Two vie to represent 157th District
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