Col­lett, Green­leaf Jr. square off in 12th Se­na­to­rial District

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - NEWS - By Dan Sokil dsokil@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Dan­sokil on Twit­ter

Two new can­di­dates, one with a very fa­mil­iar name, are fac­ing off for the 12th District State Se­nate seat long held by re­tir­ing Repub­li­can Ste­wart Green­leaf.

Ste­wart Green­leaf Jr. is squar­ing off against Demo­crat Maria Col­lett for a fouryear term in Harrisburg. The 12th District is lo­cated in parts of both Bucks and Mont­gomery coun­ties and in­cludes parts of Up­per Southamp­ton, Warmin­ster and War­ring­ton Town­ships in Bucks County and Fran­co­nia, Hat­field, Hor­sham, Lower Gwynedd, Lower More­land, Mont­gomery, Up­per Gwynedd and Up­per More­land Town­ships and Am­bler, Bryn Athyn, Hatboro, Hat­field, North Wales, Soud­er­ton and Telford Bor­oughs.

Both can­di­dates were asked the same ques­tions, and below are their an­swers.

Col­lett DE­SCRIBE YOUR BACK­GROUND, AND WHY YOU ARE RUN­NING.

I have spent my ca­reer fight­ing for and serv­ing peo­ple. First as an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­ests of chil­dren vic­tim­ized by abuse and ne­glect as a Deputy At­tor­ney General in Cam­den County, New Jersey, and then as a nurse work­ing at the bed­side as a Level I trauma nurse, in pe­di­atric home health, in longterm care work­ing with ag­ing adults and as a nurse ed­u­ca­tor help­ing nurses un­der­stand how to ad­min­is­ter Med­i­caid pro­grams.

In or­der to be suc­cess­ful in each of these roles, I learned the im­por­tance of op­er­at­ing with con­vic­tion AND com­pas­sion. I am run­ning be­cause Harrisburg is bro­ken and we need new voices who will fight for the in­ter­ests of the peo­ple in­stead of spe­cial in­ter­ests.

I will work hard to make af­ford­able, qual­ity health­care ac­ces­si­ble; to en­sure our econ­omy works for all Penn­syl­va­ni­ans; to make sure our com­mu­ni­ties have ac­cess to clean, safe drink­ing wa­ter; to sup­port com­mon sense gun safety leg­is­la­tion; and to sup­port our great pub­lic schools. I look for­ward to rolling up my sleeves in Harrisburg and do­ing the hard work nec­es­sary to make sure that our Leg­is­la­ture rep­re­sents all of us.

WHAT MAKES YOUR BACK­GROUND AND EX­PE­RI­ENCE DIF­FER­ENT FROM YOUR OP­PO­NENT?

I am not a ca­reer politi­cian. I am not from a fam­ily of politi­cians. My fa­ther is an im­mi­grant. My mother grew up in poverty. I was taught the val­ues of ed­u­ca­tion and hard work from a very young age. As an at­tor­ney, I de­fended chil­dren vic­tim­ized by abuse and ne­glect while my op­po­nent went to work for his fa­ther’s law firm, of­ten de­fend­ing cor­po­ra­tions against the lit­tle guy.

I then tran­si­tioned to a ca­reer in nurs­ing, where I con­tin­ued serv­ing peo­ple and fight­ing to im­prove their qual­ity of life. As a nurse, I’m trained to treat prob­lems through ob­ser­va­tion and di­ag­nos­tic rea­son­ing and advocate for ev­i­dence-based so­lu­tions. When some­one calls a code in a hos­pi­tal, nurses drop ev­ery­thing and run to it. For years now, many peo­ple have been call­ing a code in Harrisburg and I’m ready to run to it and im­ple­ment the so­lu­tions our lead­ers have failed to find for too many years. With my back­ground and ex­pe­ri­ence, I will bring a new voice and per­spec­tive to the leg­is­la­ture.

WHICH MAIN IS­SUES HAVE BEEN RAISED THE MOST BY RES­I­DENTS? YOUR PO­SI­TION OR VIEWS ON THOSE?

The con­cerns we hear most fre­quently are about our en­vi­ron­ment, health care, and gun safety. One of the most press­ing is­sues fac­ing this district is the wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion at lo­cal mil­i­tary bases. Harrisburg has been gut­ting our state’s DEP (De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion) to the point it doesn’t have the re­sources to en­force its own clean wa­ter stan­dards. I am proud to be en­dorsed by the Sierra Club and Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers of PA and will fight to stop gut­ting our DEP, ex­pand DOH (De­part­ment of Health) re­sources for res­i­dents con­cerned about ex­po­sure, and pres­sure the fed­eral govern­ment to act more swiftly and pay its fair share.

With re­spect to health­care, there is a lot we can do at the state level, in­clud­ing con­tin­u­ing to ex­er­cise the Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion un­der the ACA (Af­ford­able Care Act) and rene­go­ti­at­ing con­tracts to get the best treat­ment and ser­vices at the best rates. We can also out­law “gag or­ders” that pro­hibit health­care pro­fes­sion­als

from dis­clos­ing cost fac­tors of pre­scrip­tion drugs with pa­tients.

