Lawrence faces Dean in state House elec­tion

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Bar­ber cbar­ber@21st-cen­tu­ry­

Repub­li­can in­cum­bent John Lawrence is fac­ing Demo­cratic chal­lenger Nancy Dean for the seat rep­re­sent­ing the 13th District in the Penn­syl­va­nia House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

The 13th District cov­ers most of ru­ral south­ern Ch­ester County as well as the borough of Chris­tiana in Lan­caster County. The mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Ch­ester County in­clude East Nottingham, Elk, Franklin, High­land, Lon­don Grove, Lon­don­derry, Lower Ox­ford, New Lon­don, Penn, Up­per Ox­ford, West Fal­low­field, West Nottingham, At­glen, Ox­ford and West Grove.

Lawrence was elected to his seat in 2011 af­ter state Rep. Art Her­shey an­nounced his re­tire­ment. Dean has not run for state of­fice pre­vi­ously.

John Lawrence

Lawrence, 38, is a life­long res­i­dent of south­ern Ch­ester County. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Penn State with a de­gree in busi­ness, he ac­cepted a po­si­tion at JPMor­gan Chase in Ne­wark, even­tu­ally be­com­ing a vice pres­i­dent in the Pri­vate Client Group. He and his wife have been mar­ried for 15 years, and have two daugh­ters. “Dur­ing my time in of­fice, I have ad­vo­cated for fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity and re­form; lead­ing by ex­am­ple I have de­clined the state pen­sion and many of the other ‘perks’ that leg­is­la­tors of the past voted them­selves,” he said.

On the is­sue of schools, Lawrence said par­ents should have good choices and a strong voice in the ed­u­ca­tion of their chil­dren. He said he has been an ad­vo­cate for pub­lic, pub­lic char­ter, and pri­vate schools.

“With re­gard to the Key­stone Ex­ams, I do not sup­port a man­date re­quir­ing a stu­dent to pass the Key­stones in or­der to graduate — this man­date un­fairly pun­ishes stu­dents who are lean­ing to­ward a ca­reer in skilled trades. I am a strong sup­porter of the EITC

tax credit, which pro­vides ad­di­tional fund­ing for both pub­lic and pri­vate schools,” he said.

In mat­ters of the state bud­get and fi­nances, Lawrence says that the big­gest fi­nan­cial is­sue fac­ing Penn­syl­va­nia is the $60 bil­lion un­funded li­a­bil­ity in the state teacher’s and worker’s pen­sion sys­tems. He said the “li­a­bil­ity is not the fault of the teach­ers,” but rather the “re­sult of in­cred­i­bly poor de­ci­sions made by both Repub­li­can and Demo­crat elected of­fi­cials in the early 2000s.”

Lawrence said he is “a sup­porter of elim­i­nat­ing prop­erty taxes and mov­ing to­ward a sales and in­come tax based model to fund ed­u­ca­tion.”

On re­pro­duc­tive is­sues, Lawrence said, “I rec­og­nize and re­spect that peo­ple can strongly dis­agree on the is­sue of abor­tion. With this in mind, I have been, and will con­tinue to be, a voice for life in the Leg­is­la­ture.” Lawrence said he is a sup­porter of farm­land preser­va­tion.

Lawrence said he sup­ports the right of Penn­syl­va­ni­ans to carry guns. “I take my oath to up­hold the con­sti­tu­tion very se­ri­ously. The Leg­is­la­ture has taken im­por­tant steps, which I have sup­ported, to keep guns out of the hands of those likely to of­fend. Some of th­ese mea­sures in­clude adding more men­tal health records to the fed­eral back­ground check data­base, and sig­nif­i­cantly in­creas­ing penal­ties on straw pur­chasers of guns. Th­ese are con­crete steps that have a mea­sur­able im­pact on gun vi­o­lence. I am not sup­port­ive of leg­is­la­tion that in­fringes on the con­sti­tu­tional rights of law-abid­ing citizens.”

Inas­much as Ch­ester County has a lot of im­mi­grant la­bor pick­ing crops, Lawrence said this: “The courts have re­peat­edly ruled that im­mi­gra­tion is a fed­eral is­sue. Pres­i­dents Bush and Obama both had the op­por­tu­nity, but nei­ther did any­thing to ad­dress this is­sue. In my view, this vacuum of fed­eral lead­er­ship, in con­junc­tion with the afore­men­tioned court rul­ings, have left the states in a dif­fi­cult po­si­tion. On a state level, I have sup­ported ini­tia­tives re­quir­ing the use of E-Ver­ify for em­ploy­ment pur­poses, and re­quir­ing proof of cit­i­zen­ship to ob­tain wel­fare ben­e­fits.”

Nancy Dean

Dean, 67, of Chatham, moved from Delaware to this ru­ral area nine years ago. She pur­sued a ca­reer in teach­ing, and then made a mid-life ca­reer change to min­istry. She is now re­tired. She is mar­ried, a mother of two and grand­mother of two. “I taught in var­i­ous set­tings in­clud­ing sev­eral years at a univer­sity as I worked on my masters and doc­tor­ate in English lit­er­a­ture, but made a mid-life turn to study reli­gion at the Divin­ity School of Har­vard Univer­sity,” she said. “I was or­dained in min­istry in 1994, and served two churches in Mas­sachusetts, and one in Delaware for 20 years.”

Dean said she be­lieves no na­tion can be healthy and pro­duc­tive with­out good schools.

“While tests have a needed place in eval­u­a­tion, un­for­tu­nately they have steadily be­come the end rather than the means, and the state is spend­ing far too much on test­ing when many schools are in­ad­e­quately sup­plied to meet the stated goals of the Com­mon Core. Char­ters can pro­vide a valu­able al­ter­na­tive, but they should not weaken the main sys­tem, and should be a part of that sys­tem for proper over­sight and ac­count­abil­ity,” she said.

Dean be­lieves the state bud­get must be ex­am­ined for waste and re­duc­tions made that do not un­fairly place a bur­den on pub­lic ser­vants who worked in good faith.

“Ex­ces­sive de­pen­dence on prop­erty taxes is not sup­ported by citizens, so some com­bi­na­tion of non-re­gres­sive taxes would be bet­ter. Peo­ple should not have their la­bor un­der­val­ued, and there should be a raise in the min­i­mum wage,” she said.

She said she sup­ports Planned Par­ent­hood. “Women’s health is­sues are im­por­tant, and Planned Par­ent­hood has an ex­cel­lent his­tory of pro­vid­ing af­ford­able gy­ne­co­log­i­cal ex­ams, and help with fam­ily plan­ning.”

She be­lieves that putting land in trust is a win­ning plan for pro­tect­ing the ru­ral land­scape. “We live in one of the most beau­ti­ful places on earth, and pro­tect­ing it should a high pri­or­ity,” she said.

Dean be­lieves in the right to own weapons. “I grew up in a fam­ily of hunters, also am a gun owner, and know that sen­si­ble weapons reg­u­la­tion is good for ev­ery­one.”

In view of the high num­ber of im­mi­grants em­ployed in Ch­ester County, es­pe­cially in agri­cul­ture, she said, “We are long over­due for an up­dated, com­mon­sense im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy that would help peo­ple who want to come for work, but would prob­a­bly be happy to go home. As it is, the cur­rent sys­tem en­cour­ages of­ten dan­ger­ous ef­forts to come here, and less will­ing­ness to re­turn home. For those who would like to be citizens, there should be a way for them to move to­ward cit­i­zen­ship that is fair and up­holds the law.”

John Lawrence

Nancy Dean

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