Two vie to rep­re­sent 157th Dis­trict

The Phoenix - - FRONT PAGE - By Linda Stein lstein@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @lstein­re­porter on Twit­ter

Two can­di­dates are vy­ing to rep­re­sent vot­ers in the 157th state leg­isla­tive dis­trict: in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Warren Kampf and chal­lenger Melissa Shus­ter­man, a Demo­crat.

“I am a fourth-gen­er­a­tion res­i­dent of the Phoenixville area,” said Shus­ter­man. “I was raised here in the area, I went to lo­cal schools and I am a proud grad­u­ate of Con­estoga High School. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Lafayette Col­lege and ob­tain­ing a mas­ter’s from Amer­i­can Univer­sity, I moved back here to raise my own fam­ily.

“I am an en­tre­pre­neur and founded my own video pro­duc­tion com­pany while rais­ing my son as a sin­gle mother,” she said. “I have grown this busi­ness into a suc­cess­ful com­pany that works with me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions and com­pa­nies across the state and coun­try. I am also a Schuylkill Town­ship res­i­dent, wife of Hans and mother of Paris.”

Shus­ter­man added, “I am run­ning on a plat­form of ‘Com­mon Sense Be­fore Pol­i­tics,’ be­cause I be­lieve it is time for or­di­nary cit­i­zens to stand up,

run for of­fice and make our voices heard. We need to fight for the things we be­lieve. I never thought I would run for of­fice, but af­ter a trip to Har­ris­burg where I ob­served our state leg­is­la­tors sit­ting on their hands and do­ing noth­ing, I knew our state de­serves a change. Ca­reer politi­cians would rather play po­lit­i­cal games, point fin­gers and cater to spe­cial in­ter­ests than deal with the real prob­lem fac­ing our state, like mount­ing debt, crum­bling in­fra­struc­ture, down­trod­den schools, par­ti­san grid­lock and lack of care for the en­vi­ron­ment. I de­cided to work on all these is­sues.

“I want to use my small busi­ness acu­men to put our state back on a path of fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity, im­prove our pub­lic schools and fight for the causes our dis­trict holds dear. I will be a voice for my con­stituents, not a voice for party lead­ers or spe­cial in­ter­ests. I will bring in­de­pen­dence, grit and know-how I used to build my busi­ness to make a change in the leg­is­la­ture. I will be a proac­tive leader for our com­mon­wealth.”

For his part, Kampf, who was first elected in 2010, said, “I’m run­ning for of­fice again to con­tinue the progress we have made as a com­mu­nity over the past sev­eral years and to con­tinue to serve my neigh­bors. Prior to serv­ing in the state House, I served as a Tredyf­frin Town­ship su­per­vi­sor and made my liv­ing as an at­tor­ney. I was born and raised in our com­mu­nity, and my wife and I are rais­ing our two chil­dren, both of whom at­tend T/E pub­lic schools, here to­day.”

The two can­di­dates re­sponded to ques­tions from the Main Line Times & Sub­ur­ban.

The Tax Foun­da­tion ranks Penn­syl­va­nia 34th in the na­tion on taxes, with New Jer­sey at 50th and Delaware at 11th. If elected, what would you do to im­prove the tax bur­den on in­di­vid­u­als and cor­po­ra­tions?

“I would con­tinue the suc­cess­ful record we have started over the past sev­eral years,” said Kampf. “Work­ing with Gov. Wolf, we phased out the Cap­i­tal Stock & Fran­chise Tax to help small busi­nesses. At the same time, we stopped a pro­posed in­come tax in­crease and a sales tax ex­pan­sion that would have hurt small busi­nesses, work­ing fam­i­lies and re­tired se­niors.

“I also helped lead the fight on suc­cess­ful pub­lic pen­sion re­form that will save tax­pay­ers bil­lions of dol­lars over the long term and be­gin to get the pen­sion cri­sis un­der con­trol. Sadly, the spe­cial in­ter­ests who are spend­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars try­ing to de­feat me and elect my op­po­nent sup­port those tax in­creases and op­posed pen­sion re­form.”

Shus­ter­man re­sponded by say­ing, “What would Pa. Repub­li­cans like Rep. Kampf rather do than pass a sev­er­ance tax, which ev­ery other ma­jor oil/nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­ing state has? They would rather tax our cell­phone and gas bills. They would rather raise the ho­tel tax. They would rather bor­row close to $2 None bil­lion. of these mea­sures help put Pa. on a path to fis­cal sta­bil­ity. In­stead, Pa.

House Repub­li­cans hurt Penn­syl­va­nia’s credit rat­ing, in­crease debt and hurt Pa. fam­i­lies. Penn­syl­va­nia’s con­sti­tu­tion says that our ‘pub­lic nat­u­ral re­sources are the com­mon prop­erty of all the peo­ple, in­clud­ing gen­er­a­tions yet to come.’ We de­serve a sev­er­ance tax in re­turn for what fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies are do­ing to our state’s en­vi­ron­ment. tax and cri­sis,” “A would in help rea­son­able for she the state fix be said. 157th our fair rep­re­sen­ta­tive sev­er­ance “I’m Dis­trict bud­get for run­ning Pa. be­cause non­sense I’m in tired Har­ris­burg. of all the I would tax, not vote for for more a sev­er­ance taxes on Pa. fam­i­lies. I wouldn’t sup­port bor­row­ing bil­lions of dol­lars against our state’s fu­ture. Those kinds of mea­sures are ridicu­lous.”

