Brian Munroe makes history in Pennsylvania’s 144th Precinct

Democratic state elect Brian Munroe has a unique opportunity that no other Democrat has had in over half a century. Pennsylvania’s 144th District, under Republican control since at least 1968, turned blue in the November midterm elections.

According to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives archives, in about 55 years no Democrat has ever represented the district.

“It’s an honor to be sent to Harrisburg by my neighbors from Warminster, Warrington, Ivyland and New Britain,” Munroe said.

It’s more than an honor, it’s also a major political achievement given the seat’s history.

Republican Benjamin H. Wilson held the seat for 19 years beginning in the late 1960s and was succeeded by four other Republicans, including his wife Jean, who held the seat for two terms after his death.

During the campaign, Munroe said he knocked on more than 10,000 doors, citing the many conversations he had with residents in the borough.

“The one that really stood out emotionally was when I was talking to a husband and wife,” Munroe said. “The husband had just been diagnosed with cancer and was about to undergo chemotherapy. The fear and the weight weighed on his face and shoulders. When he told me a little about what he was going through, I immediately recognized the nature of the chemotherapy. It was the same one I went through.”

Munroe related his story and saw a certain relief spread across the man’s face.

It didn’t matter if the household was Democrat or Republican, there were concerns about what would happen if Republicans were allowed to remain in power, he said.

The ability to build relationships seems to have made all the difference when it came to addressing ongoing and emerging concerns.

Republicans, however, took a different approach. They avoided talks about reproductive health and climate change. They instead chose to hit the fear button and focused on crime, a claim that — at least in this race — fell flat.

Munroe, the current Bucks County Clerk of the Court, was able to push back and find that crime in the county or district has not increased.

Data from the court showed a dramatic drop in crime, with 2022 being one of the lowest crime counts in Bucks County on record since 2005.

“Bucks County Criminal Court data speaks for itself,” Munroe said, noting that all misdemeanor cases and above are reported to the county.

One of the key issues Munroe wants to address is PFAS water pollution in the district.

READ: Bucks County at the heart of the fight for our environment

In 1989, the Naval Air Development Center at Warminster was placed on the National Priorities List because of eight disposal sites threatening groundwater quality. The Navy is conducting five-year remedial action reviews, which will be conducted with the next assessment scheduled for 2026.

This threat remains an issue and is currently being addressed in part through the contracted purchase of water from the North Wales Water Authority. These costs are passed on to the customers.

How does Munroe envision the solution to this ongoing environmental catastrophe?

“Simply put, money. At Warminster alone, 19 wells are currently offline due to contamination. $20 million would allow resin filtration systems to be put in place to reclaim these wells and provide us with clean drinking water with the infrastructure we own,” he said.

“Warrington has the same problem, which would require a similar investment,” Munroe added.

Passing legislation to increase the state minimum wage is another of Munroe’s priorities.

“Pennsylvania’s Republican legislature has refused to pay Pennsylvania residents a living wage, leaving Pennsylvania with the lowest minimum wage of any of its neighbors,” he said. “That needs to change. I fully support raising the minimum wage. I also support reforming the laws governing how some waitstaff are paid like waiters so they are less dependent on tips.”

Statistics from the Pennsylvania State Department show that Munroe won the election by just over 500 votes, and while it wasn’t a landslide, his win reveals two things: Pennsylvanians are unhappy with the way Republicans are governing , and Democrats now have a chance to show voters what they can do.

“To be in that Capitol Building and all the history connected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is breathtaking,” Munroe remarked of his recent trip to Harrisburg for freshman orientation.

The midterm election winners will take office on December 1, and Munroe, along with other Democrats who have switched seats, will begin to continue this story.