Costello and Parrish discuss issues for 6th District
Republican Congressman Ryan Costello is up for re-election against Democrat Mike Parrish
Two Chester County men are running for election to the 6th Congressional District seat that covers a large portion of the northern and eastern part of the county but also parts of Montgomery, Berks and Lebanon counties.
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, a Republican, is seeking re-election to what would be his second term, while Democratic challenger Mike Parrish is hoping to replace him in Washington, D.C.
Costello, 40, of West Goshen is a graduate of Ursinus College and Villanova University School of Law, and worked as a land use attorney. He has served as township supervisor in East Vincent, where he was born, and later as Chester County Recorder of Deeds and county commissioner before being elected to Congress in 2014.
Parrish, 53, of Willistown is a graduate of West Point Academy and at Stanford University and the Wharton School of Economics, where he earned master’s degrees in engineering and economics. A small businessman, he served in the Army and is a colonel in the Army Reserves. This is his first run for elective office.
Both men were interviewed separately, and asked questions on issues involving immigration, the U.S. economy, the positions taken by leaders of their respective parties, and concerns specific to the 6th District.
On immigration, Costello opened by pointing to the breakdowns that have allowed millions of undocumented workers from entering the country.
“It is a broken system,” he said. “Border enforcement has failed. But the physical erection of a wall will not in and of itself prevent the migration of those across the southern border. Until the border problem is addressed, the situation is just going to repeat itself. I think we need to deploy more technology and more officers.”
Beyond that, he noted the similarities between those who are
here legally on visas that expire and must return and those who are here without permission. Both add value to the economy that is lost if they are forced to leave, he said.
“When we talk about immigration and who should come here, their nationality and their religion is of no consequence. We treat people equally, and we should be providing opportunity to all those who come her legally and go through the process.”
On the economy, he said he does not “believe that many of the president’s policies have proven successful in elevating the strength of the economy. We are not growing at the clip that we should be at this time.”
He pointed specifically to the issue of corporate inversion, which he believes forces American companies to keep jobs overseas for fear of being dually taxed. “I think that ignores the fundamental problem with the territorial nature of our taxation system. You can’t deploy capital here without paying taxes twice.”
Costello addressed a component of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s “A Better Way” plan that he said would look at giving state and local government more flexibility at finding solutions for poverty.
“If we were to empower states and county government to do what works best in their communities without a lot of the strings and mandates attached, I believe we would do a lot better in providing opportunity for people to get beyond poverty into sustainable living,” he said.
While mentioning education, environmental protection, land conservation, and high-tech job development as issues the 6th District is concerned about, he pointed specifically to mass transportation as a key component of the district that should be strengthened.
“We are an area that relies on public transportation for our way of life and our economy,” he said. “A lot of other regions of the country don’t see that as much of an issue as I do.“
Parrish, in his answers, spoke of his experience as a business owner and military veteran. On immigration, he spoke of his service with Vietnam refugees who had graduated from West Point with him.
“This country is made of immigrants,” he said. “Everyone has the opportunity to come to America and everyone believes in the idea of America. The term refugee or the term immigrant is not a bad word in my mind.
“I think there should be a path to citizenship,”he continued. “Not what Mr. Trump is proposing and shipping them back, that’s a little extreme, and its costprohibitive. I think these people are hard-working, but they need to be citizens instead of undocumented, so they can start paying into the system.”
On the economy, he pointed mostly to the need for infrastructure development.
“We need a 21st-century infrastructure for a 21st-century economy,” he said, adding that the current Congress “pats itself on the back for doing the bare minimum, Band-Aid fixes to bridges and roads” are not the solution, he said. “What I am calling for is a bipartisan plan for an organized effort for a massive upgrade.”
That led Parrish to speak about the 6th District and its needs for upgrades to mass transportation. “That would be a huge opportunity, such as the Reading Railroad,” he said. “They have become a depressed city in Reading because they lost mass transit, and I am a big proponent of reinstituting that.”
He agreed with Hillary Clinton’s push for reducing the debt students take on after college, saying that a solution would be to help pay tuition out of an infrastructure bank that would pay for school in return for service in industry.
“It doesn’t have to be a college degree,” he said. “It could be a trade or a skill. It is a way of getting an education, filling the need of fixing the infrastructure, and having a skill and a job.”
His concerns for the 6th District surrounded the military veterans that live here and their health care needs.
“You talk to most veterans and they will tell you for the VA system the services they get is A-plus,” he said. “But waiting to get classified for disability services is problematic.
“If you peel back the onion, it’s a systemic issue,” he said. “Not just veterans, but Social Security and Medicare disabilities. It is a challenge to get the approval. It should be a seamless transition.”