election results

51st Legislative District

As this was in the 50th last election, it is kind of like that in the 51st this election, however the challenger of the 2016 election is now the incumbent now and the challenger now was a  10-year assemblyman. Another face off between these two candidates, as with the neighboring 50th District to the West will take place this fall with Tim Mahoney securing the Democratic Nod with 2,811 votes and Matthew Dowling again securing the Republican nod with 2,558 votes.

 

Candidacy Announcements

State Rep. Dowling seeks re-election in 51st District

State Rep. Matthew Dowling (R- 51) announced that he will be running for re-election in the 2018 campaign season.

Dowling was first elected to the House in 2016, defeating incumbent Tim Mahoney.

“Two years ago, I made a promise to stand strong for the taxpayers of community, support commonsense policies that create jobs, fight the opioid epidemic and work for everyone by refusing to play political games,” Dowling said.

“I am proud that I have kept that promise, but know that much remains to be accomplished to make our communities and our state stronger for the future.”

In Harrisburg, Dowling has quickly earned a reputation as a tough watchdog for taxpayers by standing against Gov. Wolf’s disastrous tax-and-spending increase agenda and attack on the Second Amendment and Pro-Life values of Fayette and Somerset counties.

“Where my predecessor was a willing ally in Gov. Wolf’s liberal agenda and chose to partake of every taxpayer-paid perk Harrisburg offered, I have been a consistent voice to control spending and have led by example by refusing the per diems and perks,” Dowling said. “My goal is to deliver true public service by refusing to play political games and focusing on the issues.”

Dowling has also gained a reputation as a leader in the effort to address the opioid epidemic. In just his first year in office, he helped pass a bipartisan package of new laws that was praised for its focus on combatting the epidemic through changes in prescription rules, professional education, prevention efforts and law enforcement.

Dowling also delivered bipartisan budgets that included increased funding for treatment and prevention efforts.

“I am proud that –– working in a bipartisan manner –– we have accomplished more in the fight against opioids over the past two years than in the 10 years before that combined,” Dowling stated.

“Opioids know no economic, geographic or racial lines,” he continued.

“They are simply hurting Pennsylvanians and must be dealt with strongly. I will continue to focus on this issue to help provide a brighter future for our families,” he added.

Dowling said that other areas of focus during his first term has been job creation, education and infrastructure, noting how these issues, while each important on their own, combine to help drive the economic and job growth our area needs.

“Quality schools better prepare our children for the job market of tomorrow. A strong infrastructure system with the roads and highways we need to connect our community to bigger metro centers and the interstate system makes our area more attractive to job creators.

And having a fair and predictable tax and regulatory system in our state makes Pennsylvania more competitive in the national marketplace for employers,” Dowling said.

“I am working to address these issues in a comprehensive manner to better retain and attract the jobs we need and improve the quality of life for residents,” he added.

As representative, Dowling supported reforms that are helping to control state spending and bring greater transparency to the budget process, worked to provide record levels of state funding for basic education, voted in favor of tax and regulatory reforms that make the state more attractive to job creators and supported completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway and its Southern Beltway Connector.

“While many people think being representative is about passing legislation in Harrisburg, I think the more important part of the job is helping real people here at home,” Dowling said.

“I want to listen to and help people. That is why I have made strong constituent services, extensive community outreach and local issues such a large part of what I do,” he continued.

Dowling pointed to examples of his efforts on this front, including hosting gun rights seminars; bringing important state government committee meetings to our community to increase citizen participation in government; delivering grants to local schools, volunteer fire and emergency services companies and for community projects; and outreach efforts like his popular “Morning Meetings with Matt” town hall meetings, “Office Open Houses” across the district to better listen to and serve constituent concerns and his Senior Expo.

A pro-life, pro-Second Amendment legislator, Dowling voted in favor of legislation to limit abortions to 20 weeks, which Gov. Wolf vetoed.

Dowling said he is currently sponsoring legislation to better defend the rights of law-abiding gun owners from overreach by the state under Gov. Wolf’s declared state of emergency over the opioid crisis.

“I will never allow the core values of our community to be ignored by this liberal governor and his allies in Harrisburg,” Dowling said.

