A new Latino leader vying for Pennsylvania’s 175th District
Before announcing his candidacy for a spot in Harrisburg, Andre Del Valle was a legislative aide on Councilmember María Quiñones-Sánchez’s staff for five years.
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Come April 28, Philadelphia could have a new Democratic face leading the charge to Harrisburg in its 175th District.
His name is Andre Del Valle, a 27-year-old Mayfair native, and son of a Colombian mother and Cuban father, who is also an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam.
“They instilled in me a dedication to work hard,” says Del Valle. “Unfortunately, there is this narrative that people are in assistance programs because they wanna be.”
It’s a reality he knows well. His grandmother was diabetic and blind, and after returning from Vietnam, his father could only find a job at a factory making $2.02 an hour to support a household of ten.
As a result, Del Valle’s grandmother was on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
According to his father, John Del Valle, it was not until high school that Andre discovered there was more out there other than “Payless Shoes and crispy O’s from ALDI.”
“At an early age, he learned that there is no free ride, you have to work for what you want,” said his father.
Little did Del Valle know that those life experiences would channel into a political career that began as an intern for City Councilmember Maria Quiñones-Sánchez when he was only 21-years-old.
Fast forward five years and he is pulling an Ocasio-Cortez in a move to become a young representative.
“Being young I don’t think is something that should be looked at as a deterrent. [I am here] because I have seen that there is a broken system across this Commonwealth,” said Del Valle. “I will let my work speak for itself”
After all, he’s been surpassing the expectations since early an early age.
At 14, Del Valle was already taking college-level classes at Philadelphia Community college, and that opportunity opened the door for a summer program at Harvard University.
In the four years after he graduated high school, Del Valle split time double-majoring in political science, government and Spanish, and working for both Tomas Sánchez campaign for the 2nd Senatorial District of Pennsylvania and Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez office.
After a year as constituent services representative at Quiñones-Sánchez’s office, Del Valle became the councilmember’s campaign coordinator, for the 2015 elections. Later, he transitioned to becoming a legislative aide, the position he held until deciding to run for office himself.
But a political relationship does not imply total agreement, and Del Valle’s father says Quiñones-Sánchez and Andre have had their discrepancies over the years, but it’s nothing they haven’t been able to overcome.
“In government, you have to know where your line is, but you also have to be willing to negotiate. The perfect can't be the enemy of the good,” he said.
Del Valle’s platform is based on combating the opioid epidemic, gun violence, and dealing with the student debt drowning young Pennsylvanians. He now joins attorney Vanessa McGrath andJeff Dempsey, in the race for the 175th district.
The seat was occupied by Michael O’Brien until 2018, when he died of a heart attack. Mary Isaacson has held the seat since. The primary to vote for the next rep coincides with PA’s Presidential Primary on April 28, 2020.