Former national LGBT chamber exec running for Pennsylvania House seat covering parts of Philadelphia

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal

April 19, 2021

Jonathan Lovitz, a former senior vice president at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, said on Monday he is running for a Pennsylvania House seat in the 182nd District encompassing parts of Center City in Philadelphia.

Lovitz, a Democrat, told the Philadelphia Business Journal he will take an economic recovery-first approach to his campaign, with a focus on revitalizing small businesses. If victorious next year, Lovitz said he will advocate in Harrisburg for policies like providing tax credits and incentives for businesses.

“Especially after Covid, our future in Philadelphia, particularly Center City Philadelphia, has to be led by the economic recovery first,” said Lovitz, a former Broadway actor. “That’s how we’re going to be able to solve all the other systemic problems that have gotten us where we are, and I think this is the moment that needs a business-centric community organizer to be the face of the change that we need coming up.”

The 182nd District of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives encompasses parts of Rittenhouse Square, Fitler Square, Midtown Village/Gayborhood, Bella Vista and Fairmount. Brian Sims currently represents the district and recently announced a bid for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor in 2022 after Lt. Gov John Fetterman declared a run for U.S. Senate.

Sims and Lovitz, 36, are longtime friends and LGBTQ advocates. Lovitz, who is also an openly gay man, said it would be special to carry on a legacy of fighting for equality in the Pennsylvania Legislature and to take over the foundation Sims has built in his 10 years holding the 182nd District seat.

“We’ve had far too many glass ceilings for far too long, and I think we have a really historic opportunity, as well, for this to be the first transition from one out state rep to another,” he said.

Lovitz, an Atlantic City native, has spent the last five years living in the 182nd District. During those five years, he was senior vice president of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, or NGLCC, focusing on public policy and partnerships. He pushed policy to get LGBTQ-owned companies included in municipal diversity spending programs and also helped LGBTQ-owned businesses become certified so they could participate in diverse procurement programs. Lovitz now works with the NGLCC as an adviser.

Lovitz had previous stints with national tours of Broadway shows like “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat,” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” before getting involved with policy and business. He also helped launch PhillyVoting.org to distribute information on voter registration during the 2020 election season.

Before looking at other issues like gun control or schools, people will first be looking into how to inject capital into the local economy, Lovitz said, and it starts with using the assets Philadelphia already has. For example, he said he could advocate for tax credits for companies with larger real estate footprints that let small businesses or nonprofits use their empty office space to lower overhead costs.

Lovitz also wants to focus on removing the “red tape” that comes with businesses dealing with state and local governments. Working with companies through the NGLCC during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, Lovitz said he saw business owners confused by the Paycheck Protection Program, business certifications and tax filings. State and city governments need to invest in improving their services so new entrepreneurs can get their businesses licensed, Lovitz said.

“We need to incentivize investment back in the city,” Lovitz said. “We need to incentivize the corridors of opportunity on all of the main streets of Center City so that businesses have not just the tax breaks they need to be able to reopen, but also the training and resources from the city and the state level to cut through the bureaucracy.”

Lovitz is the only Pennsylvania House candidate so far in the 182nd District.