“The rights of life, liberty and freedom are the foundation of our Commonwealth and must always be defended,” he continued.

“They are not political chips to be traded in legislative games,” Dowling added.

Dowling is a native son of the 51st District and brings to the legislature experience as a successful small business owner and active community volunteer.

Dowling also served as a Rotary District Governor for the seven-county region.

Dowling and his wife, Rebecca, are the proud parents of two young sons.

Information Articles, Uncategorized

Local legislators not influenced by other states’ recreational marijuana legalization vote

By Mark Hofmann, The Herald Standard

Even though several states have voted to make recreational marijuana legal, those in and entering the Pennsylvania legislature said they have not changed their opinions on the subject.

In April, the state legislature approved the medical marijuana bil to allow people suffering from seizures to be treated with cannabis oil to reduce the number of seizures they experience.

However, on Election Day, the states of California, Nevada, Main and Massachusetts approved the legalization of recreational marijuana.

With Pennsylvania’s legalization of medical marijuana only five months old, legislators aren’t giving the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana use much weight.

“It has not changed my stance at all,” said State Sen. Patrick Stefano, R-Bullskin Township, who added he believes the four states that voted to make recreational use legal are making a mistake. “It will take a long time before I change my stance on recreational marijuana.”

Stefano voted for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, but said h has issues with legalizing what people have called a gateway recreational drug during an ongoing opioid crisis.

“The risks would outweigh the benefits,” Stefano said. “I just don think we’re ready.”

State Rep. Ryan Warner, R-Perryopolis, said he, too, supported medical marijuana in Pennsylvania to help those with cancer an those who suffer seizures, but he believes the main focus needs to be eradicating the current drug epidemic.

“Addressing this opioid crisis should be one of the top priorities for every lawmaker in the state — not legalizing more drugs,” Ryan said.

“I don’t think it’s the right time for us in Pennsylvania to do that right now,” said State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson Township. “We haven’t even implemented the medical cannabis bill.”

Snyder said she wants to wait and see what research comes out of those states that have legalized recreational marijuana, but said when it comes to cannabis, she wants to focus on the medical marijuana implementation in Pennsylvania first as she said it will help a lot of people and doctors.

“I am a staunch supporter of the legalization of medicinal cannabis, which is why I sponsored three amendments to the legislation that was championed by Sen. Mike Folmer and enacted into law,” said state Sen. Camera Bartolotta, R-Carroll Township. “In this day and age, Pennsylvanians who are truly suffering, medically, should not be denied every opportunity to treatment.”

Bartolotta, however, said she doesn’t support recreational cannabis.

“I believe it can lead to bigger problems, such as an increase in DUI cases,” she said, adding that parents and children with extreme seizure disorders are the ones that need to benefit from the medical use of marijuana. “That’s what this is all about —giving men, women and children with serious medical conditions the ability to live better lives.”

“Far too many medical professionals have called marijuana a gateway drug for me to be able to support (recreational) legalization currently,” said Matthew Dowling, a Republican, who will be serving the 51st Legislative District and agrees that the opioid epidemic is what needs to be addressed.

Seven states have now legalized recreational pot, and a recent Gallup poll showed close to 60 percent of Americans support the idea.

Stefano said he has heard from those in his constituency in the 32nd Senatorial District on both sides of the issue and said about 70 percent are against recreational marijuana use.

Colorado, where stores began legally selling recreational pot in 2014, reported almost $1 billion in legal pot sales last year. Arcview Market Research, which tracks the marijuana industry, estimates that legal annual California pot revenues could exceed$7 billion by 2020.

Even the potential for additional tax money going to Harrisburg’s pot sales hasn’t swayed lawmakers.

“The state of Pennsylvania doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem,” Warner said.

While Warner said he respects the rights of individual states to make decisions that they deem best for themselves, he said Pennsylvania already has some of the highest sin taxes in the country, and rather than focusing on new similar taxes, legislato should be looking at ways to cut wasteful spending in Harrisburg

“Yes, I’m sure it’s going to generate revenue, but there’s things t take into account other than revenue,” Snyder said.

