election results

52nd Legislative District

As with many of the other Legislative seats in this county, the 52nd is no different to excitement.

Incumbent Republican Ryan Warner will secure his party’s nod with 2,949 votes, while a Connellsville City Counciman, Ethan Keedy secured the Democratic nod in the 52nd with 2,747 votes. The men will face each other in the General Election in the Fall for the sole 52nd District seat.

Candidacy Announcements

Rep. Warner announces re-election bid for state House

Rep. Ryan Warner (R-52nd) announced that he will seek re-election to the State House of Representatives to continue his work of protecting taxpayers, fighting for jobs and values and reforming state government.

Warner is serving his second term and is known for providing local residents with a strong voice in state government.

“I was elected to put people before politics, and I have done that as state representative,” Warner said. “I am proud of my work to enable local families to keep more of their hard earn money; my fight for our hometown values; and my efforts to provide local seniors and residents with the services they need. We have made positive steps, but I know there is more that needs done for the hard-working men and women I serve. That is why I am running for re-election.” Warner continues to lead on reforming state government. During his first two terms in office, he has honored his promise to refuse the costly per diems, state car and state pension. Warner was also one of the few House members who did not accept a paycheck during the extended 2015 budget impasse.

“I grew up in a blue collar household,” Warner said. “So when I ran for election, I promised that I would continue to live like the residents I serve. That’s why I refused the costly perks and have worked so hard to reform the system to better protect taxpayers.”

In the House, Warner is respected for being a common sense legislator who knows that residents cannot afford higher taxes, especially when the majority of these tax dollars go to Philadelphia instead of Fayette or Westmoreland counties. He was a leading supporter of a Constitutional Amendment to provide reasonable spending limits, performance-based budgeting legislation that became law and is part of a bipartisan group of reform legislators who continue to work for a responsible budget process.

“Gov. Wolf continues to propose higher taxes in order to support bigger, more expensive government,” Warner said. “I know there are better ways to balance the budget. That is why I fought for strong measures to stop welfare fraud and abuse to ensure those most in need receive help while helping to reduce costs. During the budget process, I will continue to side with hard-working taxpayers by opposing Gov. Wolf’s excessive tax and spend plans.”

Warner has voted to pass budgets that were fiscally responsible, focused spending on priorities and did not raise taxes. In fact, the budget proposals he has supported provided additional funding for education and important programs that would benefit local residents, seniors and children. Warner has also worked to refocus education on teaching children the important skills they need for success, rather than teaching to a test.

“As the father of two children, I support our public school system and the teachers who work hard to help provide our kids with the skills they need to succeed after graduation,” Warner said. “That is why I supported budgets in the House that provided record funds for our schools. However, I also understand that a quality education is not just about money and must be affordable to property taxpayers. That is why I supported a historic proposal to reform the pension system, which is a driving cost to governments at all levels, but especially for school districts.”

Warner is a proven fiscal conservative committed to making Pennsylvania more business-friendly and to supporting our energy and coal industries, which have a new friend in the Trump administration. As representative, he has opposed irresponsible federal and state policies in order to keep the jobs we have and to grow the economy to create new local jobs. Warner has promoted the responsible development of Marcellus Shale natural gas without eliminating the impact fee, which has delivered millions of dollars for local improvements.

“The people of Fayette and Westmoreland counties have told me repeatedly that now is not the time for broad-based tax increases,” Warner said. “They want responsible fiscal leadership that cuts wasteful government spending, fosters sustainable job growth and forces government to live within its means like our families must do.”

Born and raised here, Ryan learned the importance of hard work, faith, family and service to others from his family. His grandfathers and their families were trusted members of our community. Charles Warner was a local farmer, and John Marks was in real estate. His father, Jim, owns and operates JTE Logging. His mother, Annette, is a branch manager at PNC Bank.

Throughout his life, Warner has helped his father with the family’s logging business. He began in high school by stacking, sorting and cutting lumber before working his way up to operating and maintaining the sawmill machinery and heavy equipment.