She added, “Like a sev­er­ance tax, it is im­por­tant to make cor­po­ra­tions pay their fair share. Penn­syl­va­nia can cre­ate new streams of rev­enue by mak­ing large com­pa­nies pay their fair share. It is im­por­tant that cor­po­ra­tions pay their fair share in taxes be­cause if they don’t, in­di­vid­ual tax­pay­ers are forced to carry the bur­den. The best way to im­prove the tax bur­den for in­di­vid­u­als is to cre­ate a sev­er­ance tax and close the Delaware Loop­hole, both of which would make large cor­po­ra­tions pay their fair share. Warren Kampf is do­ing noth­ing like this to put Penn­syl­va­nian’s first. We need more com­mon sense in Har­ris­burg.” Asked what steps would they take to deal with the opi­oid cri­sis, the can­di­dates said: sys­tem, more “There ef­fec­tive,” those “One and are in we cracks ex­am­ple or­der said must in Shus­ter­man. to of ad­dress the be a crack the tran­si­tion in the sys­tem of go­ing is from in­pa­tient then the into big out­pa­tient world. There and is a higher risk of deaths dur­ing tran­si­tions. I have been knock­ing on thou­sands of doors and also have been told by par­ents who have lost a child that the in and out­pa­tient pro­grams are too short. “An­other ex­am­ple of a crack in the sys­tem is when some­one comes out of pri­son — peo­ple are off Med­ic­aid they no longer have cov­er­age — at risk,” she said. “We are not do­ing enough on preven­tion. We must re-vamp D.A.R.E pro­gram in high schools and add opi­oid train­ing. D.A.R.E cur­rently does not in­clude opi­oid dis­cus­sion. We must add more PSA an­nounce­ments that you don’t need opi­oids when you sprain your an­kle or go to the den­tist.” Also, pro­gram the “Nalox­one/Nar­can is do­ing well in Ch­ester County,” she said. “Let’s ex­tend it to all am­bu­lances through­out Pa.” She sug­gested bring­ing good pro­grams from Ch­ester County statewide.

“We need to re­mind peo­ple that no­body is im­mune,” said Shus­ter­man.

“As state rep­re­sen­ta­tive, it will be my job to make sure Penn­syl­va­ni­ans have ac­cess to the re­sources they need. I will work to make sure those af­fected by the opi­oid cri­sis have the tools they need to re­cover and not re­lapse. It is im­por­tant we work to help the most dis­ad­van­taged pop­u­la­tions in our state to im­prove qual­ity of life for ev­ery­one.”

Kampf said, “As rep­re­sen­ta­tive, I have worked with the gover­nor and mem­bers of both par­ties to pro­vide ad­di­tional fund­ing and pass new ini­tia­tives that in­crease ad­dic­tion preven­tion and treat­ment; open new ex­tended treat­ment cen­ters; limit opi­oid pre­scrip­tions to mi­nors and pa­tients leav­ing the ER (which has helped re­duce opi­oid pre­scrip­tions amongst mi­nors by 47 per­cent); track opi­oid sales to stop pre­scrip­tion shop­ping; and giv­ing law en­force­ment more tools to tar­get drug deal­ers. This is a fight I will not give up on un­til we can end the sense­less loss of life this epi­demic has caused.”

Asked what they would do to ad­dress in­equal­ity in school fund­ing, Kampf and Shus­ter­man also dif­fered.

“Again, this is an area where we have taken leaps for­ward over the past few years,” said Kampf. “To start, we have con­tin­ued to make ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing the top bud­get pri­or­ity, and I have voted ev­ery year to in­crease state fund­ing for schools. To­day we are at record lev­els — higher even than when tem­po­rary stim­u­lus funds were ap­plied to ed­u­ca­tion. Ad­di­tion­ally, we passed a bi­par­ti­san Ed­u­ca­tion Fund­ing For­mula that is help­ing ad­dress in­equal­ity in fund­ing, while also treat­ing school dis­tricts like those in the 157th more fairly.”

Shus­ter­man said, “Due to large cuts in our ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing over the last sev­eral years, our state is only con­tribut­ing 38 per­cent of the to­tal ed­u­ca­tion bud­get. The state is sup­posed to be re­spon­si­ble for 50 per­cent of the ed­u­ca­tion bud­get. I will work to make sure the state in­creases fund­ing to meet the promised amount. While ed­u­ca­tion spend­ing has in­creased in the past sev­eral bud­gets, politi­cians in Har­ris­burg have been si­phon­ing this ed­u­ca­tion spend­ing for char­ter schools and voucher pro­grams. It is im­por­tant that we make sure the money tax­pay­ers pay stay with our pub­lic schools. I sup­port the gover­nor’s school fund­ing for­mula that will help re­duce in­equal­ity in school fund­ing as well.”

The 157th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict cov­ers Schuylkill and Tredyf­frin town­ships and por­tions of Phoenixville Bor­ough and Up­per Prov­i­dence Town­ship.

State Rep. Warren Kampf

Melissa Shus­ter­man

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