Two years ago, Ryan Warner of Perryopolis became the first Fayette County Republican in recent years to win a race for the state Legislature. He surprised many by defeating Perry Township Supervisor A.J. Boni for the seat in the 52nd Legislative District.
Now, Warner is running for re-election and he’s being challenged by Democrat James Mari, the tax collector for North Union Township. They’re squaring off in next Tuesday’s general election
Warner is campaigning on his opposition to Gov. Tom Wolf’s spending plans, noting that state government must learn to live within its means. He contends that residents in the 52nd District simply can’t afford to pay any more in taxes.
Mari said he wants to help residents in the 52nd District, noting many of them are struggling. Mari said he believes his experience as a tax collector would prove beneficial as a state legislator.
The two participated in a forum last month at Penn State Fayette, the Eberly Campus, where they expressed their views on a variety of issues. They differed on the opioid crisis with Warner saying the main problem is with the supply of opioids. He added that methadone and suboxone shouldn’t be used to treat addicts, because that’s just substituting one drug for another.
Mari said parents and schools should educate their children about the dangers of drug use. He said he would work with police to combat drugs, and he supports long-term rehabilitation.
Warner was also outspoken about the need for pension reform, claiming that money that should go for the education of students is being used instead for retirement costs which are spiraling out of control. While Warner said he didn’t agree with everything that Donald Trump has said during the campaign, he vowed to support him in the presidential election. Mari said he’s undecided about which candidate he’ll support.
The board believed that Warner did much better at the forum than Mari. They noted that Warner was very informed about the issues and was articulate in expressing his views. The board was impressed in particular with Warner’s views on the opioid crisis, agreeing with him that methadone and subuxone aren’t long-term answers to the drug-addiction problem.
The board said Mari, on the other hand, gave short answers, failing to provide any details on his solutions to the state’s woes. Overall his performance was lackluster. He simply couldn’t compare to Warner, either in style or substance.
The board noted that Warner has come a long way in a short period of time. Since taking office two years ago, they said that he has embraced the job of a state legislator, becoming knowledgeable with all the statewide issues facing residents in the 52nd District.
For that reason, the board endorsed Warner for a second term in the state Legislature.
The 52nd District includes the city of Connellsville; Connellsville, Bullskin, Dunbar, Lower Tyrone, Menallen, North Union, Perry, Saltlick and Upper Tyrone townships; and Dawson, Dunbar, Everson, Perryopolis and Vanderbilt boroughs in Fayette County, along with portions of East Huntingdon Township and Scottdale Borough in Westmoreland County.
The salary for the position is $85,339