Warner attended Frazier High School and graduated from Penn State University. Following college, he went to work for Siemens Industry in Westmoreland County as a project controller. As a result of a tough economy, Siemens reduced its workforce and Warner was one of those who were let go after nearly five years on the job.

“My story is like many other western Pennsylvanians,” Warner said. “As state representative, I never forget the importance of providing people with a reliable safety net and effective job retraining programs when needed so they can get back to work supporting their families. I work hard every day to keep the jobs we have and to grow our economy to create new local jobs.”

Warner has also been an effective legislator who is fighting for our values in Harrisburg. His bipartisan legislation to cut government red tape was signed into law just five months after he took office. He has introduced common sense legislation including bills to make English the official language of Pennsylvania, provide tax credits to our volunteer firefighters and EMS workers and to stop wasteful government spending.

Warner co-sponsored bills to protect pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and pro-family values. He has also put workers first by supporting efforts to deny public benefits to illegal immigrants. Ryan and his wife Leslie reside in Perryopolis where they are raising their two children, Paloma and Ben. They are members of St. John the Baptist Parish. He has deep family roots in our community and is an avid hunter and sportsman.

The 52nd District includes portions of Fayette and Westmoreland counties. Warner is seeking the Republican nomination in the May primary election.

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

Warner defeats Mari in 52nd District race

Mike Tony mtony@heraldstandard.com Updated 6 hrs ago


Incumbent Republican state Rep. Ryan Warner, R-­Perryopolis, appears to have secured a second term serving the 52nd Legislative District in the state House of Representatives.
The unofficial tally from Tuesday’s general election showed Warner with a comfortable victory over Democratic challenger James Mari, a North Union Township tax collector.
With 61 of Fayette County’s 80 precincts reporting and 277 out of 306 districts in Westmoreland County reporting, Warner had 11,772 votes to Mari’s6,446 votes, giving Warner approximately 64.62 percent of the vote.

Mari said Tuesday night that he had conceded to Warner’s campaign.
“When I was elected last time, I promised the constituents of the 52nd District I wouldn’t take the perks of the job,” Warner said. “I declined a state car, a state pension and per diems.”
Mari attributed his unofficial loss to what he characterized as Trump’s popularity in Fayette County.
“The Trump supporters, that’s all it was,” Mari said.
The 52nd District includes the city of Connellsville, Bullskin, Dunbar, Lower Tyrone, Menallen, North Union, Perry, Saltlick and Upper Tyrone townships and Dawson, Dunbar, Everson, Perryopolis, South Connellsville and Vanderbilt boroughs, as well as the Fayette County portion of Seven Springsborough. It also includes Scottdale borough and part of East Huntingdon Township in Westmoreland County.
At a forum hosted by the Herald­Standard, Greene County Messenger and the Mon Valley Herald­Standard in conjunction with the Fayette Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 14, Warner said he supported a bill to require monitoring when people try to get refills of certain pain killers to curb the supply of drugs on the streets. Warner also said property taxes should be reduced or eliminated and that pension reform would help with education funding.
Tuesday night, Warner attributed his unofficial win to his blue­collar background and the fact that he was not a politician prior to taking the state representative’s office.
At the Oct. 14 forum, Mari said House Bill 76 would eventually eliminate property taxes and that raising the sales tax is fair because everyone would pay it.
Warner was first elected as state representative in 2014, succeeding Deberah Kula, 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, Presidential Election

Election brings out the good and bad with people’s political beliefs

By Mark Hofmann mhofmann@heraldstandard.com

Published 2:30 AM EST

As either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump verbally fight their way to the White House, people’s political beliefs in some cases have gone past the boiling point.

A few weeks ago, a GOP office was firebombed around the same time a Clinton campaign sign was vandalized outside of a county Democrat office, both in North Carolina.

In Pennsylvania, someone upturned the tombstone of Clinton’s father, Hugh Rodham, at a Scranton cemetery, and just last week, someone spray painted several homes in Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s Zionsville neighborhood with anti-GOP messages.

Locally, however, things have been quiet.

John Hartman, the chief of the Southwest Regional Police Department, said the civilians have remained civil.

“I hope it stays that way,” he said.