Stefano said the legalization of recreational marijuana could come with cost increases for things like drug treatment and different issues like the federal government’s restrictions on marijuana use.

“That complicates our ability to tax it,” Stefano said.

Dowling said relying on revenue from drugs is not sound public policy.

“Rather I think the states should control their costs and make cuts before following this path as a way to be able to further Gov [Tom] Wolf’s liberal agenda and outrageous spending,” Dowling said.

Uncategorized

Republican newcomer Dowling reflects on political race

State Rep.elect Matthew Dowling continues to savor his election night victory.
The sea of Republican red that washed over Fayette County on election day paved the way for the small Uniontown business owner to overcome the odds of besting an incumbent Democrat.

Dowling said that all along he was cognizant it would be an uphill battle to unseat veteran and popular lawmaker — state Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-South Union Twp. — when he set out on his first political journey.

However, it had been done before.

County transition to GOP

In 2014 with the retirement of iconic Democrat state Sen. Richard A. Kasunic, the local stage was set for political newcomers to emerge. Then-Democratic state Rep. Deberah Kula opted to seek the senatorial seat, with many believing she would have no problem moving into the position.  However, Fayette County businessman and community leader Pat Stefano, a Republican, stepped forward to challenge Kula and won. At the same time, Republican Ryan Warner won a place on the ballot and squared off with a well-known
Democratic leader, Perry Township Supervisor A.J. Boni for Kula’s representative’s seat. Warner was victorious in his first political bid and won a second term by defeating Democrat James Mari in last week’s general election.

Last year, the county commission moved from a Democratic majority to a Republican majority with Dave Lohr joining fellow Republican Angela M. Zimmerlink on the board.
With the foundation set, Dowling had many reasons to be optimistic.

Dowling enters the race

As he looked at the demographics and how, in his opinion, the county had not flourished under the leadership of the Democrat Party, Dowling said he saw an opportunity and seized it. “I think this year — more than any — citizens were interested in new blood and new ideas,” he said. “I was personally extremely frustrated during the (2015 state) budget standoff that lasted six months.” While his nonprofit business employer was not substantially harmed by the impasse, Dowling said he was cognizant of agencies that were in jeopardy of providing needed services for senior citizens and others. “School districts had to take out a line of credit because of the budget standoff,” he said. “I think we could have come to a better and quicker solution.” Dowling said that he also saw the success of Stefano, R-Bullskin Township, and Warner, R-Perryopolis, in their efforts to elicit aid from Harrisburg for their constituencies, despite their short time in office. With the support of his family, the GOP community and his two mentors, Dowling embarked on his challenge to defeat Mahoney who was seeking a sixth term as the 51st Legislative District representative. He seized on what he saw as Mahoney’s shortfalls. “Rep. Mahoney had become — in some ways — a one-issue candidate,” said Dowling of Mahoney’s push for school consolidation. “We needed to look at other issues as well.” While not opposed to consideration of some consolidation of services, Dowling said an all-encompassing
measure is not feasible. “School boards should come together and figure that out for themselves,” he said.

