The story of Southwestern Pennsylvania is the story of my life.

I was born in South Franklin Township, the son of a union ironworker and a waitress. My life was pretty good in the early years until my dad was injured on the job when a steel beam fell on the truck he was in, shattering his leg. With barely any income, we became homeless for 2 years and I shuffled around between the couches of relatives and friends.

During this time, my parents both began taking prescription opioids, my dad for his injury and my mom for her chronic back pain. My home life deteriorated quickly and I realized that the only way that I was going to make it out was by getting a good education.

I worked hard in high school, found some excellent role models through my Boy Scout Troop and graduated high in my class from McGuffey High School with the help of a number of good, kind-hearted folks that I still call my "adopted mothers" to this day.

I got accepted to my dream school, the University of Pittsburgh, but couldn't afford the tuition at first so I had to take classes at the CCAC-Washington Campus for a semester. When I finally got to Pitt, I joined the Air Force ROTC and worked 30+ hours per week to pay my way through. I graduated Cum Laude with dual degrees in History and Political Science.

The following fall I was accepted to Pitt Law on scholarship and set out to learn how to best help those in need from my community. I volunteered my legal services for a number of organizations while in law school. Having known how it feels to be homeless myself I spent a summer volunteering at Neighborhood Legal Services, defending tenants who were being wrongfully evicted themselves.

A few weeks before graduating Law School, I found out that my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and only had a few months to live. He went into the hospital just after graduation. While he was in the hospital, my mother, overwhelmed with grief and addiction overdosed on prescription opioids. Though grief stricken, my family was already well acquainted with losing loved ones to addiction and overdose. My mother’s sister had overdosed and died just 2 years before my mother. 

The illusion of finally believing that I had escaped the cycle of poverty was shattered that day.

Despite arranging my mother’s funeral and spending endless hours in the hospital with my father, I took the Bar Exam a month later and passed.

Things seemed to have stabilized in my personal life.

For many candidates, they decided to run for office on November 9, 2016. My decision to make a difference came on October 29, 2016, when I got a phone call that informed me that my big brother, Eric Pabian had overdosed on heroin laced with fentanyl. He was 44 years old and had 2 teenage boys. I would late find out that 6 other people overdosed and died on the same batch of tainted heroin that same weekend. I was devastated and swore to do everything in my power to stop this from happening to any more families.  

In January of 2017, I decided that I wanted to use my education for the purposes of helping others. I started my own law practice and small business - Close to Home Settlement Services, LLC.

My practices and business are both centered on helping those in the community who do so much for us by providing Veterans, Police Officers, Firefighters and First Responders with free services to help them purchase a home.

My life has shown that the American Dream still exists with hard-work, determination and the help of others. However, I believe strongly that the path to a better life shouldn't be so difficult to navigate. Our elected officials need to stop the partisan fighting around divisive topics and get their hands dirty working to create good jobs, provide quality public education and end the drug epidemic in our communities.

I am a Democrat because I believe that the government can be a tool to help people who want to help themselves and I am running for State Senate to make the American Dream just a little bit more achievable for kids who have lives like I did.


Show your support for this campaign by endorsing it and sharing why!

  • MJ Markley endorsed

    “James knows the struggles of life. His story has shown me that he can overcome a lot and still push forward. That is what we need for our working class. Strong, positive people fighting to help others. Best of luck sir. MJ”

  • Maria Pisano endorsed

    “I support James because I believe he will work hard for families in Pennsylvania.”

  • Chris Carter endorsed

    “James is one of the leaders we need for our country to move forward. I've seen him in action and I've talked with him about various issues and I can confidently say I want him on it front lines fighting for us.”

  • Brenna Bioni endorsed

    “My uncle has always told me “be the change you want to see in the world.”. It’s nice to see someone running for office for all the right reasons.”

  • Allyson Gilman endorsed

    “Seems like the kind of person who is running from his heart and won't be corrupted by special interests... go get 'em kid”

October 2, 2017

Help Us Kickoff Our Campaign

Friends, family, and neighbors,

Our campaign to repair Southwestern PA has made tremendous strides already to get our message out to the community.  However, as the end of the year approaches, it is necessary to raise funds to kickoff the campaign and make sure that our voices are heard by everyone in SWPA.  I hope that you will consider making a modest donation toward our $25,000 kickoff goal.  This is just the beginning of our fight to bring the stories of ALL of SWPA to the forefront of our political dialogue.  Every donation is appreciated, no matter how large or small!

September 29, 2017

Campaign created!

Show your support for this campaign by endorsing it and sharing why!

  • Eric Incitti endorsed

  • Patrick Arena endorsed

  • MJ Markley endorsed

    “James knows the struggles of life. His story has shown me that he can overcome a lot and still push forward. That is what we need for our working class. Strong, positive people fighting to help others. Best of luck sir. MJ”

  • Madeleine Fincham endorsed

  • Matthew Feinman endorsed

  • Jared Yesko endorsed

  • Maria Pisano endorsed

    “I support James because I believe he will work hard for families in Pennsylvania.”

  • James Mentzer endorsed

  • michele berman endorsed

  • Alicia Mankey endorsed

  • Lucas Lemasters endorsed

  • Olivia Evans endorsed

  • Megan Engle endorsed

  • Miles Newell endorsed

  • Scot Saggiomo endorsed

  • Kaitlynn Oliver endorsed

  • Frank Cass endorsed

  • Callan Carnahan endorsed

  • Zachary Patton endorsed

  • Jeff La Rosa endorsed

  • Trevor Cutlip endorsed

  • Byron Lynn Richey endorsed

  • Chris Carter endorsed

    “James is one of the leaders we need for our country to move forward. I've seen him in action and I've talked with him about various issues and I can confidently say I want him on it front lines fighting for us.”

  • Brenna Bioni endorsed

    “My uncle has always told me “be the change you want to see in the world.”. It’s nice to see someone running for office for all the right reasons.”

  • gerald endorsed

  • Eric B. endorsed

  • adam hosterman endorsed

  • Allyson Gilman endorsed

    “Seems like the kind of person who is running from his heart and won't be corrupted by special interests... go get 'em kid”

  • Benjamin Vaccaro endorsed

  • Ella Eisenhour endorsed