Congressman Glenn "GT" Thompson is the incumbent politician seeking the Republican nomination for the 5th Congressional District, which covers 16 counties from east of Erie to portions of Tioga County, south to northern Huntington County and west to Venango County.
Kerith Strano-Taylor, 38, D-Brookville, is an attorney in private practice who is seeking the Democrat nomination for the 5th Congressional District.
Thomas Tarantella, 54, D-Renovo, is a blue collar worker and Army veteran who still goes to work every day in the maintenance department at Norfolk Southern, the fourth largest railroad in the country.
Question: What is the biggest threat facing our nation? What steps do you advocate to protect U.S. concerns?
Thompson: I think our biggest threat is the national debt. I know terrorism is huge but I think the most imminent threat is the fact that the debt weakens our future. A significant amount is held by foreign counties or entities, with one being the largest communist country in the world. It deserves the proper attention and action. We have reduced discretionary spending to lower than when President (Barack) Obama was first elected in 2008. We really need to begin to look at mandatory spending, Medicare and Social Security, Medical Assistance. Another primary factor is the interest on the debt payments. I would look at getting people in the Senate and a president that shares that concern. The House just passed a budget, with a vision for America that a large majority of the American people embrace. It reduces the need for people to be on food stamps and welfare and Medical Assistance. It has the type of policies that create jobs and put people back to work. It restores the promise of opportunity for the American people and begins putting America back to work. There's a lot to be done and it is very challenging because Sen. Reid has blocked 99 percent of the legislation the House has passed. I don't think our founders ever envisioned this would occur, that the Senate leadership would act not in the best interest of the American people and all for political purposes.
Strano-Taylor: I believe it is the erosion of our middle class, because if you follow it to its logical conclusion, you see growing poverty. When you have rampant poverty, school districts are underfunded. So kids are already hindered out of the gate, they can't get the education they need to break out, if they finish at all. There are fewer and fewer good jobs available. When kids are idle, drugs are the really enticing option, then crime and violence follow. Other countries are investing in the education of their young people, and we spend more money on prisons than on family programs. We have 165 families using our food bank every week in a town of 3,800 people. Forty-eight percent of kids in my district are on the free and reduced lunch program. We've seen the greatest disparity in wealth since 1928, and we all know what happened in 1929. I'm not an advocate of redistribution of wealth. We need to take steps to rebuild. We should have been fixing roads and bridges when the recession hit over the past three or four years; instead, we spent that time fighting about what we should be doing. It could have put people to work when they needed to be put to work. Putting programs in place to lift up the middle class, reinvest in education and invest in infrastructure are what we need to be doing.
Tarantella: Our biggest threat is to our economy and our way of life. Because, militarily, there is not a country in the world that will challenge us, but by coming against our economy, they can actually cripple us. We should start considering taking care of our economy. America is the world's market, where the world comes to sell. The world comes here and if we have rogue countries not abiding by the rules, corporations hiding money and not paying their fair share, that should be addressed, and if a company manufactures overseas, they shouldn't be able to take a tax deduction to move their corporation overseas and take their labor and shipping costs as expenses and take depreciation of factories in those countries. It is all about the dollar, not about the people. There is no incentive for them to come back. To the companies that are staying in the U.S., it is not fair. I am telling you what I believe to be true at this moment of my life. I'm not a lawyer, not part of the 1 percent. Just an old soldier answering the call.