RENOVO - A lifelong Renovo resident and U.S. Army veteran is seeking the Democratic Party's nomination for the 5th Congressional District in Pennsylvania.
Thomas Tarantella has announced his interest in the office, which is currently held by Republican Glenn "GT" Thompson of Howard, whose term ends in 2015.
An election for the seat will be held in 2014.
Tarantella served in the U.S. Army for 22 years where he was a member of the Rapid Deployment Force, a Paratrooper and a Lite Fighter. He was deployed around the world, including Bosnia, Central America and the Middle East. He was awarded seven campaign ribbons, a Bronze Star, five Meritous Service Medals, four Commendation Medals, 13 Army Achievement Medals before being honorably discharged in 2002.
Currently, he works as a welder's helper with Norfolk Southern. He previously worked for the Bureau of Forestry and PennDOT.
Tarantella said he decided to run for office after watching news coverage of the recent federal government shutdown during which time World War II veterans faced challenges accessing the World War II memorial in Washington, DC. Tarantella said it was ironic that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was there attempting to give veterans access to the memorial when Cruz was "a key instigator" in the shutdown.
"That's when I decided I wanted to run because my daughter said, 'Don't think about it, be about it,'" Tarantella said.
If elected, Tarantella said one of his top priorities will be ensuring that active military and veterans have the income and medical care they deserve. Today, he said, the income for many members of the military is so low that they qualify for government assistance, which he said needs to change.
Additionally, he said he would tackle the backlog related to veterans seeking benefits and push for a full-time Veterans Affairs representative in Clinton County.
"These are my band of brothers. They are the youth of America And we're allowing this to happen," Tarantella said.
Tarantella said he would also look to broaden the tax base in America by bringing manufacturers back to the United States.
"If we don't push for it, it's not going to happen. We are the market," he said.
To fix issues with Social Security, Tarantella said the government should close tax loopholes for the wealthy, such as yachts and private jet tax deductions.
Tarantella has been married to his wife, Ann, for 31 years. They have three children and five grandchildren.
The 5th congressional district includes the following counties: Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Huntingdon, Jefferson, McKean, Potter, Tioga, Venango and Warren.