This week, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman released an ad on the growing heroin epidemic that is affecting Pennsylvania and the U.S.
In the video, Fetterman walks through abandon homes in North Braddock, which neighbors Fetterman's community, calling one of the abandoned homes a "cathedral to addiction" because people broke in and striped the home of what is valuable, like its copper piping, to sell and fuel their drug addiction. (In fact, City Paper wrote in February about another nearby community, Turtle Creek, that is also experience a heroin epidemic.)
"What would our country look like if 30 years ago we didn't declare a war on drugs but we declared a war on addiction and treated it like the medical condition that it is," Fetterman asks in the ad. "How many millions of families lives would not have been damaged or destroyed by seeing their loved ones get sent away for years and years through mandatory sentencing?"
Fetterman's press release points out that more than half of Pennsylvania's drug overdose deaths in 2014 were a result of heroin use, according to a report from the Drug Enforcement Administration. In Allegheny County, opioid overdose deaths were down from 326 in 2014, to 246 in 2015, but the majority of overdose deaths were still caused from opioids (particularly herion) in 2015, according to Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner.
Fetterman says in the press release that white suburban neighborhoods have also been experience rising opioid use, but communities of color have been the hardest hit by the epidemic. Fetterman points to his first hand experience as mayor of a community that has experienced such problems as why he wanted to highlight the heroin issue.
The ad is available online and will be showed over the air in select Pennsylvania TV markets.
Pennsylvania's primary election is April 26, and Fetterman is going up against former state environmental secretary Katie McGinty, former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, and Findlay township small business owner Joe Vodvarka. To learn more about other issues important to the U.S. Senate candidates, read CP's coverage of their thoughts on affordable housing, fracking, and gun control.