Councilwoman Diaz announces run for 13th state Senate district

Lancaster City Councilwoman Janet Diaz announced her bid for state Senate on Saturday.

Diaz is running as a Democrat in the 13th senatorial district, which Republican Sen. Scott Martin currently represents. Her announcement comes especially early, since the primary election to be the Democratic candidate isn’t until April 2020.

Martin, a former county commissioner in his first term as a senator, won the seat in 2016 by 18,000 votes over Democrat and current Court of Common Pleas candidate Gregory Paulson.

As a Latina woman in an area with many minority communities, Diaz said she is running to “pave the path for those behind me who wish to run.”

At her campaign announcement on Saturday at popcorn and soda store The Pop’d Shop on N. Queen Street, Diaz noted increasing the minimum wage, health care benefits and available affordable housing options as some of her top campaign priorities.

Additionally, she wants to restart the state’s General Assistance program, which was repealed this year that cut off $200 payments to people unable to work.

Diaz has served on city council since 2018, and her term is not up until January 2022, according to the city website. Aside from her work on city council, Diaz works at Lancaster General Hospital as a stroke registrar and is a member of local advocacy organizations including the Latino Caucus of Lancaster County.

Martin’s office could not be immediately reached for comment on Saturday.

Diaz is a 2017 Emerge alumna, a program that coaches Democratic women to run for office. In past social media postings about her Senate run, she said Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, encouraged her to run.

“We need to reach out to also the Republicans, because it’s all of us that are being affected when it comes to health care, all of us being affected when it comes to low wages,” Diaz said of running in a largely Republican district. “It’s not just one party. Every human being deserves a right of health care, living affordably and being able to feed themselves.”