election results, Uncategorized

Cook apparent winner in 49th District

By Christine Haines chaines@heraldstandard.com Updated 8 hrs ago

The race for the 49th State Legislative District pitted Democrat Alan Benyak against Republican Donald Bud Cook, with Cook coming out the apparent winner according to Tuesday’s unofficial results.

Throughout the evening as votes were counted, Cook maintained a lead over Benyak that initially mirrored the lead Donald Trump had over HillaryClinton in the presidential race in Washington and Fayette Counties, with about 60 percent of the vote.

As the evening went on, Benyak picked up a greater percentage than Clinton in those counties, with approximately 46 percent of the vote, but it was not enough to overcome Cook’s lead.

“In 2014 we knocked on 9,000 doors and that wasn’t enough. This year we knocked on 20,336,” Cook said. “I interviewed for the job with the bosses.”Cook said he understood the needs of the district, with a primary emphasis on jobs.A freshman representative isn’t going to get a lot accomplished in Harrisburg, but we can get people united and work to resolve our problems in this area,” Cook said.

Benyak could not be reached for comment.

Cook and Benyak were seeking the seat that has been held for the past three decades by Democrat Peter J. Daley, who announced at the beginning of the year that he would not be seeking re­election.

Benyak, an attorney, and Cook, an e­marketing and promotions consultant, addressed numerous issues during the campaign, including opioid addiction.

Benyak said he supports pending state legislation to allow charges to be brought against anyone who provides illegal drugs that cause injury to anotherperson. He also called for programs to treat addicts, noting that the attorney general’s office is overwhelmed by drug cases.

Cook said he outlined his plan to fight drug addiction in the region on his campaign website including monitoring prescription painkillers, increasingeducation on drug abuse awareness and supporting drug take­back programs.

Benyak said he is a supporter of property tax reform, shifting to a 1 percent increase in the sales tax. Cook said he would rather address blight issues,increasing the property values in the region, thereby increasing property taxes.

When it comes to how each would work with others in Harrisburg, Cook said he was a team builder and would work with others to resolve issues.

“You attack the problem, not the people” he said.

The two candidates had very different spending habits during their campaigns. Benyak spent $42,557 and received in­kind contributions of $73,548, for
a total of $116,105, according to the latest report.

Cook spent $5,062, with in­kind contributions of $5,232, for a total of $10,294. Those figures do not include any money spent by others for or againsteach of the candidates that did not go through their campaign committees.

Cook was also outspent in the Republican Primary race, where Melanie Patterson outspent him by a 5­1 margin.

Of the six Democratic candidates in the Primary, Benyak showed the highest expenditures with a total of $49,133 between his own spending and that of his campaign committee.

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