Stephens faces challenger Sylianteng in 151st District
Republican incumbent Todd Stephens faces Democratic challenger Will Sylianteng for the 151st Legislative District of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Stephens, still in his freshman term in the House and representing the district since 2011, said he is the best candidate for the position because having been born and raised in the community, he understands the important issues that the area faces. He said he also deserves to be re-elected because of his persistence, independence and willingness to stand up for his constituents on issues that matter to them.
The biggest issue Stephens said the Legislature faces in the upcoming term is the economy.
It’s “all about jobs, we’ve got to get people back to work,” he said. By solving the economic issues facing the community, Stephens said he thinks that will solve a number of other prevalent issues.
The 41-yearold Horsham Township resident said the Legislature needs to continue to meet its obligations without raising taxes and said that pensions pose a significant threat to the state budget.
The former Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney also said transportation funding is an issue. Roads and bridges are in “alarmingly bad shape,” he said, and the district’s infrastructure needs to be addressed.
A pet project Stephens said he’d like to work out would be changing the education funding formula in the state. He said the current formula is “completely unfair to my local schools.”
He said the state contributes “such a small percentage to educate students” and property taxes pick up the difference. Currently, the state pays about 15 percent of school funding, Stephens said, while property taxes pay the other 85 percent. He said in other parts of the state, it’s the opposite. He said the funding formula needs to be changed to something more equitable, “so it treats commonwealth students equally.”
Stephens reiterated his ability to work across the aisle and the commonwealth, having passed 10 pieces of legislation in the House and three into law, as evidence of his commitment to hard work and getting results for his constituency.
Sylianteng said he’s the best candidate because by looking at Harrisburg today, along with his opponent’s voting record, it shows a clear sign that good public schools aren’t a top priority, and the environment isn’t even on the radar. However, they would be his focus along with promoting jobs.
“I’m the only candidate whose going to fight to correct the funding mistakes with respect to the public education budget,” Sylianteng said.
The 34-yearold Montgomery Township resident said he would fight for safe and responsible fracking in order to protect the environment, and fracking companies should pay their fair share.
A lawyer with the law firm Bennet, Bricklin and Saltzburg, Sylianteng said the Legislature’s biggest challenge would be to continue moving government forward during challenging economic times. He also said the fate of public education in the commonwealth will be a challenge.
He said he thinks there are currently two schools of thought on the issue of public education. The first group believes that public education isn’t necessary and we should move toward privatization. The second group believes public education is vital for democracy and our children, which is what Sylianteng stands for.
Along the same vein, Sylianteng proposed having the state accept a greater responsibility for paying for schools to lower property taxes in the district.
The environment would also be a key issue moving forward, Sylianteng said. With new technology coming into play and an expanding number of energy resources such as natural gas, wind and solar energy, he said the Legislature needs to decide how to benefit from those resources in a responsible and safe manner.
His personal priority would be job creation, noting bridges and roads need repairs and those jobs can’t be outsourced.
“That bridge can’t be fixed outside of Pennsylvania,” Sylianteng said, adding that Pennsylvania workers need to be the ones fixing them.
He said he’s the only candidate with private sector experience and doesn’t believe government and private corporations need to butt heads but rather find common ground.
The 151st district represents Ambler Borough and parts of Abington, Horsham, Lower Gwynedd, Montgomery and rpper Dublin townships.
State Rep. Todd Stephens,