Jonathan D. Lovitz, a Democrat and a political activist for LGBTQ causes, announced his candidacy for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives on April 19.
Lovitz seeks to represent the 182nd PA House district, an area that encompasses a sizable chunk of Center City. He said that the “constant state of growth” in the area could “teach a lot of lessons” to lawmakers and business communities across Pennsylvania.
“This is personal to me. I’ve got skin in this game because I live here,” Lovitz said. “I pay taxes here, and I want to see this part of the city succeed, because this is such a beacon and role model to the rest of the commonwealth about how communities and business can coexist side by side and grow together.”
Democrat Brian Sims has represented the 182nd district since 2013, but he announced in February that he would leave the office to run for lieutenant governor. Sims was the first openly gay legislator at the state level in the history of Pennsylvania.
The race to replace him offers a “historic opportunity,” Lovitz told the Washington Blade.
Lovitz, 36, grew up in the Atlantic City area, and spent his childhood between the Jersey shore and South Florida. Lovitz graduated from the University of Florida in 2006 with a bachelor’s in fine arts in performance, and spent most of the next 10 years in New York City, acting, performing and hosting. He was part of national touring productions of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” performed in several MTV productions and did work for various media and communications companies.
Though it was not yet the basis of his career, political advocacy was already a part of Lovitz’s life.
At Florida, he started organizing on behalf of the John Kerry campaign, and learned more about forming political relationships through his campus Hillel.
In 2010, Lovitz began to work as a vocal, visible advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ community. He addressed crowds and led workshops related to LGBTQ community issues for major national organizations like The Trevor Project and GLAAD and, within a few years, Lovitz was leading StartOut, a nonprofit that sought to provide opportunity to LGBT entrepreneurs. Lovitz’s skills as a communicator did not go unnoticed, and he was soon on board with both the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce New York and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
“I learned what I stand for early, and I love that this journey I’m on keeps adding more color to that experience,” Lovitz said. That journey brought Lovitz and his husband, Steve Sosna, a meteorologist for NBC10, to Philadelphia, where they’ve lived for the last five years.
“I love the intersection of diversity and scrappiness that is part of every office here,” Lovitz said.
So what does he stand for?
With the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Lovitz worked to expand protections from discrimination and economic opportunity for LGBTQ people across the country, and his vision for the future of Center City takes that sensibility — “pro-economy, pro-equity, pro-solutions,” his campaign announcement read — and aims to move the ball forward.
Lovitz promises to promote funding for the arts in Harrisburg, and to continue to support gun violence prevention through legislation. He cites Ed Rendell, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Gov. Tom Wolf as models for him politically and temperamentally, citing their skills as coalition builders as being of special interest to him.
Lovitz said he is committed to the preservation of racially inclusive, strong, democratic institutions; prior to last fall’s elections, he founded PhillyVoting.org, a voter registration and information initiative that registered new voters during that cycle. Bringing more people into the democratic process, especially younger people, will be a key initiative.
“They’re about people and service and engagement,” Lovitz said of his past projects. “I love that.”
[email protected]; 215-832-0740