MANSFIELD - The three men vying for the seat that soon will be vacated by U.S. Rep. John E. Peterson, R-Pleasantville, who retires this year, spent the better part of three hours Monday night trying to convince a full house at Mansfield University's Straughn Hall why each would be the best man for the job.
Dr. Jeffrey Bosworth, associate professor of political science, moderated the debate, which spotlighted Jim Fryman, L-Franklin; Mark McCracken, D-Clearfield; and Glenn Thompson, R-Howard, as they answered questions that had been selected in advance from those submitted to the debate's sponsors, the Tioga County Development Corp. of Wellsboro.
From taxes to the war in Iraq, the three all had very different viewpoints, but were given only two minutes to expound upon them.
On the question of what character and values the men felt they had that qualify them for office, McCracken, a Clearfield County commissioner, spoke about his experience working with other commissioners as a member of the state county commissioner's association.
"I am a very hands-on elected official. If someone comes to me with an issue, I have the ability to look at problems and will commit my resources to resolve them," he said.
Thompson said he felt his 30 years of living and working in the health care community was about service to others.
"Service has been what my life has been about," the father of three grown sons told the audience.
Fryman said he believes "we're on this planet to help other people.
"I am good at dealing with people one on one, in stressful situations," he said.
With the federal government facing more than a $10 trillion debt, and standing on the brink of a global recession, Thompson said the government needs to learn to "live within its means.
"We have to cut spending, but I also would work hard to make the 2001-03 tax cuts permanent," he said.
Fryman said that Thompson sounded a little like a Libertarian in that he wants to downsize government.
"Government has to be a lot smaller," he said.
McCracken said Congress would have to make budget cuts and program cuts.
"We have to look at it as is this something we want or something we need, like most American families do," he said.
On giving out tax cuts, Thompson said if the Bush tax cuts aren't made permanent, it will "amount to the biggest tax hike in the history of our nation.
"Over 70 percent of small business pays those taxes. How many of those jobs will go away if those tax cuts are allowed to expire?" he said.
Fryman said eliminating the corporate income tax and simplifying the tax code for workers is what is needed.
McCracken said that the "Bush debt is going to be our debt.
"$30,000 per person is going to be on our backs," he said.
On the war in Iraq, Thompson and Fryman said they would not support a bill that contains a timeline for withdrawal of troops there, and McCracken said he wants to see troops out of Iraq within 18 months.
The three men seemed to agree somewhat on the three biggest threats to our national security.
Fryman said he thought "religious terrorism was first and our reaction to it second or third."
"I think this current administration has taken away more of my freedoms than Osama bin Laden ever did," he said.
McCracken said he thought the nuclear threat from other nations such as Iran and North Korea was a big threat, and to a lesser degree the national debt owed to foreign governments like China.
Thompson said he too thought the nuclear weapons development by other nations like North Korea and Iran, but first and foremost is "our dependence on foreign energy."
"We need a comprehensive energy plan to produce our own energy," he said.
All three said if they had been serving in Congress when the $700 billion bail out package was proposed that they wouldn't have voted for it because it only added to the national debt.