government does not belong in the room that makes this decision,” she said.

Burgerhoff argued that the father and the unborn child should be considered in such a situation and said there are ways to avoid pregnancy, including abstinence and contraception. When contraception fails, he said, “you took a risk and now you have to deal with the consequences,” noting that women should see it as a blessing, not a negative.

Regarding the policy, Burgerhoff said Wednesday he supports restricting access to abortions after 16 weeks of pregnancy. He recently said he supports exceptions for rape, incest and when the mother’s life is in danger.

“If we don’t become a moral society, I think we can at least have moral laws,” he said.

When asked what legal reforms, if any, he would support to increase firearms regulation, Burgerhoff described himself as a “big constitutionalist,” essentially saying he opposed further restrictions on high-capacity magazines and the types of guns that the people are allowed to own. He called for responsible gun ownership and encouraged the use of safes and trigger locks.

“I talk about gun management, and any responsible gun owner resents anyone who doesn’t,” he said.

Demanding pragmatic solutions, Kosierowski said gun safety can be achieved while protecting the 2nd Amendment. She advocated more extensive background checks and restricting access to firearms for people with serious mental illnesses or histories of domestic violence, as well as restrictions on certain types of guns.

“I think most people would be happy with some kind of legislation that doesn’t allow people to buy guns that are … made for combat and large amounts of ammunition,” she said.

Both candidates support mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms. It was one of several areas on which they agreed, including opening up the primary to independent voters and ending automatic cost-of-living increases for lawmakers.

The 114th Ward consists of parts of Scranton; Benton, Greenfield, North Abington, Scott, South Abington and Waverly Townships; and the counties of Clarks Green, Clarks Summit and Dickson City. State representatives serve two-year terms and earn $95,432.14 this year.

Contact the author: [email protected]; 570-348-9141; @jhorvathTT on Twitter.

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