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Johanny Cepeda-Freyitz
Johanny Cepeda-Freyitz beat Republican challenger Barry Llewellyn in the general election in PA District 129. Photo: Carlos Nogueras/AL DÍA News.

Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz is Reading’s chosen State Rep, the first Democrat and Latina ever elected from PA District 129

Cepeda-Freyitz’s victory is big for PA House balance in favor of Democrats.

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Reading residents officially welcomed Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz as their elected candidate for PA House District 129, as election results poured in from the 2022 midterms, eventually certifying her as the victor.

Within Pennsylvania’s battleground sphere, the 129th seat represented a microcosm of two unique congressional races with their first Latinas on the ballot. 

In Harrisburg, Shamaine Daniels ran the last stretch of her bid against Representative Scott Perry, a Republican incumbent in Congress. 

Cepeda-Freytiz, a Democrat, hoped to succeed Jim Cox, a Republican incumbent who served the district since 2007. 

Albeit a historically Republican stronghold, Reading recently underwent dramatic redistricting that incorporated the broader Latino population occupying the district. 

The newly-redrawn Reading gave Cepeda-Freytiz an unexpected edge to compete for State Representative.

“We’re making a mark. We’re chiseling away at creating equity, diversity and inclusion,” said an emotional Cepeda-Freytiz.

Pictured: Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz
Cepeda-Freytiz emerged as the elected victor for PA House District 129. Photo by Carlos Nogueras / AL DÍA News

In the hours leading to the results, Cepeda-Freytiz toured several poll sites across the district, encouraging eleventh hour voters to cast their ballot, as the campaign prepped for the evening’s celebration.

Outside precinct perimeters, Cepeda-Freytiz engaged exiting voters: “Hoped I earned your vote!” she said.

At the polls, Reading natives residing in D.C. told AL DÍA they’d traveled to the district on behalf of Cepeda-Freytiz because “she is close to the community.”

“I think she has a great moral compass,” a voter, Jonathan, said.

Cepeda-Freytiz, a business owner of a signature Dominican restaurant along Reading’s Penn Street, turned her diner into a campaign HQ, where she ran a tight-knit political operation. 

“As a Latina woman, [there are] these taboos that are placed on us,” noted Cepeda-Freytiz, who described the obstacles from both party lines.

After the primaries, Cepeda-Freytiz lost her campaign manager due to internal issues, unexpectedly rendering her team without leadership.

And in July, Cepeda-Freytiz grappled with the loss of her father, an event that heaved her campaign and nomination.

“The average person would have given up a long time ago,” a campaign staffer said. 

Pictured: Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz
Cepeda-Freytiz unseated a Republican incumbent, in what became an election upset for Reading. Photo by Carlos Nogueras / AL DÍA News

But Cepeda-Freytiz maintained a steady ship alongside Angel Figueroa, an expert campaign hand who had canvassed Latinos for then-nominee Joe Biden in the 2020 elections. 

Figueroa served as campaign director for Cepeda-Freytiz, and saw the campaign through until election night. 

An overwhelmed Cepeda-Freytiz told AL DIA her first order of business is to be “sworn in, learn the ropes and be a game changer for my community.”

Boasting a “people over politics” message, Cepeda-Freytiz wants to lead above politics and party lines, and “work for the people.” 

She ran against Barry Llewellyn, the Republican nominee whose campaign proposals were reminiscent of many right-wing sentiments espoused by the GOP.

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