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Johanny Cepeda-Freyitz
Reading City Councilmember Johanny Cepeda Freyitz emerged the victor in the Democratic primary for PA District 129. Photo: Jeremy Drey/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

With a narrow win, Johanny Cepeda-Freyitz could be the only Latina in Harrisburg in 2023

The Reading City Councilmember running to be the state representative from District 129, beat her primary opponent by a little more than 400 votes.

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The results are still unofficial, but it’s looking like Reading City Councilmember Johanny Cepeda-Freyitz will be the only Latina still in the running for a spot in Harrisburg in 2022’s November general election.

She will be running to represent District 129, a district that saw major changes amid the recent redistricting process. What once used to comprise just the suburbs of Reading, PA now includes part of the city that was once in Rep. Manny Guzman’s District 127. 

That shift, while sending Guzman into the opposite suburbs more, brought whoever ran for District 129’s seat into the city, which is majority Latino. In response, longtime Republican incumbent Jim Cox announced he would not seek reelection in 2022. 

In other words, it shaped up perfectly for someone like Cepeda-Freyitz to run. The Reading City Councilmember with Dominican roots has served in the city’s government since 2019, but has a much longer history in the city as an entrepreneur.

She is also the co-founder, alongside her family, of Mi Casa Su Casa, a breakfast and lunch café in downtown Reading. Since it’s opened, the spot has become both a focal point for the massive Latino community in the city, but also a place where rare civil political discourse has taken place. It’s endeared Cepeda-Freyitz to Latino and non-Latino patrons alike.

Still, in the primary on May 17, Cepeda-Freyitz faced stiff competition from Reading School Board member Mark Detterline. The unofficial results have her in the lead with 2,118 votes, over Detterline’s 1,709, for a spread of just 409.

Despite not having an official announcement yet, Cepeda-Freyitz went to Facebook to celebrate with supporters.

“Super emotional right now! We did this!! Community did this!!” she wrote.

If her victory is confirmed, Cepeda-Freyitz will go on to face retired Reading teacher Barry Llewellyn in the general election. He ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

Her win will also be the only one for a Latina candidate for state office across all the primaries in Pennsylvania. Janet Temin (Janet Diaz), who previously ran to be the first Latina in PA’s Senate in 2020, fell in the primary to represent Lancaster’s District 49 in Harrisburg. In Allentown, Enid Santiago fell in the primary to rep Democrats in District 134 and Yamelisa Taveras in the PA Senate’s District 14.

If Cepeda-Freyitz wins in November, she will be the only Latina serving in Harrisburg.

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