Two candidates are seeking the Republican nomination for the 83rd state House seat.
Steven W. Cappelli, 46, of Williamsport held the seat for four terms before giving it up to run unsuccessfully for state Senate in 2008.
Cappelli is vice president of Henry Dunn Inc. in Williamsport.
David Huffman, 51, of Cogan Station is a former Williamsport Area School Board member who lost a bid in 2008 to capture the 83rd House seat now held by Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport.
Mirabito is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
Huffman is employed as an educator.
The winner of the Republican primary will take on Mirabito, D-Williamsport, in the November election.
Why are you running for state House?
Huffman: "I represent more of the reformed effort, the Constitutionalist and conservative who is into public service, not personal service. I'm serious about what I say. I mean what I say. I will not take any perks or pay raises. I will pledge not to put a tax burden on citizens. I would work to eliminate property taxes for everyone. I will not buy into schemes like gambling which were empty promises to begin with. People who know me know I have a track record, because I voted against all tax increases when I served on the school board. I'm a strong fiscal conservative serious about cutting taxes and eliminating wasteful spending. I will only serve for eight years in the district. I think people want to see that. They are tired of these career politicians. I am not a modern-day politician who just tells people what they want to hear to get elected."
Cappelli: "I am running because I truly enjoy public service. I see a great number of challenges facing the area, job creation being first and foremost. Crime and public safety continue to be a problem. I don't see much progress in either area. It's important we have someone in Harrisburg who won't take no for an answer when we request things we need. My experience shows I can produce for our area. Whether it's for business or individuals, I can build on the eight years I had down there in Harrisburg, making sure the needs of our community are satisfied."
What qualifies you to be a state lawmaker?
Huffman: "I served on a school board which is great training for any office. The Legislature controls school boards across the state. Education is the second biggest expenditure in the state, so you need to have a good understanding of it. I have worked as an educator and as an educator-administrator ... With an MBA and experience in running a business, I know what you have to do. I was a legislative aide."
Cappelli: "I certainly think my tenure as Williamsport mayor and time in Harrisburg. I have received statewide recognition as a lawmaker from the Pennsylvania Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, the Pennsylvania Library Association on work for public education and literacy, and the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities. I have experience and I have brought results."
With the state budget facing fiscal problems, what solution do you propose for balancing it?
Huffman: "Until you're in there (as a state legislator), it's hard to say. You at least have to have the guts to go in there. You have to be willing to make the cuts and cut the spending. I don't pretend to be an expert in the field. But you need someone in there with fresh ideas ... To talk about other solutions without first cutting spending, you are putting the cart before the horse."
Cappelli:?"In one word: prioritize. We are currently facing a $1.3 billion deficit. But that's just in the budget that was passed by House Democrats including Rick Mirabito. That contained $850 million in federal stimulus money that does not exist. It also includes tolling revenue. If you include the MCare fund the House Democrats took for this year's budget, they must now reimburse hundreds of millions more. All together it's $3.1 billion. If we don't prioritize spending now, and look at doable cuts, we have one option left - massive tax hikes."
What is the single biggest problem facing the 83rd District and what can be done to resolve it?
Huffman: "When we allow people like Steve Cappelli and Rick Mirabito, who are self-serving politicians, to provide us with leadership instead of a person who is sincere about the issues. To be honest with you that's the No. 1 issue. I would love to talk about specific issues, but we have people who just want to be elected. They will not talk about issues. They would rather assassinate people's characters. ... I am concerned about all of the issues that affect us from transportation to Marcellus Shale, to economic development and crime. Those are certainly important issues and I have been specific in the past about how I want to address those."
Cappelli: "I think the biggest issue facing the area is the continued lack of looking at economic growth. We have a just under 10-percent jobless rate. We are not seeing the job creation that we need especially for semi-skilled and skilled labor. You can only grow health care so far. We need more private sector investment. We need state tax and regulatory policies that promote growth ... We need to ensure people have jobs and family sustaining jobs. People still have concern about crime. We need support for law enforcement."
What are the biggest oversights state lawmakers are making?
Huffman:?"I think there is so much oversight in so many areas. As a legislator I think you have to be a generalist. You don't want to overlook anything. Fiscal responsibility. I mean, that's why we have the budget problems to begin with ... We have a personal income tax of 3.07 percent. That needs to be reduced. Our business taxes are too high. We've lost our manufacturing jobs ... Some of the decisions we are making are driving businesses away from the state. We rank near the bottom in the nation in job growth. We are in the top 10 among states in tax burden."
