ICYMI: The Philadelphia Inquirer Details Governor Josh Shapiro’s “Common Ground Approach” and Commitment to Bringing People Together
April 17, 2023
“My focus is more on finding ways to bring people together and find that common ground, while staying true to your principles.”
HARRISBURG, PA – In a feature story on Sunday, The Philadelphia Inquirer highlighted how Governor Josh Shapiro has prioritized taking a “common ground approach” to working with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to deliver real results for Pennsylvania.
As we approach the Shapiro Administration’s 100th day in office, Governor Shapiro has remained focused on bringing people together around solutions to the most pressing issues facing our Commonwealth. From responding to the avian flu crisis and holding Norfolk Southern accountable in response to their train derailment in East Palestine, to traveling across Pennsylvania highlighting his commonsense budget proposal, Governor Shapiro has once again shown a real commitment to bringing people together to get things done.
“I expected Gov. Shapiro to do well, and he’s probably exceeded my expectations already. Governor Shapiro’s style and tone are on target with what the governor’s office should do,” Republican Rep. Jim Marshall told the Inquirer.
Republican Sen. Scott Martin, who recently joined Governor Shapiro and met with farmers to discuss the avian flu crisis, said, “You need a new leadership style or willingness to potentially compromise on certain issues. I see a lot of hope. On all these topics, I think there’s definitely an appetite from what I’ve seen from all parties, to really engage in the discussion, trying to find common ground.”
Read this new reporting here and see key excerpts below.
The Philadelphia Inquirer: How is Josh Shapiro leading Pa.? A look at his ‘common ground’ approach in one of the nation’s most politically divided states
On an unusually warm morning in late March, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro’s convoy of black SUVs followed a winding gravel road down to a ninth-generation family farm in Lancaster County.
He had a message to deliver, in concert with top Republican lawmaker Sen. Scott Martin, who also ran for governor last year, about how the state is responding to one of the worst avian flus in decades. One of the most conservative lawmakers in the state House, Rep. David Zimmerman, joined them.
“This is how government is supposed to work,” Shapiro said, standing in front of a small tractor and a few stacked hay bales while a few cows grazed on the early spring grass nearby. […]
The Inquirer spoke with some of Shapiro’s current and former colleagues for this portrait of the governor, as he tries to bring one of the nation’s most populous states — and the most politically divided — to a new future.
Across political parties, those who have worked with Shapiro over his career describe him as someone who at his core wants to solve problems and find common ground.
“If you try to romanticize it, when you look up in the sky and see a billion stars up there, [Shapiro has] always been the one who’s been able to connect them,” said Lee Soltysiak, the chief operating officer of Montgomery County, who first worked with Shapiro in former U.S. Rep. Joe Hoeffel’s office. […]
Another core view for Shapiro: He views Pennsylvania’s residents as customers — and believes that state government should respond to residents’ needs, Soltysiak said.
“Those small, early wins in identifying things that should be better, showing your team and our constituents that government can change for the better — that’s a credibility that gives you the traction to climb your way up the ladder to the harder-to-change issues,” Soltysiak added.
Shapiro’s administration includes a Republican legislative liaison and a Republican nominee for secretary of state. In his first executive action as governor, Shapiro removed college degree requirements for most state government jobs, pleasing the state’s business community and Republican lawmakers. Olive branch, after olive branch.
As he travels the state, he invites local lawmakers, no matter their party. For example, when Shapiro appeared with Gov. Phil Murphy in Northeast Philadelphia last week, Rep. Martina White (R., Philadelphia) attended the event. […]
Just two weeks into his administration, Shapiro got his first 3 a.m. call.
A train carrying toxic chemicals had derailed in Ohio, just near the Pennsylvania border. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection called to alert him of the derailment, which included one car filled with vinyl chloride.
That one car turned into 11.
And that dangerous toxic chemical turned into multiple hazardous materials that mixed together — eventually requiring some residents in Beaver County to evacuate while the rail company slowly released the toxins into the air to prevent an explosion.
Shapiro has since been working on a unified response with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, taking calls from President Joe Biden and being “focused like a laser beam” on residents of Western Beaver County. […]
“We were tested; I was tested as a governor,” Shapiro told The Inquirer in February, just after he got back from visiting the crash site.
Shapiro spent most of his time as state attorney general pursuing corporations taking advantage of Pennsylvania residents. Now he’s using his background as the state’s top prosecutor to make demands of rail company Norfolk Southern. So far, the administration has collected $7 million for the area — what Shapiro called a starting point.
Since the derailment, the Shapiro administration has been attentive and helpful to those affected, said state Rep. Jim Marshall (R., Beaver), who represents the area.
“I expected Gov. Shapiro to do well, and he’s probably exceeded my expectations already,” he said. “Governor Shapiro’s style and tone are on target with what the governor’s office should do.”
Marshall told Shapiro that first responders needed more equipment, and that Darlington Township residents didn’t want to have to go to Ohio to receive services. He’s been able to text Shapiro’s legislative liaison, former Republican Rep. Mike Vereb, to get the area’s resource center open longer.
“And he did it,” Marshall said. […]
“On all these topics, I think there’s definitely an appetite from what I’ve seen from all parties, to really engage in the discussion, trying to find common ground,” Martin added. […]
“My focus is more on finding ways to bring people together and find that common ground, while staying true to your principles,” Shapiro added.