Each week throughout the political campaign season, the Sun-Gazette has been asking candidates running for state and federal offices issue-oriented questions.
Candidates for state offices will consider one question; those for federal offices will take a separate question.
The candidates are:
5th Congress - Glenn "GT" Thompson, incumbent, Republican, and Charles Dumas, Democrat.
10th Congress - Thomas Marino, incumbent, Republican, and Phil Scollo, Democrat
23rd state Senate - E. Eugene Yaw, incumbent, Republican, and Luana Cleveland, Democrat.
83rd state House - Rick Mirabito, incumbent, Democrat, and Harry Rogers, Republican.
84th state House - Garth Everett, incumbent, Republican.
Question: What is the No. 1 issue you are hearing from people
this election season?
Rogers: "Jobs and education. They (people) want to have themselves in a position where they can afford homes and make a living. They want jobs. We are fortunate to have the gas industry here. But if that ever went away, we would be like much of the rest of Pennsylvania. You look at the amount of jobs we've lost in the state in recent years. We haven't felt that here due to the gas industry. But it's still a concern. Education is paramount. Parents want to make sure their kids are getting the proper education and school districts are getting sufficient funding. Everything anchors on a good educational system and good sustainable jobs."
Mirabito: "People often tell me they are concerned about jobs for themselves and their children. We need good-paying, family sustaining jobs. For over two decades, I have been invested in our local economy as a business owner creating jobs. As a state representative, I brought back $3 million for jobs and economic growth. This includes $1.5 million for Susquehanna Health, the county's largest employer; $1 million to Lycoming Engines, a manufacturing facility; and $500,000 for the Williamsport Downtown Development Project.
"Although the government does not directly create jobs, elected officials can use certain tools to spur job creation. I sponsored House Bill 1399 which would create a new Marcellus Shale Job Creation Tax Credit program as an incentive for companies in the natural gas industry to hire Pennsylvania workers. The tax credit is implemented in conjunction with a severance tax.
"Thus, we collect a severance tax as do 38 other states, and we reward companies that create jobs for Pennsylvanians by offering a tax credit. Focused tax credits like HB 1399 are not blind corporate giveaways and help create jobs.
"We still have work to do. We need to rebuild our roads and bridges so we have infrastructure for business development. And we need an educated and trained workforce. The unemployment rate in Williamsport was 8.7 percent last month, higher than the state's unemployment rate. I will continue advocating for good-paying jobs right here in rural Pennsylvania."
Cleveland: "The way we were run over by Act 13 and the impact fee. The other issues I'm hearing about are how to make up funding as a direct result of not passing a gas severance tax. Also, the human services cuts, the cuts to education. Human service cuts hurt the most vulnerable who have no voice. The impact fee amounts are not adequate for municipalities considering what they have to put up with."
Yaw: "Jobs and the economy. Even though we have been fortunate to be in an economic bubble due to the gas industry, the rest of the country hasn't had the same benefit. As a result, what people see is what's going on elsewhere. The concern is more for the general economy than for their own personal well-being. They think if the economy is bad everywhere else, is that going to affect them. There's just no question that jobs and the economy outweigh everything else."
Everett: "The No. 1 thing I'm hearing is people are concerned about the economy and jobs. I don't know if that ever changes much. I hear a lot of discussion about the gas industry. That is still the pre-eminent topic in Lycoming County. With Act 13 and the money going out there from the impact fee, that has kind of peaked their interest. People also want to know what we are doing with property tax reform. People feel that they got short-changed on the gambling revenues because the money doesn't all go to alleviating real estate taxes as was intended."
Is the U.S. on the right track in its foreign policy decisions? Why or Why not?
Scollo: "Yes, we've been on the right path. We got out of Iraq safely, Osama bin Laden is dead and Gaddafi has been toppled. We still need a better plan in Afghanistan. We have accomplished the goals we achieved when we went in: Osama bin Laden dead, al-Qaida on the run and the Taliban out of power. It's time to come home - the thing we must do as we leave is make sure the Taliban and al-Qaida do not surge into the vacuum left when we leave. As our troops continue to come home, the VA must remain fully funded: to care for our heroes returning from overseas today and to serve the heroes of prior conflicts.
"Particular attention must be paid to the psychological and emotional issues too many of our young men and women are facing. They must know that we stand with them and support them as they return to their homes, their families and civilian lives.
"This is no time to cut funding at the Tobyhanna Army Depot, which Tom Marino voted twice to do, and it's certainly no time to be cutting VA funding by 13 percent, which is what Tom Marino voted to do."
Marino: "The most concerning example is Iran's nuclear program. Unquestionably, a nuclear capable Iran is the world's greatest security threat, and President Obama has not taken steps necessary to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions. While I applaud congressional action in imposing the strictest sanctions against Iran in history, more must be done. Point blank, the sanctions haven't halted Iran's nuclear program. Libya is another unfortunate example of where the Obama Administration foreign policy has failed and, even worse, the Administration refuses to come clean to the American people about its role in the aftermath. The President and his administration originally blamed the Libya attack on a spontaneous protest against a video, but then were forced to acknowledge that it was indeed terrorism. Now the Administration refuses to answer basic questions about the attack and death of one of our ambassadors in the face of very concerning evidence about what the administration knew, when it knew it, and how it responded.
"Finally, the administration's policies have failed in Syria, Iran's greatest ally, where President Asad's regime has used the country's military against its own citizens for nearly two years, resulting in the death of over 25,000 people. President Obama has not been aggressive enough to end the conflict in and stabilize Syria, which has resulted in multiple Islamic extremists and groups with ties to al-Qaida attempting to hijack Syria's revolution in order to gain control of the country.
"I believe that we cannot achieve the U.S. foreign policy goals by 'leading from behind.' Leading requires us to face difficult issues head-on and be open and honest with the American people. These are not Republican priorities or Democrat priorities, they're national priorities, and I look forward to working with colleagues in both parties to produce a foreign policy agenda to permanently put the United States on the right path."
Dumas: "Yes. I think the obvious answer is that we have a creative and progressive leadership from the President and the secretary of state and people around them. The notion of demilitarizing our role and not be the policeman of world so we can promote democracy and communications. So, yes we are on the right track. And we are on the right track because of the leadership we have and the process we have with negotiating and promoting democratic ideals. At times it's tough."
Thompson: "No. I believe that it has not been a good policy the past few years. I believe that the Obama Administration has really been demonstrating a fatally flawed foreign policy. No. 1: Look what happened in Libya. It cost us the lives of four including the ambassador. More and more on this is coming out. Why was a Marine detachment taken from there? Obama believes in making peace with the Muslim world.
"Then, we look at what's happened in Afghanistan. I don't have a problem with the withdrawal date. My problem is the enemy knows our withdrawal date. We have trained Afghan people in preparing. But the Taliban knows when we are leaving. It's poor foreign policy by revealing strategy to your enemies. I believe we are prematurely drawing down troops in Afghanistan purely to satisfy the Obama political base. I am afraid it's going to cost us more lives."