Attorney Jesse White, 37, of Cecil Township today announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the 46th Legislative District in the State House of Representatives. White held the seat for four terms. He was defeated in 2014 by Republican Jason Ortitay, a purveyor of cheesecakes.
“The residents of the 46th District deserve a state representative who actually understands what it means to serve the people, not the corporate masters who write the campaign checks,” said White, referencing the staggering $400,000 spent by special interests on attack ads against him in 2014. “Jason Ortitay actually introduced legislation to give huge tax cuts to corporations while schools in the 46th District were so underfunded they were about to close. If that doesn’t show how tone deaf Jason is to the people he’s supposed to represent, I don’t know what does.”
White credits his wife, Eileen, for encouraging him to run.
“Our two sons are just a few short years away from starting school, and as a parent I have real concerns over what our schools will look like if the Legislature continues to cut education funding,” she said. “I told Jesse he was in a unique position to do something by fighting to give not only our kids, but kids across Pennsylvania, the education they deserve.”
White has vowed to tell voters what they need to know to make an informed choice on Election Day, even if it isn’t always politically popular.
“I have no problem speaking truth to power, nor do I have a problem speaking truth to stupidity and one thing I learned during my eight years in the Legislature is that the two often go hand in hand in the halls of the State Capitol,” White said. “The fact we are in the middle of the longest budget impasse in the history of Pennsylvania proves the Legislature needs a strong dose of common sense from people who actually understand the problems real people are facing.”
After a 2014 campaign virtually devoid of any issue-based debate, White is determined to keep the focus on the issues. One of his proposals is to hold a debate in each of the 13 municipalities that compose the 46th District so voters can see beyond the endless parade of negative mailers and television ads.
“Let’s start now, so everyone can see who is a serious candidate and who is an empty suit,” White said. “Anyone who isn’t willing to debate ideas in a spirited yet respectful way doesn’t deserve a single vote on Election Day.”
White says he intends to hold Ortitay accountable for his failure to pass a state budget, which caused area school districts to nearly close their doors and increase property taxes.
He also intends to demands answers about the questions dogging Ortitay about his decision in 2013 to move in with an older female family friend in Burgettstown for a week, during which time he changed his voter registration but none of his other information.
“Somehow it’s gotten lost in the shuffle that Jason Ortitay is under active investigation by the PA Attorney General’s office for allegations of lying under penalty of perjury,” White said.
White added that time has shown that the “blatant lies told about me in 2014 simply weren’t true, and the public sees that.”
“From citing newspaper articles that didn’t exist to lying to the public about actual votes that I cast in the Legislature to biased media outlets labeling me a criminal to trying to strip me of my law license to things too disgusting to describe, I have been put through the crucible and emerged with my integrity and my reputation intact,” the 2012 PA Humane Legislator said.
White pointed to a recent decision by the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board dismissing a high-profile attempt by his political adversaries to discredit him over the use of pseudonyms on various websites as proof positive that the attacks against him were nothing more than political in nature.
The candidate vows history won’t repeat itself this time around.
“I already have pending lawsuits for defamation from the last campaign, so if they try to tell the same lies again, they’ll just end up making me a millionaire from the lawsuits,” White said. “If that’s the way they want to play, it’s their choice. Their goal was to bankrupt me the first time around, and they managed to succeed. The focus needs to be on what’s best for the district. It’s not about me, and it’s not about a small group of bullies who believe they should get their way because they have the shrillest voice in the room.”
White stressed an emphasis on returning to the same issues he championed during his first stint in the Legislature – including property tax reform, providing infrastructure to communities, small business development and tackling the inequality of the property tax reassessment process.
In 2013, Jesse White reached across the aisle and worked with both Democrats and Republicans to reform the way property tax reassessments are conducted in Pennsylvania. The measure was signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett.
He also wants to continue his efforts to combat the heroin epidemic in the region, noting that his own family has seen the negative impacts of drug abuse, as well as mental illness.
“A good legislator needs to be a problem solver, and sometimes that means standing up to your own leadership to advocate for your district,” the former lawmaker said. “I learned the powers that be on both sides of the aisle don’t necessarily like someone rocking the boat, but sometimes that’s what we’re elected to do. We’re advocates, not lemmings. If you don’t stand up for your district, who will?”
Jesse White and his wife Eileen live in Cecil Township with their sons Atticus and Augustus, their dogs Abigail and Delano and two cats who take great joy in making Jesse’s life miserable. A graduate of Washington & Jefferson College and Duquesne University School of Law, Jesse operates his own law firm in the heart of McDonald Borough.
During his tenure in Harrisburg, he served on the Judiciary, Labor and Industry, Aging and Older Adult Services and Consumer Affairs Committees, and also as vice-chairman of the Southwest Democratic Caucus.
The 46th Legislative District includes Bridgeville, Collier, Heidelberg, Oakdale and South Fayette Townships in Allegheny County and Burgettstown, Canton, Cecil, McDonald, Midway, Mt. Pleasant, Robinson and Smith Townships in Washington County. For more information about Jesse White and the campaign, please visit www.supportjesse.com or visit www.facebook.com/supportjesse.Scridb filter