As he knocked on the doors of those within the district, Dowling said he found that residents, too, were concerned about other issues, including the drug epidemic and the shortage of jobs. Although he had to sell himself to the constituency, Dowling credits his successful campaign to those that guided him through political maze like Stefano,
Warner and Somerset County state Rep. Carl Metzgar, along with the state GOP and the House Republican Campaign Committee, which offered financial help. “The Commonwealth Partners of Entrepreneurs were involved in the race using individual expenditures, meaning they were placing signs, paying for online advertising, and even running radio commercials without coordination or knowledge of the campaign,” he said. “Grassroots efforts, such as door knocking, sign coordination, phone banking, and coalition organization was handled by the Fayette and Somerset Republican Committees, and some 80 individual volunteers, many of whom had no previous involvement in political campaigns.”
Dowling, himself, visited or called upon 10,000 residents during the months leading up to the election. Volunteers made 4,000 calls, mailed 7,000 letters on behalf of the campaign, with ProLife volunteers distributing 2,500 pieces of literature just days before voters went to the polls.
“While much has been said about the mail pieces paid for by the Republican Party of PA, this campaign had a great deal of support at the grassroots level,” said Dowling. “It would have been impossible to share the message of my campaign without all involved.”
Efforts show results In early October, Dowling said the campaign began to see a shift as likely voters began to tie his name to the race. The needed connection was made,
he said, but would it translate into a win? “I knew our campaign had done everything it could, and made every contact possible,” he said. “Running a campaign is like a job interview. We made our case the best we could. “It was now going to be up to the voters to make the decision.” The 51st Legislative District includes portions of Fayette and Somerset counties. Mahoney took Fayette County by a 10,148 to 9,989 vote, with Dowling overcoming the deficit in neighboring Somerset County and adding to the total count. According to unofficial results, Dowling secured 3,282 votes to Mahoney’s 1,573 ballots.
Blue to red Warner, meanwhile, said the overwhelming Republican win developed at the federal level and trickled down to the state level as voters became weary of
the liberal agenda touted by the Democrats. “Whether it be Gov. (Tom) Wolf’s proposal for the largest tax increase in the history of Pennsylvania or President (Barack) Obama and (former)  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s public war against coal and natural gas, (those agendas) do not align with southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Warner.
“Most residents in Fayette and Westmoreland counties are conservative and believe in traditional American values. “They are not going to back a candidate, or a party, that supports and advocates for illegal immigration, supports higher taxes on the working class, supports jobcrushing regulations from the EPA (federal Environmental Protection Agency) or attacks our Second Amendment rights.”

Ready to serve

Dowling, meanwhile, said the outcome not only gave him the win, but also a mandate to make a difference. When he goes to Harrisburg, Dowling said he will focus on the two major issues of concern of those that elected him to office. “(Concerning the drug issue) I think that comes down to funding law enforcement,” he said. “And, we need to find the best way to provide treatment. “When it comes to the drug epidemic, I don’t think there is going to be a one size fits all approach. “It is going to be an uphill fight that is going to take awhile (to address).” Dowling added that the discussions with the residents revealed, too, that a level of corruption exists because of the long-domination of the Democratic
Party, and it must end. “There are effective people in office that deserve to be reelected,”
he said. “I learned how hard it is to come in as a newcomer and try to get someone’s
ear.” He found that in some instances, the barriers could not be broken.
“I had people that were afraid to donate to my campaign,” he said. “We need to clean up any corruption that exists out there.” Dowling will go to Harrisburg on Dec. 1 to begin the transition process. He will take the oath of office on Jan. 3.

election results

Dowling unofficially edges Mahoney out in 51st District race

Mike Tony mtony@heraldstandard.com Updated 8 hrs ago


Republican challenger Matthew Dowling of Uniontown appears to have unseated the incumbent serving the 51st Legislative District in the state House of Representatives.

The unofficial tally from Tuesday’s general election showed Dowling with a relatively narrow victory over incumbent Democrat state Rep. Tim Mahoney,D/South Union Township, who was seeking a sixth term.

With 61 of Fayette County’s 80 precincts and 66 of Somerset County’s 68 districts reporting, Dowling had 8,096 votes to Mahoney’s 6,825 votes, giving Dowling approximately 54.26 percent of the vote.

Mahoney held a narrow 5,598 to 5,349 lead in Fayette County votes but Dowling held a more than 2­ to­1 margin over Mahoney in Somerset County votes. The number one issue we heard about was the drug epidemic in this area,” Dowling said, citing the apparent success of his campaign to listening to the needs of voters.

Mahoney said he was not conceding shortly before 11 p.m., but said he anticipated losing.

“I liked helping people,” Mahoney said, saying he saw his tenure as 10 years of community service and noted he will be turning 60 years old soon.

“What I’m trying to say is I’m not sorry I lost, but I’m not happy.”

The 51st District includes the city of Uniontown; Georges, German, Henry Clay, Nicholson, South Union, Springfield, Springhill, Stewart and Whartontownships; and Fairchance, Markleysburg, Ohiopyle, Point Marion and Smithfield boroughs in Fayette County.

It also includes Addison, Elk Lick, Lower Turkeyfoot, Summit and Upper Turkeyfoot townships and the boroughs of Addison, Confluence, Garrett, Meyersdale, Salisbury and Ursina, in Somerset County.

