Democrats won two seats in the state House after winning special elections on March 12.
In Philadelphia’s 190th District, Democrat Movita Johnson-Harrell is going to Harrisburg. With 78 of 80 precincts reporting, Johnson-Harrell won almost 67 percent of the vote, beating Amen Brown of the Amen Brown Party, Pamela Williams of the Working Families Party and Republican Michael Harvey.
Johnson-Harrell, whose son was murdered in 2011, wrote on Facebook: “My seat rests on the grave of my son Charles Johnson. I will fight to protect our communities and tackle this multilayered problem. I am honored to be the first Muslim Woman elected to the Pennsylvania legislature.”
Johnson-Harrell was a victim-services supervisor for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. She also ran a personal-care facility and founded an antiviolence nonprofit, the CHARLES Foundation. She has degrees in behavioral health from Community College of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania.
Williams, who finished third in the race, is a lesbian, community advocate, LGBTQ activist and an ordained minister known to her flock as Pastor Pamm.
The 190th District had previously elected Democrat Vanessa Lowery Brown in November, but she was unable to serve after being convicted of a bribery charge. The 190th District, mostly in West Philadelphia, includes Belmont, Carroll Park, Cathedral Park, Mill Creek, Haddington, East Parkside, West Powelton, Allegheny West and Lehigh West.
Another special state House election was held in Lackawanna County’s 114th District, with Democrat Bridget Malloy Kosierowski beating Republican Frank Scavo.
Rep. Sid Michaels Kavulich, a Democrat, had been serving the 114th District when he died in office on Oct. 16, less than a month before November’s general election. He was the only candidate on the ballot in that race.
Democrats now hold 93 seats in the House, with 11 seats gained from last year’s and this year’s election. Republicans have controlled the state House since 2011.