Joshua Caltagirone has faced challenges in his life. He saw his parents battle addiction and was forced to rely on social services to help his family through those tough times.
He has also experienced the value of giving back. He saw the generosity of the aunt who took him in, and he learned the worth of getting involved in his own community.
“I grew up in a broken family dealing with loved ones struggling with substance abuse,” he said. “I went from homeless shelters to foster homes until I moved in with my aunt Rose. And then I learned how important it was to give back. ”
That desire to give back compelled him to seek a position in the state House of Representatives-a post where the 29-year-old said he believes he can make a difference on a large scale.
Caltagirone is running to represent the 99th House District, which includes part of northern Lancaster County and Brecknock Township and Mohnton as well as parts of Spring and Cumru townships in Berks County. He is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination in the May 17 primary and will face Republican incumbent David Zimmerman in the general election.
“I’m running because I believe my district deserves a representative as diverse as its community,” he said. “I understand the hardships that most people face, and I believe that having an elected official that you feel you can relate to and talk to when you have a problem is really important.”
Caltagirone, who is the great-nephew of former state Rep. Tom Caltagirone, said he thinks his youth is also a benefit.
“It’s about time we elect young candidates in our area to bring new ideas and perspectives that better suit our evolving communities,” he said. “The 99th deserves a representative that listens and is willing to work hard for everyone. A representative that has seen and experienced many of the same struggles they have or are currently facing. ”
Caltagirone promised to be a voice for families dealing with substance abuse issues, for working people struggling to make ends meet, for young people worried about getting a good education, for those having trouble accessing affordable health care and for everyone concerned about building a prosperous community for future generations to come.
“I believe that with dedication we can have our community setting the example for what an inclusive and hardworking district looks like,” he said.
Caltagirone said his top priorities should voters send him to Harrisburg would be to focus on promoting economic development in the district, lowering property taxes in a way that doesn’t hurt the middle class, preserving the agricultural heritage of the district and ensuring that school districts have the resources they need to educate our young people.
And, given his background, he said he would advocate for more funding for the programs and organizations that help those struggling with substance abuse and their families.
“Addiction can really hurt families and destroy communities,” he said. “We often want to hide these struggles from our neighbors because we’re afraid of being judged. That’s the wrong approach. We should be creating an atmosphere where people can talk about the problems they have so they can get help. ”
State representatives serve two-year terms and receive an annual salary of $ 95,432.
Meet the candidate
Candidate: Joshua Caltagirone, 29, Mohnton.
Position sought: State representative for the 99th District, which includes part of northern Lancaster County and Brecknock Township and Mohnton as well as parts of Spring and Cumru townships in Berks County.
Current salary for position: $ 95,432.
Background: Caltagirone is a project supervisor for Bachman’s Roofing, Building & Remodeling in Wernersville and previously was a maintenance worker at Wernersville State Hospital. He attended Gov. Mifflin High School and later received his GED through a program offered by Reading Area Community College.