At a forum hosted by the Herald-­Standard, Greene County Messenger and the Mon Valley Herald­Standard in conjunction with the Fayette Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 14, Dowling questioned Mahoney’s focus on school district administration consolidation, arguing that consolidationwould only work for parts of the 51st Legislative District.

Dowling called for pension reform at the same forum and said Mahoney had been part of the issue of not allowing the state to come to a bipartisan solution on the budget last year.

Mahoney repeatedly advocated for school district administration consolidation, which he has pitched locally and statewide for much of his time as state representative.

“I’m just sorry I didn’t get the school consolidation done,” Mahoney said Tuesday night.

Mahoney advocated for more funding for education about drugs and recovery programs at the forum and made several attempts todistance himself from Gov. Tom Wolf, noting that he was one of 13 House Democrats that voted for the Republican­backed $6.6 billion supplemental

2015­16 budget which Wolf allowed to become law without his signature in March, ending a nine­month long budget impasse which hampered social services and schools.

Mahoney was first elected as state representative in 2006, succeeding Larry Roberts, also a Democrat.

election results

State House Election Results (11:30 PM)

49th District:

  1. Donald”Bud” Cook (R)- 13, 354- 54.26%
  2. Alan Benyak (D)- 11,259- 45.74%

50th District:

  1. Pam Snyder (D)- 10,875 – 52.72%
  2. Betsy Rohanna-McClure (R)- 9,7 54- 47.28%

51st District:

  1. Matthew Dowling (R)- 8,090- 54.26%
  2. Tim Mahoney (D) – 6,825- 45.74%

52nd District:

  1. Ryan Warner (R) – 11,772- 64.62%
  2. James Mari (D)- 6,446 – 35.38%
election results

State House Districts Preliminary 

Representative in the General Assembly

49th Legislative DistrictCounty Breakdown

BENYAK, ALAN D 
(DEM)

45.74%

    Votes: 11,259

COOK, DONALD 
(REP)

54.26%

    Votes: 13,354

Back to Top

50th Legislative DistrictCounty Breakdown

SNYDER, PAMELA 
(DEM)

53.32%

    Votes: 9,926

ROHANNA MCCLURE, ELIZABETH L 
(REP)

46.68%

    Votes: 8,690

Back to Top

51st Legislative DistrictCounty Breakdown

MAHONEY, TIMOTHY S 
(DEM)

45.74%

    Votes: 6,825

DOWLING, MATTHEW DAVID 
(REP)

54.26%

    Votes: 8,096

Back to Top

52nd Legislative DistrictCounty Breakdown

MARI, JAMES M 
(DEM)

35.38%

    Votes: 6,446

WARNER, RYAN JAMES
(REP)

64.62%

    Votes: 11,772

Back to Top

Information Articles

Election pits Warner against Mari, Mahoney against Dowling

BY TONY SONITA, CONNELLSVILLE DAILY COURIER

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 tsonita@dailycourier.com.

Editorial Board Endorsement

51st District H-S Editorial Board Endorsement 

The race for the 51st District of the state House of Representatives is a classic showdown.

On the one side is veteran lawmaker, Tim Mahoney, D-South Union Township, who is seeking his sixth term in the state Legislature.

On the other side is a newcomer, Matthew Dowling, R-Uniontown, who is making his first run for public office.

Mahoney touts his record in office and his outreach efforts to help people in need of assistance in dealing with state government. Dowling said his experience as a small-business owner will help put him in good stead as a lawmaker.

During a forum held earlier this month with the two candidates, Mahoney appeared to have a good grasp of the issues, although for him, everything somehow tied into his favorite issue of school consolidation. Mahoney has come up with a plan to consolidate the administrations of the school districts in Fayette County. He said it would save taxpayers money as well as allowing more money to be spent on the education of students in the county.

Mahoney said that improving the county’s education system is crucial for the overall betterment of Fayette County’s economy, noting the county will continue to lose population until that happens.

Dowling said he believes the only way to improve the county’s school system is through pension reform. He said the spiraling cost of pensions is draining money that should be used for the education of the county’s students.

