LOCK HAVEN - Republicans in Clinton County turned out in fine number for a picnic, auction and addresses by three candidates Sunday at Mill Hall Community Park.
Showers held off as auction bidding went on at the park's main pavilion. Clinton County Commissioner Tom Bossert was the auctioneer, and the featured candidates assisted by toting pies, paintings, afghans and more to the winning bidders.
Congressional candidate Glenn Thompson of Howard Township and Bud Yost of the Lock Haven area, running for State House, were joined by Joseph Veranese of the Johnstown area who is running for State Senate.
Republican candidates Bud Yost, left, running for the 76th District State House seat, Glenn Thompson, center, running for Congress and Joseph Veranese, candidate for State Senate, spoke at the Clinton County Republican picnic Sunday at Mill Hall Community Park and also assisted with the auction by delivering baked goods and other items to the lucky bidders.
WENDY STIVER/THE EXPRESS
All three spoke about taxes, jobs for Pennsylvanians and transportation issues including the concept of tolling I-80.
Thompson, who has been tapped as the party's choice to succeed Rep. John Peterson, R-Pleasantville, in the 5th Congressional District, has pledged his support and to "fight to keep I-80 toll-free."
He presented county Republican chairman Kurt Smith with a pin in recognition of his leadership on this issue.
"The people spoke and government listened!" the candidate said. "Clinton County was an early leader in the effort to block what would have been a tremendous burden on our local economy."
The proposed tolling was quashed at the federal level just days earlier, but both Veranese and Yost pointed fingers squarely at their Democratic opponents and said they helped start the whole business by voting for it on the state level.
"Sen. (John) Wozniak voted for tolling I-80 and that flew right in the face of 99.8 percent of the residents and businesses of Clinton County and all of the counties that border I-80," Veranese said. "He stated this spring... the people in Cambria County do not care if you toll I-80. It would seem that he forgot his district comes this far north."
Yost and Democratic incumbent Mike Hanna, also from Lock Haven, have already been back and forth in the media on Hanna's voting record on tolling I-80. Yost went back to House voting archives for June 2007 and HB 1590, the McCall Amendment, he said, and according to him, the record shows Hanna voted for it and helped it to pass the House by just one vote.
Now that collecting tolls is off the table, Hanna has told The Express he advocates leasing the turnpike to a management company as another way to avoid a gas tax increase.
Yost told the crowd Sunday that the high bidder on the turnpike lease was a Spanish firm, a unit of Citigroup Inc.
"The turnpike is too valuable an asset to lease to foreign interests," he said. "It takes hundreds of jobs to run the turnpike and those jobs should go to Pennsylvanians. At a time when unemployment is at its highest, our representative is comfortable giving Pennsylvanians' jobs away."
Veranese said Pennsylvania has the highest corporate income tax in the country, is 41st in economic development, has the highest diesel tax in the nation and a gasoline tax in the top five in the country which places "a burden... on our working families." The AFL-CIO, he said, reports 200,000 jobs lost in the state last year.
He criticized his opponent for failing to address redistricting reform, which Veranese said has delayed that issue for a decade, as well as for never having held a job in the private sector and for taking "the midnight pay raise" for legislators which caused great public outcry.
Thompson's platform also takes a stand on jobs and includes enforcement of a Fair Trade policy to keep America competitive globally.
The candidate also told the crowd he wants to help citizens by making the 2001 and 2003 federal tax cuts permanent.
Yost pledged to work for tax relief and to work toward reducing the earned income tax, and Veranese is campaigning for property tax reform.
"It's time for a fresh look at this issue, and that might include a choice of taxing instruments that would be available to the county and the school district," Veranese said.
"Our state government is growing faster than the income of our taxpaying residents," Yost said. "In the last 18 years (Hanna's time in the Legislature), our state government has taxed just about everything they could think of. Our economy is extremely sluggish and our residents are struggling to manage their home and budgets. They cannot afford to pay more taxes... They cannot afford the high prices of electricity and natural gas."
The candidate said he will "work to encourage businesses to develop in the 76th District by lowering corporate taxes and by giving tax incentives to businesses that expand to create new jobs."
He also pledged to fight for a re-examination of de-regulating PPL, Allegheny Power and other utilities which will take effect in the coming few years and will result in higher rates.
"Over 60 percent of the families in our district are raising children on an average salary of $31,000, and over 30 percent of our citizens are retired on fixed incomes of $26,000," he said.
Thompson stated he looks forward to "working for your family's future," including a reduction in the size and cost of government.
"Working for you means three things to me: respecting that it is your money that government spends, securing America's safety and protecting our shared values," he said.
He also said he will lead the way to a comprehensive energy policy to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
"The Thompson energy plan to defeat foreign energy dependence includes using all domestic resources, natural gas, developing alternative energies, coal, nuclear and continued conservation," he said. "The 5th District is full of the resources that will be instrumental in making our country energy independent. "
A manager for Susquehanna Health Rehab Services, he has pledged to "assure accessibility and affordability of rural health care to our citizens and employers."
His platform includes protecting the Second Amendment right to bear arms and respecting the rights of the unborn by supporting only adult stem cell research which, he said, is the only type of stem-cell research that has shown medical results.
"In contrast to my opponent, I have received the National Right to Life endorsement," he said.
He also pledged to support the troops and the nation's mission.
"With a son in the infantry who was wounded in Iraq, recovered over four months and returned to his unit, I will always support our sons and daughters who serve in harm's way for us," Thompson said. "This includes training, equipment and resources while they serve and caring for them when they return home. America's national defense is the No. 1 function of the federal government, and these heroes are the ones who sacrifice to make this happen. My opponent has gone on record he will expedite withdrawal of our troops from Iraq and cut their funding if that does not occur."
The candidate, who spoke directly and without notes, also pledged, "I will always put people above politics! I will always speak candidly. We may not always agree, but you can be assured that I will do the right thing."
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