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Candidates talk about biggest national issue, state’s minimum wage

Throughout the election season, candidates for the 12th Congress and the 83rd and 84th state House seats will be polled about issues pertinent to the voters. Their responses will appear on Sundays in the Sun-Gazette.

The 12th Congressional seat pits incumbent Republican Tom Marino against Democrat Marc Friedenberg.

That district encompasses all or parts of Lycoming, Bradford, Centre, Clinton, Juniata, Mifflin, Northumberland, Perry, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, and Wyoming counties.

Candidates for the 83rd state House seat are incumbent Jeff Wheeland, a Republican, and Airneezer Page, a Democrat. The district includes Williamsport, South Williamsport, DuBoistown, Montgomery, and the townships of Loyalsock, Old Lycoming, Armstrong, Clinton, Susquehanna, and Woodward.

The 84th state House candidates are incumbent Garth Everett, a Republican, and Linda Sosniak, a Democrat.

Much of that district is in Lycoming County and includes Montoursville, Muncy, Hughesville, Picture Rocks, Salladasburg, Jersey Shore and the townships of Anthony, Bastress, Brady, Brown, Cascade, Cogan House, Cummings, Eldred, Fairfield, Franklin, Gamble, Hepburn, Jackson, Jordan, Lewis, Limestone, McHenry, McIntyre, McNett, Mifflin, Mill Creek, Moreland, Muncy, Muncy Creek, Nippenose, Penn, Piatt, Pine, Plunketts Creek, Porter, Shrewsbury, Upper Fairfield, Washington, Watson, and Wolf. It also includes Gregg and White Deer townships in Union County.

QUESTION FOR FEDERAL CANDIDATES: What is the single biggest issue facing the U.S. and what can be done to fix it?

12th Congress

Marino: “I am going to have to say two issues. One is the opioid crisis. The other is still terrorism. On the opioid issue we have to become much more preventive. We have to include intensive rehabilitation. It is going to be costly, but if we don’t, we will lose more people. We are going to pass an opioid bill that addresses it. I never met a person who is addicted to drugs who didn’t say he couldn’t get off them. There should be a system whereby we can get people into inpatient and outpatient treatment, regardless of whether they have money to pay for it or not and have family members able to intervene. Government needs to fund this. There are many people I’ve met in my career who are addicted to drugs.

“We need to secure our borders. We need to have more agents on our borders. We need to work more closely with other countries.”

Friedenberg: “I think the biggest issue facing the U.S. is our health care crisis and health care affordability. That is holding back the economy in so many ways. People can’t meet simple costs. The average family is paying $6,400 a year in health care. That is a significant expense for employers too. We are really ahead of the rest of the world in terms in what persons are paying for in health care. But we are behind in what we get for those health care costs. In the 21st century, we are seeing decreasing life expectancies. This particular congressional district has an older age demographic. I think Medicare for all is the solution. We can make sure everyone is covered. We can make sure the wealthiest country in the world gives everyone access to health care.”

QUESTION FOR STATE HOUSE CANDIDATES: Pennsylvania’s minimum wage has remained at $7.25 since 2009, the lowest among all its bordering states. Do you support an increase in the state’s minimum wage?

83rd District

Wheeland: “I do not support minimum wage. I think the market should dictate what people are paid. Government should not interfere. I believe there is a simple solution as we go forward and that is to tie the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index. That prevents one party beating the other party to death with the issue. That being said, we have the minimum wage. It’s not going away.”

Page: “I believe the state should increase the minimum wage to a rate that people can live on. It’s been nine years, and it hasn’t kept up with inflation. People are working hard. Many people are on food stamps. We can solve a lot of problems by doing it. I think it should be $15 an hour. It’s hard when you are a single parent and raising three or four kids. We can’t keep continuing to go on this way and think we are going to eradicate poverty. Maybe then we can start turning the economy around.”

84th District

Everett: “I am not against a gradual increase in the minimum wage over time. I would not want to see a rapid change. I don’t want to see unemployment occur by doing it too quickly. I don’t even know any place that is paying minimum wage for work. Pennsylvania unemployment is now at 4 percent. There is competition for workers out there. I am more of a market forces person than a government regulations guy. I would support it, but just not one that is excessive so people don’t lose their jobs over the increase.”

Sosniak: “I think our minimum wage is a tool we use to move the economy forward. Too many citizens are working two or three jobs to make ends meet. I think we need to raise it. It’s way overdue. I think we should immediately raise it to $9 an hour. I think we should then gradually increase it to $15 up to the year 2024. Many people don’t want their children moving away. We need to have higher paying jobs to keep them in this area.”

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