Local Democrats call for change

Democrats called upon supporters to get behind their party candidates for offices at the federal, state and local levels during their annual spring banquet Saturday night in Williamsport.

Marc Friedenberg, running for the 12th Congressional seat, perhaps set the tone for the evening when he made it clear that change is needed.

“Republicans have shown us they want to overturn the Affordable Care Act,” he said.

He said his Republican opponent, Fred Keller, wants to kill Social Security, Medicare and the environment.

Friedenberg said it would be wrong to now go backward.

“The road to the White House goes through the 12th District,” he said.

Friedenberg said Keller has accomplished nothing in Harrisburg as a state representative.

He called for the expansion of rural broadband and preventing central Pennsylvania from falling further behind much of the rest of the nation.

“This is still a country worth fighting for,” he said.

Other candidates who took swipes at Republicans were Lycoming County Commissioner Rick Mirabito, who is seeking re-election to that seat.

Unlike his two Republican colleagues, he fought for fiscal responsibility, he said.

They opposed his push for reducing the county payroll by eliminating 50 positions by attrition.

“I have fought for transparency for the hotel tax,” he added.

Elliott Weiss, also running on the Democratic ticket in the spring primary for Lycoming County Commissioner, noted that people living in flood prone areas of Muncy and Jersey Shore face huge insurance rate increases.

“Those communities will fade away if we don’t do something,” he said. “It’s an issue that has to be addressed.”

Weiss also called for the county to bring more jobs to the area and not to rely on the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce to do it.

Derek Slaughter, a Williamsport City Councilman seeking to become mayor, said he’s running on transparency, efficiency and accountability.

“I’m looking forward to taking Williamsport in a new direction,” he said.

City Council candidates Tiasha Machuga, David Banks and Jon Mackey also addressed the audience.

Machuga noted she’s a lifelong resident of Williamsport.

“I’m running because of my love for the city,” she said.

Banks said the city’s big problem is its lack of cohesion.

“We are not connected with each other,” he said. “We need change.”

Mackey said he has many ideas for the city, but doesn’t feel his own are any more important than those of taxpayers.

“My job is to represent the people of Williamsport,” he said. “I’m excited about the future of the city.”

Star-daisha Poole, seeking a seat on Williamsport Area School Board, said she’s a single mother who wants to have an impact on education.

“This might be my biggest chance to affect my child’s education,” she said.

Laurel Green, running for Montgomery Borough Council, called for better transparency in local government.

She noted her concerns regarding a chemical storage facility in the borough

Coastal Chemicals, Los Angeles, Calif. proposes to erect a building at 107 Miller Ave., housing 10 tanks, each holding 12,000 gallons of chemicals.

Beth Tarasi, seeking a bench seat on state Superior Court, noted her experience as a litigator and arguing cases before that court and the state Supreme Court.

Other candidates briefly addressing the audience were Barbara Weiss, city treasurer; Milissa Augustine, city controller; and Jeni Nash-Harvey, county prothonotary.

Morgan Allyn, vice chair, Lycoming County Democratic Committee, said the days of one-party rule are over.

“We need balance. Rural Pennsylvania is out of balance,” she said. “Diversity is needed.”

She said by working hard, change can happen.