Cappelli: "Clearly, tax reform at all levels frustrates property owners and the like. My sales tax proposal was always ignored. The state has a corporate net income tax of 9.9 percent. I'd hate to see what gas companies are already paying. People like Rick Mirabito want to assess the gas companies. We need to put it up for referendum. It would be voted down. Right now there is something going on in Louisiana with much less regulation. Our tax policies handicap us when compared to neighboring states. We need to be less concerned about the status quo. Then more will get done ... At every level, we are too big, too costly. I support a Constitutional Convention to allow residents to decide on various issues."
What are your thoughts for reforming state government?
Huffman:?"We need to change the face of the Legislature. We need more reform people in there instead of people serving themselves, who are serious about cutting the spending, who have the moral conviction to make those tough choices, who are not career politicians. We need a leadership with a work ethic, people with the moral compass, which I believe I do. Get all people involved in the district, and be a consensus builder. Get more input from people in the district. More involvement from the citizens. The legislator is an important person, but is more of a liaison sometimes. Reform should be done more with a true conservative agenda. Government is the problem, not the solution. If we remember that, we could go a long way toward reforming. But government keeps growing and is becoming more intrusive in our lives."
Cappelli:?"I support term limits and a Constitutional Convention. If voters think government is too large, they should be able to vote on reducing it. I support election of state judges - a neutral, bipartisan commission. We should not have appellate judges selected with trial lawyer money, who often find themselves before those same judges. That's just wrong. We should encourage municipal cooperation whether through consolidation to bring less costly services. This can be for needs such as wastewater. I don't think we need to force feed consolidation. But we haven't done enough to reward those that can improve delivery of service. I think that is something we need to take a look at. We need to look at how Pennsylvania currently restricts or impedes greater levels of cooperation."
What is your single greatest accomplishment as a government official?
Huffman:?"I don't have a single greatest accomplishment. I think just representing people by demonstrating overall values and principles and a work ethic. Paying attention to everything. To say that I have a single biggest accomplishment would make other things seem like less of accomplishments. But I think everyone knows that as a public servant on the school board I did not vote no on everything. I was there to support most of the educational programming. I was the biggest influence in establishing a finance commission on the board. I am proud of that. I realized there was a need for that. We wanted to avoid raising taxes at a time when enrollment was declining. It was all about saving property taxpayers money. So if you had to single out any single greatest accomplishment, that would be it."
Cappelli:?"I think working in Harrisburg to ensure that our area had support and assistance it needed when faced with tough issues. I can point to assisting municipalities faced with mandated sewer costs and bringing millions of dollars to create jobs. I literally helped save and create jobs at J&L, Textron, Susquehanna Health. Almost every volunteer firefighter and police group was helped during my tenure. Our tax money should not go to Philly or Pittsburgh. It should come back to us to ensure we have good infrastructure and to create jobs. That's one reason I'm running again. We are not getting any support from Harrisburg. We have a Chesapeake Bay mandate that is crushing our area. The people in the Williamsport Water and Sanitary service area are paying out the nose. We are facing multi-million dollars in mandated costs and have not seen a cent from the state."
What is the biggest misconception about you?
Huffman:?"I am an honest, forthright person. Modern day politics is more about winning and because I have been involved in the political process extensively in this area of Lycoming County I have been subjected to political realities that are no different than any other person would be subjected to. Part of those political realities involve others gaining an unfair advantage through lies and slander. It's not that I am any different from the common ordinary person. It's just that when you are in the political world running for office, you can be subjected to the dirty tricks of a campaign. The problem is that there is really no recourse once your character has been assassinated because there are different rules that apply to a person seeking political office."
Cappelli: "I think people may think I'm a little arrogant or I express my feelings or remarks too much. Ultimately, the people who hire and fire you should understand you have a clear grip on the issues. I am not going down to Harrisburg to vote my will on all the issues. You are never going to know or find consensus on every issue. You should strive to make your conscience reflect the conscience back home. I am not going to tell you what I think you want to hear. I am going to tell you what I think you need to know, because that's how I act on the issues, by being educated on the issues."
Who is Dave Huffman?
Huffman: "The person who would be honored to serve you in the 83rd District.
Who is Steve Cappelli?
Cappelli: "He's a home-grown Williamsport guy who has a beautiful wife and three children and grandchildren. He spent time here living and working. Now I'm trying to give back. I truly love this community."