Race to watch: Pa. state Rep. Craig Williams looks to fend off challenger Cathy Spahr

Left: Pa. state Rep. Craig Williams (Campaign)
Right: Democratic candidate Cathy Spahr (via Spahr campaign)

Left: Pa. state Rep. Craig Williams (Campaign) Right: Democratic candidate Cathy Spahr (via Spahr campaign)

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Cathy Spahr believes Republican state Rep. Craig Williams is too “extreme” for the 160th state House district — so she’s challenging him for the seat.

“This is a purple district; it’s not hard right, red district, like where Doug Mastriano is from. And at the end of the day, Craig Williams has voted with Doug Mastriano 84% of the time. I’m just not OK with that and people have a right to know that that’s who he really is,” Spahr said.

Her campaign has created a website highlighting Williams’ voting record on issues like education, gun safety, and abortion rights.

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He voted against amending the Pennsylvania Constitution to recognize the right to an abortion prior to fetal viability. He also voted against prohibiting the sale or possession of an assault weapon for individuals under the age of 21.

Williams, who was elected to the state House in 2020, declined to make himself available for an interview.

In the last election, the Marine Corps veteran defeated a different Democratic challenger by just 610 votes.

The 160th District stretches across Delaware and Chester counties. It includes Bethel, Chadds Ford, and Concord townships, and Chester Heights Borough in Delaware County, and Birmingham, Pennsbury, and Westtown townships in Chester County. With new boundaries, Westtown Township replaces Kennett Square, which is now in the 158th District.

Spahr steps up to challenge Williams

Spahr, 49, currently works as a senior transportation planner in the Delaware County Planning Department. She is also a member of Bethel Township’s Planning Commission, which is where she currently resides.

Before that, she worked as an environmental consultant in the private sector and as a zoning administrative coordinator for Newtown Township in Delaware County. Spahr is prioritizing health care, public safety, voting rights, childcare, and climate resiliency in her campaign.

Spahr also wants to address wages, strengthen abortion rights, and support extended maternity leave.

“I am definitely an advocate for women to be able to have their personal reproductive freedoms and liberties — that we can chart our own destinies and choose when, how, and with whom, and where we’re going to start a family. And so right now that’s under attack. And so gotta be looking out to protect that privacy in our most personal decision,” Spahr said.

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Spahr said that things that she has overcome in life have shaped who she is. She considers herself more of an activist than a politician.

“The crux of what makes me who I am is that I am in long-term recovery, I’ve been sober for over 27 years and long-term recovery requires being transparent. It requires honesty and to have a pretty rigorous moral compass,” Spahr said.

Incumbent Williams focuses on funding accomplishments in campaign

Williams, 56, previously served as a federal attorney as well as a prosecutor with the Department of Justice. Prior to becoming a state legislator, he also made an unsuccessful bid for Congress against then-incumbent Joe Sestak in 2008.

In the state House, Williams has worked on several committees, including Veteran Affairs and Emergency Preparedness, Aging and Older Adult Services, and Human Services.

In a 2021 interview with the Delco Times, Williams said that his background in teaching and coaching prepared him to be a legislator. He added that he did not want “national politics” in his local office.

His priorities at the time were getting more vaccine doses to Chester and Delaware counties.

His campaign website lists the following among his accomplishments since he joined the General Assembly: addiction advocacy, increased funding for libraries and infrastructure projects, and secured money for gun prosecutors.

Williams also highlighted that he helped increase financial assistance for hospitals, nursing homes, vaccine development, and virus testing during the pandemic.

Additionally, Williams’ campaign website focuses on his response following the remnants of Hurricane Ida slamming the region a little more than a year ago.

He also considers himself a supporter of the effort to block Aqua Pennsylvania from purchasing the Chester Water Authority.

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