HARRISBURG, Pa. – Lawmakers are scheduled to be sworn in at the Pennsylvania Capitol on Tuesday when a new legislative session begins.
Some of the newly elected have said they are the most diverse class of newcomers to the legislature in years.
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Representative Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz will be in Harrisburg on Tuesday to attend her swearing-in ceremony.
Among the new lawmakers with high hopes is the former Reading City Council President.
MP Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz told 69 News she had very high hopes as she entered state office for the first time.
“To be the first Latina from Berks County is pretty amazing,” said Cepeda-Freytiz. “I’m so excited. I thank God every day. I thank my family, all the volunteers, supporters, voters.”
Cepeda-Freytiz has started making Harrisburg their second home. Their office there is located at 104A East Wing. She also invites people to get acquainted with the county office she will be opening in Berks.
“We get the keys on January 10th. The address is 1111 Penn Avenue,” the state’s new lawmaker said. “I want to be very visible and share with people what we have to offer and how they can use our services.”
The owner of the café, Mi Casa Su Casa, hopes to help small businesses as well.
“Small businesses are often a little neglected and overlooked, so I want to make sure I’m an advocate for them, too,” she explained.
Another goal is to establish an advisory board with people from different communities throughout Berks.
“I want to have my feet on the road, ears and eyes everywhere so that we do what is necessary to provide quality service to everyone in the district,” said Cepeda-Freytiz.
Looking back, she says her service on Reading City Council prepared her for this moment. She describes her local ministry as “boot camp, sort of.”
“Have a lot of patience, understand personalities and reach consensus,” she explained.
However, it was not without challenges. Exactly two weeks after the death of former Reading City Council President Jeffrey Waltman, the council voted unanimously to appoint Cepeda-Freytiz as its new President.
Soon after, she lost a close family member who had helped her with her campaign. A short time later, lawmakers say her father died.
“A lot of losses, but despite that we persevered and are still here. I know it’s going to be emotional for me tomorrow because my dad isn’t here and I don’t want to cry,” she said through tears.
“I’ve never seen myself doing politics or running for office, but it was a need to make a difference, to make a difference, to have a voice, to represent the underrepresented, and here I am at the state level,” she said. “Wow.”
Cepeda-Freytiz tells 69 News that she has been very busy preparing for the first meeting of the year. Since Dec. 1, she says, she’s been working on a budget, hiring a chief of staff and a constituent services adviser, and providing letters of support for scholarships to Wyomissing and the Olivet Boys and Girls Club.
“We also attended various city council meetings, so I was at the West Reading Council meeting in Sinking Spring, Wyomissing,” she said. “We are thinking of a women’s health fair in March.”
On Tuesday morning, a busload of people will travel from the GoggleWorks parking lot at 201 Washington St. to Harrisburg for the inauguration ceremony.
Cepeda-Freytiz can be reached by email at [email protected]