I am proud to be en­dorsed by Cease­fire PA and have the Moms De­mand Ac­tion Gun Sense Can­di­date dis­tinc­tion. As a nurse, I rec­og­nize gun vi­o­lence for the pub­lic health epi­demic it is. I be­lieve we need a proac­tive, mul­ti­pronged ap­proach to ad­dress it while also re­spect­ing the con­sti­tu­tional right of Penn­syl­va­ni­ans to bear arms.

HOW WOULD YOU HAN­DLE OR AD­DRESS THE STATE’S ON­GO­ING BUD­GET IS­SUES?

Our leg­is­la­ture has not acted re­spon­si­bly with our money. It’s re­peat­edly failed to bal­ance the bud­get, mis­man­aged pub­lic pen­sions, and al­lowed our state’s credit rat­ing to be down­graded six times. We need bet­ter man­age­ment and greater trans­parency.

We need to ex­plore new rev­enue streams. It is un­ac­cept­able that Penn­syl­va­nia re­mains the only ma­jor nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­ing state with­out a sev­er­ance tax. We need to in­crease the min­i­mum wage. Even a mod­est in­crease would add nearly $1 bil­lion into work­ers’ pay­checks and boost our econ­omy.

We need to of­fer in­cen­tives for peo­ple to pur­sue tech­ni­cal ed­u­ca­tion and job train­ing pro­grams that will en­able them to com­pete in to­day’s mod­ern work­force and at­tract new busi­nesses (in­clud­ing green and re­new­able en­ergy, new tech­nol­ogy and mod­ern man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­nesses) to Penn­syl­va­nia.

And we need to close cor­po­rate tax loop­holes and en­sure that large cor­po­ra­tions pay their fair share. Right now, the tax rate on small and mid-sized busi­nesses is very high while the tax on large cor­po­ra­tions is next to noth­ing. This is un­fair and hurts small busi­ness own­ers and ev­ery­day Penn­syl­va­ni­ans. Nearly three­quar­ters of Penn­syl­va­nia’s com­pa­nies pay no in­come tax and 80 per­cent pay less than the av­er­age fam­ily of four.

DO YOU SEE THE NA­TIONAL PO­LIT­I­CAL CLI­MATE IM­PACT­ING YOUR LO­CAL RACE? IF SO, WHY OR WHY NOT?

We hear a lot of con­cerns from vot­ers about what is hap­pen­ing na­tion­ally — from hy­per­par­ti­san bick­er­ing and empty prom­ises to con­cerns about the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies and how they will af­fect us here in Penn­syl­va­nia. I share vot­ers’ con­cerns about the na­tional cli­mate. I also know that there is a lot to do — and a lot that can be done — right here in Penn­syl­va­nia to im­prove our com­mu­ni­ties and build a bet­ter fu­ture for our fam­i­lies, re­gard­less of what is hap­pen­ing in Wash­ing­ton. I look for­ward to bring­ing my per­sonal sense of ci­vil­ity, com­mon sense, com­pro­mise and hard work to Harrisburg.

As an at­tor­ney and a nurse, I’ve learned how to lis­ten and col­lab­o­rate while de­lib­er­at­ing is­sues and iden­ti­fy­ing so­lu­tions. In the state Se­nate, I will build re­la­tion­ships on both sides of the aisle and with of­fi­cials at all lev­els to af­fect re­sults that best serve the res­i­dents of my district.

Green­leaf DE­SCRIBE YOUR BACK­GROUND, AND WHY YOU ARE RUN­NING.

I am run­ning for state Se­nate be­cause, as a fourth­gen­er­a­tion mem­ber of our com­mu­nity, rais­ing a fifth gen­er­a­tion here, I want to help our com­mu­nity pros­per.

Born and raised in Up­per More­land, I at­tended lo­cal schools be­fore col­lege and law school. I re­turned home and be­came in­volved in the com­mu­nity, vol­un­teer­ing my time as an at­tor­ney for child vic­tims of abuse, serv­ing on the board of Le­gal Aid to pro­vide le­gal help to un­der­priv­i­leged fam­i­lies, and vol­un­teer­ing with my lo­cal parks and li­brary boards.

In 2011, I was elected Mont­gomery County’s Con­troller. There I worked with Democrats and Repub­li­cans to un­cover fraud and eth­i­cal vi­o­la­tions, save tax dol­lars, and fix an of­fice that — un­til my ten­ure — had lost the pub­lic’s con­fi­dence. Hav­ing kept my prom­ise to re­store the of­fice to its role as “fis­cal watch­dog” in my first term, I chose not to run for re-elec­tion and re­turned to the pri­vate sec­tor to prac­tice law and con­tinue my vol­un­teer ef­forts.

My ex­pe­ri­ences as an elected of­fi­cial, an at­tor­ney, and a com­mu­nity vol­un­teer have shown me how to bridge dif­fer­ences, look at all sides of an is­sue and build con­sen­sus. As se­na­tor, I will do the same.

WHAT MAKES YOUR BACK­GROUND AND EX­PE­RI­ENCE DIF­FER­ENT FROM YOUR OP­PO­NENT?

