Voters heading to the polls on Tuesday also have several local elections in which to cast their votes.
In the race for the 52nd District’s seat, Republican incumbent Ryan Warner (Perryopolis) is facing Democrat James Mari (North Union Township).
Mari is North Union Township’s tax collector. He and his wife, Tracy, have two children, Rachel and Michael.
During his primary race against Lloyd Williams, Mari told The Daily Courier that he had hopes to fix some of the problems facing the district.
“Property taxes are too high for people to pay, especially the elderly on a fixed income. Drugs are tearing our families apart. Politicians in Harrisburg care more about stopping someone else’s plan than offering solution of their own,” he said. “I want to work to fix these problems and be a true representative of everyone in the 52nd district.”
Mari said his goals if elected are to work with state and local government officials to “bring manufacturing jobs that pay a living wage.”
“There are too many people elected to office today that forget why they are there. You are there to be a representative of your district,” Mari said. “That being said, we need to find ways to overcome the partisan road blocks that are controlling state government.”
Mari’s opponent, Warner, told the Courier that he believes that the major issue facing the area is jobs.
“Maintaining the jobs we have, and attracting new employers to our region must be our top priority. We need to look towards the jobs of the future, but we must also ensure domestic energy jobs are able to effectively compete in the world marketplace,” Warner said. “I am supporting and promoting policies that encourage job creators to remain in our region, and new employers to come here. We have a work force that is second to none in Fayette and Westmoreland counties. However, it is common sense that if we have higher taxes, more burdensome and onerous regulations and more hurdles to jump over than other states, companies will take their jobs elsewhere.”
Warner addressed the ongoing opioid crisis plaguing the area.
“During my first term as state representative, I’ve worked hard with like-minded legislators and local community leaders to try to address this issue from the roots of the problem,” he said. “First, we must be tough on the harden drug dealers preying on local residents and put them behind bars. That’s part of the solution that we need to take back our streets.”
Next door in the 51st district, incumbent Democrat Tim Mahoney (Uniontown) is facing Republican Matt Dowling (Uniontown).
Mahoney’s focus during his tenure as state representative has been education and youth. In a recent press release, Mahoney announced that he had worked to help Albert Gallatin and Uniontown school district to receive $25,000 in grants for security cameras.
“All students deserve to learn in a safe, secure environment, and these state funds help ensure that the sanctity of the educational experience in our public schools is preserved,” he said.
Mahoney has also been a vocal supporter of the idea of creating a countywide school district. Additionally, he discussed opioid abuse issues.
“We all know this problem has gotten bigger and bigger, and it’s reached crisis proportions, not just in Fayette and Somerset counties, but throughout the commonwealth,” Mahoney said in an October press release. We also know the standard 30-day treatment approach isn’t sufficient time to help people kick the habit.”
Dowling’s platform also focuses on education and opioid abuse.
“I have two children, a three-year old and a four-year-old, I hope the education they receive affords them the same opportunity I had to return to our community after school, and to live and thrive in our region,” he said. “That said, educational funding needs to become a priority and with that we have to focus on pension reform.”
Dowling said he believes that the drug epidemic is one of the biggest issues the area faces, along with the need for jobs.
“Combating the opioid and heroin epidemic will take a comprehensive approach. That means helping local law enforcement get the resources they need to deal with drug crime as well as procure and utilize Narcan. It means working with healthcare providers to ensure that the opioids being prescribed are truly necessary, to find alternative treatment options, and strictly penalizing doctors who are found guilty of wrongly prescribing these drugs,” he said.
“Finally, we must bring together our schools and drug addiction and treatment specialists to help prevent drug use in the first place.”
Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m.
Tony Sonita is a Daily Courier staff writer. He can be reached at 724-628-2000, ext. 111, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.