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Our new members of the Legislature will have their hands full this year.  Among them, we find some seasoned political veterans, newcomers, and everything in between.  PoliticsPA looks at some of the most promising stars of the class...


Senator Jim Ferlo (D):  It's tough to consider Ferlo, a 14-year Pittsburgh City Councilman and two-term Council President, a Freshman.  Ferlo comes to the Senate with more experience than many veterans.  Expect Ferlo to push hard to bring home the bacon, and for him (not Mayor Murphy) to be the point man for Pittsburgh.


Representative Dave Hickernell (R):  The Elizabethtown College graduate is the insider of insiders.  He's worked for the House Republican Caucus as a legislative assistant, Director of the House Policy Committee, Executive Director for the Majority Whip’s Office and, Executive Assistant to the Majority Appropriations Chairman.  Hickernell was elected as Lancaster County’s Clerk of Courts in 1999, and prior to that served on the Republican County Committee and Chaired the Elizabethtown Republican Committee.  First-term legislators will be looking to Hickernell to explain the intricacies of the legislative process. 


Representative Daylin Leach (D):  The Temple University and University of Houston law graduate has all the ingredients of a rising star.  He knows how to navigate the political world.  The former President of the Pennsylvania Young Democrats understands the game.  And most importantly, he makes the job look fun.


Senator Dominic Pileggi (R):  Although technically not a member of the Freshman class since he was elected in a October 2002 special election, Pileggi's stature is likely to grow considerably in his first full term.  The St. Joseph's University and Villanova School of Law graduate has the inside game mastered.  He is the former Mayor of Chester, longtime member of the Republican Party of Chester and currently Chairman of the Executive Committee.  Pileggi has a solid power base from which to develop, and may someday outgrow his state Senate seat.


Representative Dave Reed (R): The recent Honors graduate from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania does not yet have the long and distinguished record of service that other Freshman have, but at 24, is now the youngest state legislator in Pennsylvania. What he lacks in practical experience, Reed more than makes up for with hard work.


Representative Melissa Weber (R):  Weber is a graduate of Denison University with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics; received a Juris Doctorate from Widener University School of Law; and a Legal Masters Degree in Trial Advocacy form Temple University.  This former Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney has all the qualities of a rising star, and her political potential could one day carry her all the way to Washington.


Representative Jake Wheatley  (D):  Wheatley earned his bachelor's degree from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and master's degree from the University of Pittsburgh.  Wheatley defeated incumbent State Representative Bill Robinson in the primary, which we called Robinson's campaign one of the worst of the season.  Sure, Wheatley was convicted in 1992 for larceny and assault, but he has successfully put that footnote behind him. That said, he has a solid array of Pittsburgh contacts, has impressed the Harrisburg Democratic leadership, and has demonstrated he knows how to hustle.