Pa Rep Tom Caltagirone (D-Berks) will be stepping down from the state legislature at the end of his current term. He has decided to not seek re-election.
Caltagirone has served 22 terms in the state House. He took office in 1977 and ranks as the longest-serving legislator in the PA General Assembly. He has served under nine governors, taking office during the second term of Milton Shapp.
Caltagirone has seen a lot of folks come and go and has observed a lot of changes at the Capitol—starting with all the new technology.
“We didn’t have any computers back then,” he told me on a visit to his Capitol office. “No cellphones. None of that existed. Everything was by telephone and personal communication.”
But that doesn’t seem to be the change that has had the biggest impact on Caltagirone.
“It’s changed—the whole composition of the membership. You have the left, you have the right and it seems like more moderates—both Democrats and Republicans—very few of them exist anymore. It’s just as bad in Washington. You begin to wonder: what’s their purpose? They’re there for the people, to do the people’s business and to try to make things better. But that doesn’t always happen. There’s too much warfare going on between the two parties and it’s not good for the people.”
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference worked with Caltagirone on two bills that he has sponsored and worked on, both having to do with taking rundown properties and converting them into shelter for the homeless. They’re known as the “Land Bank bills.”
“I’ve worked on that for years, trying to give the communities extra tools to work with in their home areas so they can get these derelict properties, fix them up with the proper tax credits and additional funding and help people that are without homes right now—the homeless, veterans—put them into housing, quality housing that meets code standards, of course.”
I asked Rep. Caltagirone what he would do with his time when he leaves the Capitol. He hasn’t established a firm plan, but he’s been thinking about it.
“I’m thinking of different things. I’m thinking of writing my memoirs because I go back all the way to Gov. Shapp and it’s been quite a ride. There are a lot of memories, a lot of funny things that have happened. And some very interesting situations in how we how evolved to get certain things done over the years.”