While they have their differences on the education issue and other various problems facing the commonwealth, both candidates have a proven track record of community service.

Mahoney sponsors annual senior and veterans information and health fairs and holiday food drives. He also contributes to annual Christmas dinners for the needy and college scholarships for one high school student in each school district within his legislative district.

Dowling founded the annual “Share the Spirit” event, which raises funds for local nonprofit agencies. The initiative is done in partnership with the Community Foundation of Fayette. He also served for a year as district governor for Rotary International.

There was strong support on the board for both candidates. Mahoney was praised for being accessible and for being independent, especially in standing up to Gov. Wolf on the budget last year.

Dowling was praised for his intelligence and hard work in becoming familiar with all the topics discussed at the forum. He also has seems to be working well with local Republican lawmakers, state Sen. Pat Stefano, R-Bullskin Township, and state Rep. Ryan Warner, R-Perryopolis. No matter the outcome of this election, he appears to have a bright future in politics at some level.

In the end, the board endorsed Mahoney, noting with his tenure on the job he’s better positioned than a newcomer like Dowling to help residents of the 51st District.

However, the endorsement came with a caveat that Mahoney should drop his plans for school consolidation unless he can find a way to make it happen quickly. He’s been working on the plan for several years without success. If this fight can’t be won, then it’s time to move on. There are other pressing problems that also need to be dealt with.

The 51st Legislative District includes the City of Uniontown, Georges, German, Henry Clay, Nicholson, South Union, Springfield, Springhill, Stewart and Wharton townships and Fairchance, Markleysburg, Ohiopyle, Point Marion and Smithfield boroughs in Fayette County along with Addison, Elk Lick, Lower Turkeyfoot, Summit and Upper Turkeyfoot townships and the boroughs of Addison, Confluence, Garrett, Meyersdale, Salisbury and Ursina, in Somerset County. The salary for the position is $85,339.

Candidate Forums

51st District candidates talk gridlock, pending legislation in forum

By Mike Tony mtony@heraldstandard.com

Published 10:32 AM EDT

LEMONT FURNACE — The two candidates running for state representative in the 51st Legislative District also discussed at a recent forum approaches to politically driven issues, such as gridlock in Harrisburg, per diems and the presidential election.

Incumbent Tim Mahoney, D-South Union Township, said he can work with Republicans, citing the fact that he spearheaded legislation in bipartisan fashion to expand the state Right-to-Know Law as the prime sponsor of the House version of the bill.

His Republican challenger, Matthew Dowling, though, said Mahoney was “part of the issue of not allowing us to have a bipartisan solution on the budget last year.”

Mahoney countered by distancing himself from Gov. Tom Wolf, something he did often throughout the evening.

“I’m probably Gov. Wolf’s number one nemesis in the House as a Democrat,” Mahoney said. “I voted against the budget. I was a leader of the 11 Democrats that voted against the budget. We ended the crisis.”

Mahoney was one of the House Democrats who voted for the Republican-backed $6.6 billion supplemental 2015-16 budget which Wolf allowed to become law without his signature in March, ending a nine-month-long budget impasse which hampered social services and schools. In October 2015, Mahoney was one of nine House Democrats — all from southwestern Pennsylvania — to vote against Wolf’s proposal to increase the personal income tax and impose a severance tax on natural gas drilling at a time when the budget impasse was three months running.

In other topics addressed at the forum, Mahoney said he takes per diems and is enrolled in the state pension fund, while Dowling said he doesn’t intend to take per diems but will enroll in the state pension fund.

Both candidates said they supported a joint resolution to reduce the size of the General Assembly from the current 203 representative districts to 151, and both candidates also said they supported the idea that an independent citizens commission be created to draw legislative and congressional maps to address gerrymandering.

The men also opened up about who they felt would best lead the country.

Dowling said he would be voting for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in the presidential election, which he said gave him “great pause” because of “the things that he has said (and) the way he has acted.” Dowling said he thought Trump’s policies were in the best interest of the area and that he worried about where Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “would go” in her four or eight years in office.

Mahoney said he didn’t know who he was going to vote for yet.

“To have our country run by either one of those individuals is scary to me,” Mahoney said.