The ReThink Blog

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The Pennsylvania Ballot 2012 - Page 2

Diana VaughanRobert McCordPatricia Fryman

While the Auditor General is considered the fiscal watchdog of the state government, the pursestrings really belong to the State Treasurer. The Treasury's own website puts its duties thusly: "We are a fiscal watchdog that ensures tens of billions of dollars in payments are lawful and correct. We also operate innovative programs that generate positive returns for taxpayers and improve the economic security of Pennsylvania’s citizens." Democrat Robert McCord was elected to head the Treasury in 2008 and is seeking re-election this year.

Five-term Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan is the Republican challenger. She claims to have "balanced seven consecutive budgets without increasing taxes," proudly talks about her opposition to cable television for prison inmates, and raised 6,000 jobs in her county, making it the third highest ranked county in the nation for job creation. In addition to her role as County Commissioner, she has served on many community boards, such as the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, the Pittsburgh Regional Allliance, the Southwestern Pennsylvania Growth Alliance, and the Port of Pittsburgh Commission.

The incumbent, Robert McCord, has had a good run over the last four years. Through savvy investments and budget cutting, he boasts a $1.4 billion increase in revenue and a 22 percent reduction in spending during his tenure. As his website puts it, "The result is improved pension security for seniors, better access to higher education funding for students, and savings for Pennsylvania taxpayers." The Treasury successfully streamlined the income tax auditing process while drastically reducing the amount of audits being done, slashed the office's workforce by 19%, improved funding for the PA 529 College Savings Program, limited property tax increases at school districts, and much more.

The final option on the ballot is Patricia Fryman, the Libertarian candidate. A retired three-term Auditor for Venango County, she has experience with fiscal matters, and as a Libertarian, she promises to be free of party coercion. Her position paper states that her primary concerns as State Treasurer would be to scrutinize and challenge every penny of spending, to reduce what she sees as gross waste by the Turnpike Commission, and to ensure that legislators aren't making "many times over the benefits of regular citizens."

This is one of those instances where I think any of the three candidates would do a fine job. Commissioner Vaughan is a good choice when it comes to maintaining a balanced budget and creating jobs, but Robert McCord's record speaks for itself. I'm tempted to vote for McCord as the incumbent, simply because I see no reason to protest the job he's done thus far, but I will instead give my vote to Patricia Fryman. Though I doubt she will win even ten percent of the vote, I think it is important to help out the Libertarian Party in its struggle to be recognized as a legitimate political voice.

Charlie DentRick Daugherty

Seeking re-election as one of Pennsylvania's representatives in the U.S. House, Charles Dent is a centrist Republican who has repeatedly broken with his own party by voting for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," promoting the rollout of commercial hydrogen fueling stations, and advocating a federal ban of online poker. However, he did vote for Paul Ryan's 2012 budget proposal, supports a reformed tax code that lowers rates, seeks to increase American energy production and cut regulations, wants to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, has voted for the Balanced Budget Amendment, and encourages the development of clean coal, nuclear energy, natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Rick Daugherty, chairman of the Lehigh County Democratic Party, is his challenger. He is a staunch opponent of the Ryan plan to reform Medicare, has no desire to change Social Security, believes that free trade agreements "ship jobs overseas," and wants to drastically cut the defense budget, which would change our "national security priorities" to "cyber security, border protection, enhanced international intelligence, and diplomacy."

This one isn't even close. Of couse I'm voting for Charlie Dent. If you need me to explain my reasons, this is obviously the first political blog of mine you've ever read.

Kenneth BarretoSteve Samuelson

In my district, the Republican candidate for the Pennsylvania General Assembly is Kenneth Barreto, a Lehigh County Prison corrections officer and decorated soldier in the United States Army who actively served in Iraq. On his website, he lists as his priorities job creation, lower property taxes (especially in regards to schools), equal per-student funding for every school district, changing the pension system to a defined contribution system as opposed to a defined benefit, and eliminating excessive spending.

Steve Samuelson is the Democratic incumbent. He doesn't appear to have his own website, but a quick browse of his voting record paints a picture of a man who opposes tax exemptions, gas drilling "in certain areas," expanded red light cameras, and vouchers for charter schools. He voted for an expansion of wiretapping laws, permitting the sale of alcoholic beverages at distilleries, and establishing a natural gas severence tax.

There's not a whole lot to go on here, but I am not at all impressed by Representative Samuelson's voting record. Mr. Barreto, on the other hand, strikes me as a reasonable conservative, a more transparent figure, and a genuine public servant--dare I say patriot--not tainted by politics. As a result, I am voting for him.

Given my right-leaning Libertarian tendencies (or Libertarian-leaning Republican tendencies, if you prefer), it is hardly surprising that I haven't chosen to vote for a single Democrat in any of the above races. Still, I want to assure you that I seriously considered it (and almost decided to pick Robert McCord for State Treasurer) and tried vigilantly to keep my partisan inclinations from prejudging the candidates. If you disagree with my reasoning (and I'm sure you probably do), please feel free to comment below. Reasonable discourse and open opinions are what democratic elections are supposed to be about, right?

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-e. magill 10/16/2012


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