A Q&A with our new state senator
State Sen. Devlin Robinson represents Mt. Lebanon in the state senate, winning the seat in November 2020 over incumbent Pam Iovino.
Robinson, a Brookline native who lives in Bridgeville, joined the Marine Corps after graduating from Central Catholic High School in 2001 on a delayed entry program. He entered service a month after the 9/11 attacks and served three combat tours as a rifleman, one in Afghanistan and two in Iraq. His awards include two Combat Action Ribbons, a Presidential Unit Citation and a Navy Unit Commendation.
Following his discharge in 2005, Robinson founded Veterans Medical Technology, a company that leases medical equipment and worked as as a laborer and assistant wine maker at C.T. Miller Vineyards. He did all of this while at the same time earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Robert Morris University and an M.B.A. at the University of Pittsburgh.
In Harrisburg, Robinson serves as vice chair of the Law and Justice committee. Other committee assignments are Appropriations; Community, Economic and Recreational Development; Game and Fisheries; Labor and Industry and Local Government.
You have a pretty eclectic work history. How has that experience influenced the way you approach serving as a senator?
I have always believed that when you make a commitment, you better deliver. That is the one thing that military, business and government all have in common. My commitment to the constituents of the 37th Senatorial District is to be honest, accessible, reliable and attentive. These traits, instilled in me during military service and carried over into owning my own business, will now shape how I approach my new role in the legislature.
What do you see as the most pressing issues facing Pennsylvania today?
Everything is secondary until Pennsylvania is on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic. To me, this means current economic recovery and ensured future stability. In order to get there, the priority is getting as many vaccines in as many people’s arms as we possibly can in the most effective way. This is the only way that we will be able to focus on bringing in new revenue and maximizing existing revenue to relieve the budgetary constraints caused by this pandemic.
What were your expectations going into Harrisburg? How have those expectations corresponded with what you’ve seen in your first few months in the senate?
I knew that Harrisburg would be consumed by the effects of COVID-19. Pennsylvania lost many lives to this pandemic. We lost $5 billion in tax revenue, children lost a significant amount of valuable in-person schooling, businesses are struggling and people are turning to the government for guidance. This is our main focus in Harrisburg. We are working to get Pennsylvania back up and running safely and efficiently.
You could argue that the country is as divided now as it’s ever been in living memory. How much of a divide do you see in the 37th District? How do you think we should heal it?
Everyone has their own views of how they’d like to see government work and they elect their representatives to go to Harrisburg based on those interests. My colleagues in the Senate are as eclectic a group of people as you have ever seen. At the end of the day, we want to represent our districts and do right by our constituents and that is one thing that we all have in common. We reach across the aisle and we get things done so that all of Pennsylvania can advance together.