As a for­mer County Con­troller, I am a proven elected of­fi­cial with a record of gov­ern­ing in­de­pen­dently to pro­tect tax­pay­ers, lis­ten­ing to con­stituents, de­vel­op­ing so­lu­tions for com­plex prob­lems, and lead­ing by ex­am­ple. I have also been an ac­tive and en­gaged cit­i­zen — on is­sues like the wa­ter qual­ity at Wil­low Grove and fight­ing for neigh­bor­hood needs. My op­po­nent never in­volved her­self in any of these things un­til she be­came a can­di­date for of­fice; in fact, she didn’t even vote in 66 per­cent of the elec­tions since mov­ing to our com­mu­nity in 2012. More im­por­tantly, I am in­de­pen­dent. My sup­port comes from cit­i­zens across our com­mu­nity who have known me for years; my op­po­nent is sup­ported by spe­cial in­ter­ests whose rad­i­cal agenda doesn’t match our in­ter­ests.

Fi­nally, county gov­ern­ments are of­ten the con­duit for leg­isla­tive poli­cies en­acted in Harrisburg, in­clud­ing hu­man ser­vices, crim­i­nal jus­tice mea­sures and fis­cal poli­cies. As Con­troller, I ex­pe­ri­enced first­hand the im­ple­men­ta­tion of those poli­cies and their hu­man and fis­cal im­pacts. My record as Con­troller, my work as a com­mu­nity vol­un­teer, and my un­der­stand­ing of the chal­lenges our fam­i­lies face as a hus­band and fa­ther pro­vide me with the un­der­stand­ing of the is­sues nec­es­sary to rep­re­sent the 12th Se­nate District.

WHICH MAIN IS­SUES HAVE BEEN RAISED THE MOST BY RES­I­DENTS? YOUR PO­SI­TION OR VIEWS ON THOSE?

The need for fis­cal dis­ci­pline is the most press­ing chal­lenge fac­ing Penn­syl­va­nia and the is­sue I hear most con­sis­tently from res­i­dents as I have per­son­ally knocked on more than 12,000 doors dur­ing this cam­paign. Solv­ing that fis­cal chal­lenge re­quires that we get our pri­or­i­ties straight. We must make ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing and in­fra­struc­ture the top bud­get pri­or­i­ties and end cor­po­rate wel­fare, such as sports sta­dium sub­si­dies and trans­fers to the horse-rac­ing in­dus­try worth hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars, and use that money for ed­u­ca­tion and fix­ing the pen­sion short­fall. We must bet­ter con­trol costs on things like cor­rec­tions, which takes too much money away from pri­or­i­ties. “Smart on crime” re­forms can keep our neigh­bor­hoods safe, re­duce the cost to tax­pay­ers and re­duce the col­lat­eral dam­age to fam­i­lies, which ul­ti­mately re­sults in higher so­cial wel­fare and crim­i­nal jus­tice costs for the tax­payer in the long run.

HOW WOULD YOU HAN­DLE OR AD­DRESS THE STATE’S ON­GO­ING BUD­GET IS­SUES?

Again, to con­trol costs we must first get our bud­getary pri­or­i­ties, like ed­u­ca­tion and in­fra­struc­ture, straight. We must ad­dress the mas­sive pen­sion short­fall. Per­son­ally, I re­fused a pen­sion as con­troller and will do so as se­na­tor. The changes al­ready made to the sys­tem that in­tro­duced a 401(k) type sys­tem should be al­lowed to take ef­fect, but, in the near term, we should con­sol­i­date the myr­iad mu­nic­i­pal pen­sion plans in Penn­syl­va­nia — which num­ber more than those in all other states com­bined — to save mil­lions on ad­min­is­tra­tive fees.

On the rev­enue side, Penn­syl­va­nia is one of the least at­trac­tive states to do busi­ness in due to a cor­po­rate tax among the high­est in the na­tion and an un­pre­dictable reg­u­la­tory struc­ture. I will pro­mote a plan of smart tax re­form and reg­u­la­tory re­form that pro­tects our com­mu­ni­ties while still en­cour­ag­ing eco­nomic and re­sult­ing tax rev­enue growth.

DO YOU SEE THE NA­TIONAL PO­LIT­I­CAL CLI­MATE IM­PACT­ING YOUR LO­CAL RACE? IF SO, WHY OR WHY NOT?

No. The vast ma­jor­ity of vot­ers in Mont­gomery and Bucks Coun­ties have al­ways voted in­de­pen­dently — mak­ing their choice on the can­di­dates rather than on po­lit­i­cal party. They also know the dif­fer­ence be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Harrisburg. Lo­cal vot­ers choose their leg­is­la­tors based on the ex­pe­ri­ence, qual­i­fi­ca­tions and ideas of the in­di­vid­ual can­di­dates. I have per­son­ally knocked on more than 12,000 doors dur­ing this cam­paign and I hear time and again, from in­de­pen­dents, Democrats and Repub­li­cans alike, that they will vote for the can­di­date, not po­lit­i­cal party alone.

Ste­wart Green­leaf Jr.

Maria Col­lett

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.