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Senator Christine M. Tartaglione: Answering the call for service

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. Senator Christine M. Tartaglione official portrait. (Photo: supplied)

Born in 1960 in Philadelphia, “Tina” (as she is known to those influenced by her office) is not an outsider to Philadelphia politics. Christine M. Tartaglione is Pennsylvania’s 2nd state senatorNL District, and she recently spoke with Impacto as she reflected on her nearly three decades of public service.

The senator’s mother, raised by parents Eugene and Margaret (Marge) Tartaglione, herself had a long legacy in Philadelphia city politics. Marge Tartaglione served as Philadelphia city commissioner from the 1970s until she lost the race for re-election in 2011. Tartaglione’s mother died in 2019 at the age of 86, succumbing to respiratory problems. After watching her mother dedicate so many years of her life to public service, Senator Tartaglione would also build her own legacy in public service.

In 1994, Christine Tartaglione won election to the Pennsylvania Senate, only the fifth woman to serve in that role at the time. With her mother Marge as a role model in her life, Senator Tartaglione worked to rise up in her party in Harrisburg. In 1995, Tartaglione was elected vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, and between 1998 and 2002 he was promoted to party chairman. 2003 would be a difficult year for Tartaglione.

Senator Christine M. Tartaglione official portrait. (Photo: supplied)

A boating accident left a spinal cord injury and gave Senator Tartaglione the distinction of being the only state senator in Pennsylvania in a wheelchair. In November 2022, Senator Tartaglione was elected among her Democratic colleagues in the Senate as not only the first woman, but also the first person with a disability to become the Democratic Whip.

Regardless of Senator Tartaglione’s political background, her personal experiences have shed light on the struggles of people with disabilities.

As a state senator, she has advocated for the rights of working people, people with disabilities, and other groups, including immigrants, who have been marginalized in society. “I was elected in 1994… It took me from 1995 to 2006 to change the minimum wage.”

In 2006, Senator Tartaglione achieved a historic milestone by passing her bill SB 1090, which increased the minimum wage in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from $5.15 per hour to $7.15 per hour, signed by Governor Ed Rendell. Most recently, Senator Tartaglione introduced a bill SB 1186 in late May 2024, which, if signed into law, would increase the minimum wage in Pennsylvania to a living wage of $20 per hour. As part of her case, Tartaglione argues that “every state around us, including West Virginia, their minimum wage is $15 an hour.”

Senator Tartaglione is well known in her district. In her interview, she makes the point that every year she has served as a state senator, there has been at least one person of Hispanic descent working for her office (Tartaglione is retiring at age 30e years in office, elected in November 1994). In 2022, during the final year of the Wolf administration, Tartaglione was honored by the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs. During Hispanic Heritage Month, this committee awarded Senator Tartaglione the honor of the Community Lifetime Service Award. Senator Tartaglione prides herself on building deep relationships with her district’s Hispanic members and elected officials, always leaving an open door for anyone willing to contact her or her office.

Senator Christine M. Tartaglione attends a rally in support of teachers. (Photo: supplied)

Only recently did Tartaglione publicize her battle with alcohol addiction. “I am very passionate about drug and alcohol issues and have been sober for 21 years…I understand a lot about addiction.” The Pennsylvania Senate has passed Senator Tartaglione’s bill SB 165, which would ban safe injection sites in Pennsylvania. Senator Tartaglione spoke after the bill passed: “…Today’s vote shows that no matter how rural or urban, liberal or conservative, or far east or far west your district is, addiction affects every square inch of Pennsylvania, and we must prioritize recovery and sobriety.”

Senator Tartaglione explained that in her district, two mobile suboxone units operate on a rotating schedule along different corners of city blocks. These two suboxone units are accompanied by a mobile methadone and xylazine unit that can respond quickly to any crisis. “We did the mobile units before anyone else did,” she says. Recently, Senator Tartaglione advocated for mobile health units in the city of Philadelphia that could quickly respond to drug-related medical emergencies.

Senator Christine Tartaglione’s career spans a long record of service in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.NL Neighbourhood. During that career, Tartaglione has advocated for the rights of people with disabilities, the economically marginalized, immigrants, addicts and people in recovery, and all others left behind by society.

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