Liv Bennett has experienced poverty, single-motherhood, and mental health issues firsthand. It is through these hardships that her worldview to create a more equitable society, starting right here in Allegheny County, began.
We must keep Pittsburgh affordable for everyone! We need to use every tool available to tackle this problem, including fresh ideas like community land trusts. Liv plans to address this issue by working with both the private sector and nonprofit agencies, with an emphasis on protecting and preserving public goods. Together, we can fight back to keep our area truly affordable for all.
Universal Health Care
Liv will support any move by the city or county to provide residents with Universal Health Care. Liv believes that no one should have to go without health care and that it is a basic right. Providing all citizens with health care would ultimately lower the costs of healthcare as preventative care is a much lower cost than emergency care. If folks are able to catch potential diseases or illnesses early, the cost of treatment will be much less than if discovered at a later time. In this way, Universal Health Care is a win for us all.
Paid Sick Days
Liv will support any legislation by the city or county that mandates paid sick days. No worker should have to work while ill due to not being paid for taking the necessary time off to get well. This would also lessen the spread of illnesses: if people are paid for their sick time then they would not feel pressured to work while sick, thus keeping people at home during their contagious periods.
Mental Health Accessibility
Mental health resources often take people from crisis to crisis instead of maintaining stability through comprehensive mental health treatment and services. We need to invest in reducing barriers to treatment by removing roadblocks like missed appointments, high costs, and understaffed programs. We must expand access to ongoing mental health treatment. Liv knows firsthand the benefits of receiving quality mental health treatment, and as a County Council member, would advocate for quality mental health treatment for everyone.
Allegheny County Citizens Police Review Board
In July of 2018, Allegheny County Council narrowly passed an ordinance to begin the process of creating a county-wide police citizens' review board. This was in response to the shooting death of Antwon Rose II at the hands of Officer Rosfeld. Liv will be a strong advocate to push this initiative forward. Seeing this policy through to completion is critical in giving voice to the people and holding law enforcement accountable for misconduct. She will work to expand the reach of this initiative and encourage municipalities to participate.
Allegheny County Jail Reform
Liv believes strongly in improving the conditions of the Allegheny County Jail and better treatment of incarcerated people. The jail should not keep incarcerated folks on lockdown 23 hours per day, isolating them in their cells for meals, running out of basic necessities like toilet paper, or offering inadequate or untimely healthcare.
Liv stands with the transgender community in demanding that transgender incarcerated people be housed in a separate unit. Currently, transgender incarcerated people are housed with their assigned gender at birth, which leads to many transgender incarcerated folks being sexually assaulted by other incarcerated people and/or guards. As a County Council member, Liv will fight for the humane treatment of those housed at the Allegheny County Jail.
Liv would also demand better accountability of guards who have assaulted incarcerated people. Many guards who have sexually assaulted incarcerated people are still working in the jail and have not been fired. If elected, Liv would look at the current reporting processes for rape and strive to improve accountability and the removal of abusive guards.
Address Mass Incarceration
Liv believes we need to end cash bonds for non-violent offenders and will work to stop that in Allegheny County. No person should be held in jail simply because they cannot afford to pay bail. A person should be remanded to jail based on the level of offense that they committed, not based on their socioeconomic status. When someone is held in jail for minor offenses and cannot afford to pay bail the person may lose their job, housing, custody of children for a crime that they have not even been found guilty of committing.
Ban the Box
It is illegal for an employer to ask an applicant if he or she is married or has children. Liv believes that ex-felons should also be a protected class during the job interview process. Legislation known as "Ban the Box" has been approved and implemented for all City of Pittsburgh employees, but Liv would go a step further to make this county-wide for all employers. If we believe in giving second chances and helping ex-felons re-enter the workforce to reduce recidivism, then we must be proactive.
Expand Disability, LGBTQIA+ and Immigrant Protections
Whether we work to stop the practice of housing trans women with abusive cis men in the Allegheny County Jail; ensure queer, immigrant, disabled, or other vulnerable groups have adequate health care; improve bus line accessibility, or end predatory cash bail practices—we must work to aid the most vulnerable in our communities. Liv is committed to fighting for the most marginalized among us.
Protect the Environment
No matter where you live, you should have access to clean water and clean air. Liv supports stricter oversight and accountability for companies polluting in our county. We must be proactive in identifying the biggest violators to enforce genuine deterrents while working to develop alternative practices and pursue clean energy. Fracking especially can contaminate our water supply, putting the health of our communities at risk and should be prohibited, especially in public spaces. Pollution does not follow man-made boundary lines either, so we must work diligently with our surrounding neighbors to maintain awareness for our health and safety's sake.
Port Authority Transit
There is a lot of opportunity for work to be done on the Port Authority Transit system. Liv believes in fair fares, fare-capping and extending the East Busway to Monroeville and the Mon Valley. Fares should be the same regardless of whether someone is paying with a Connect Card or cash. Penalizing those who pay cash often hurts marginalized people the most. Fare-capping would allow Connect Card users who exceed their current plan to automatically convert to the appropriate pass type, saving riders unnecessary extra spending.
Liv will advocate for free transfers. Many riders have to catch multiple buses to reach their destinations and should not be charged for connecting routes. A person without a Connect Card having to catch multiple buses could pay up to $8.25 one way if they had to take three different Port Authority Transit services to get to their end destination.
We also need to ensure our bus routes are optimal for all residents. They should be accessible for disabled riders, which means when buses are consistently over capacity, they need to run more frequently or split routes. Bus stops need to be safe for pedestrians with adequate access by sidewalk and safe waiting areas.
The opioid crisis has hit the United States hard and Allegheny County has seen the devastating effects of the opioid epidemic. Liv would pursue policies to ensure that those who need support through recovery services are able to receive help. Also, Liv would work to see how improving mental health accessibility could lead to better outcomes in the opioid epidemic. She would strive to continue identifying those who are drug addicted and treating their disease instead of criminalizing their illness.
Government Transparency and Accountability
Liv believes that every public official works for their constituents and therefore should be transparent in the deals being made to attract new business to the county. This is also true of tax breaks and other incentives offered to developers that have a direct impact on our county and how our tax dollars are being utilized. There should not be secret information or decisions made outside of public meetings, and instead, information should be readily available for the public to understand how our tax dollars are spent.
A Living Wage
Liv supports any statewide efforts to raise the minimum wage and would pursue sponsoring or co-sponsoring county-wide living wage legislation so all workers can enjoy peace of mind that they are being payed their fair share.