HARRISBURG -- Members of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Caucus today elected leaders for the upcoming 2013-14 legislative session, with Sen. Jay Costa, of Homestead, reelected for a second term as Democratic Leader.
Today‚??s leadership elections were held nearly one week after Democrats gained three seats in last week‚??s General Election, strengthening the caucus to 23 members.
‚??I am grateful and honored by the support of my colleagues and humbled by the trust they have placed in me to lead them forward,‚?Ě Costa said. ‚??Our momentum has never been stronger and the caucus more unified in facing the challenges in front of us.
‚??As we welcome three new members and welcome back caucus members who are already serving Pennsylvania, we look forward to next session with renewed energy and optimism for the future.‚?Ě
Prior to being elected Democratic Leader by his colleagues, Costa served as Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was first elected to the Senate in 1996 and previously served as Allegheny County Register of Wills (1992-96) and Deputy Sheriff (1984-89).
Other Democratic senators elected to leadership today were:
Sen. Anthony Williams of Philadelphia was reelected Senate Democratic whip. Williams joined the Senate in 1998. He began his career in public service at the age of 31, first winning office as a state representative.
‚??As caucus members and Pennsylvania residents, we recognize the depth and breadth of the issues facing us during the next legislative session,‚?Ě Williams said. ‚??I look forward to having meaningful discussions with my colleagues and bringing members together as we work towards solutions that will move Pennsylvania forward.‚?Ě
Sen. Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia was again elected Senate Democratic Appropriations Committee chair. Hughes has served in the state legislature since 1987. He was elected to the Senate in 1994 and also previously served as Democratic Caucus chairman.
‚??We‚??ve worked hard over the last two years to make progress and deliver positive results amid a challenging political landscape,‚?Ě Hughes said. ‚??With increased strength in the caucus, we can continue to focus on job creation and finding solutions to education funding issues that will help Pennsylvania families and their children.‚?Ě
Sen. Richard Kasunic of Dunbar Township was reelected caucus chairman. Kasunic was elected to the Senate in November 1994 but also served as a member of the state House of Representatives.
‚??Working with the members of the caucus we‚??ll continue to address the issues that are impacting the lives of families and business owners,‚?Ě Kasunic said. ‚??In the next session, Senate Democrats will remain focused on improving the lives of working Pennsylvanians and paving a solid, sustainable path for the next generation.‚?Ě
Sen. Christine Tartaglione of Philadelphia will again serve as Democratic Caucus secretary. She was elected to the Senate in 1994. Prior to her election to the Senate, the Philadelphia Democrat served as business representative for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
‚??We‚??re energized moving into next session,‚?Ě Tartaglione said. ‚??With the gain of three additional members, our voice will be stronger as we work together on the programs and initiatives that will help grow jobs and increase training opportunities for working Pennsylvanians.‚?Ě
Sen. Lisa Boscola of Bethlehem Township was reelected to the leadership team as Democratic Policy Committee chair. Boscola was first elected to the state House in 1994. She was elected to the Senate in 1998.
Boscola‚??s Democratic Policy Committee has been very active during the last session, holding public hearings on a wide range of issues in many locales across Pennsylvania.
Boscola said that she is ‚??looking forward to next session because we can continue concentrating our efforts on making Pennsylvania a place where families and businesses alike come to grow and thrive for years to come. ‚??
Sen. Wayne Fontana of Pittsburgh is also returning as a member of the Senate Democratic Leadership. Fontana will serve as Caucus administrator for the 2013-14 session.
Fontana was first elected to the Senate in a special election in May 2005 and was reelected to full terms in 2006 and 2010.
‚??We have a great many challenges that we must meet in the upcoming session and I am pleased to be in a leadership position with the caucus,‚?Ě Fontana said. ‚??We have to work hard to ensure that priorities such as job creation, education and environmental protection are addressed.
‚??We need to have focus and be prepared to move aggressively in solving problems and we can do that if we work hard and look for common ground.‚?Ě
Sen. Jim Ferlo of Pittsburgh will also be returning as vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Ferlo was first elected to the Senate in 2002 and is a former Pittsburgh City Council member.
‚??I am happy to welcome three new members to the Senate Democratic Caucus and I congratulate my leadership team for their reelection for the next session,‚?Ě Ferlo said.
The new session of the General Assembly begins in January.