“I’ve never had anything more serious than the questioning of a missing sign,” said Uniontown police Lt. Tom Kolencik. “Occasionally we get that call, and weather is normally a factor.”

Kolencik said in his years of law enforcement, he has never had to respond to a bar fight or a domestic assault that stemmed from a difference over politics.

“It never amounts to anything more than a disagreement,” Kolencik said. “Everyone remains pretty civil and cordial.”

While he hasn’t seen any, Hartman said politically-motivated crimes have become a sobering reality of this election cycle.

“Part of that is not only the national news, but social media bringing everything worldwide,” Hartman said.

Margaret L. Signorella, professor of psychology and women’s, gender and sexuality studies at Penn State’s Greater Allegheny Campus, said social media has led to a new level of intensity in opinions.

“(A) lot of the nasty discourse online is because it is anonymous, and consists of behaviors that the individuals would probably not do face to face,” Signorella said. “It is well established that people will engage in more antisocial behavior when anonymous.”

Justin Hackett, social psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at California University of Pennsylvania, said in an online environment, people who may already lean one way or another create a bubble with others that share the same viewpoint.

“We become more solidified and confident, and make our attitudes more extreme,” Hackett said. “We only expose ourselves to people who enforce our preconceived notions.”

The extreme partisanship typically eases after the election is over, he said.

“In that moment in time, the reconciliation process will start to happen,” Hackett said.

Until that happens, Signorella has advice for someone caught in a politically heated conversation: distract or de-escalate.

Finding common ground can also cool down a heated debate, Hackett said.

“That’s always a way to minimize the uncomfortableness,” Hackett said. “Or just end the conversation.”

While some with differing political views have trouble getting along during the election season, there are others who truly show that opposites attract.

That’s the case for state Rep. Ryan Warner and his wife, Leslie Warner.

The Perryopolis couple has been together for eight years, and although she’s a staunch Democrat, and he’s firmly GOP, the two put politics aside when they walked down the aisle.

Ryan Warner said a bumper sticker on the back of wife’s car first tipped him off that they had differing political views.

“(I)t wasn’t really a shock,” he said. “Leslie had an open mind anytime that we would talk about politics so I guess, even though we didn’t always see eye to eye, it was never as issue for me.”

Leslie Warner said even though they have different viewpoints on some issues, she admires her husband’s sense of love and pride for the country and the community.

“He constantly suggested that I trade my Volkswagen for a vehicle made in the USA, and he anticipates the 4th of July like a child does Christmas,” she said.

“There are plenty of times that we have discussions back and forth regarding politics, but I don’t think either of us takes our differences personally,” Ryan Warner said. “I respect her opinions and she respects mine and often times, with civil discussions, we can find some common ground to agree on.”

Leslie Warner said humor goes a long way when you don’t agree with someone’s political views. Understanding plays a vital role, too.

“I think our relationship has helped him as state representative,” she said. “He knows the other side and the other views and issues before he ever steps into the capitol, so he is very aware of how the other side feels.”

In reality, said marriage and family therapist Sacha Martin, the divide from the Democrats and Republicans in this area isn’t so big.

“Most Democrats in (this area) support gun rights, are religious and believe in other conservative values,” said Martin, of Mount Pleasant. “Basically, they are Republicans except for two things….unions and pulling that ‘D’ lever.”

That said, Martin believes two people in a blue-state/red-state relationship can make it work based on the respect they have for each other.

“Most people identify as a Democrat or a Republican, but never think of it beyond that,” Martin said. “For those that are more political and think of it more, they need to be able to respect each other enough to accept that the other holds a different opinion on things.”

Leslie Warner said she considers herself more of an Independent, learning as much as she can about a candidate and voting for the best person for the job.

“I enjoy listening to Ryan talk about politics,” she said. “And, in turn, he seems fascinated by my point of view.”

She said she sees her husband less as a public official, and more as her best friend, business partner and a dedicated father to their two children.

“Just like in politics, before we are Republicans or Democrats, we are all Americans and we need to remember that common bond,” Ryan Warner said. “That same approach should be taken in marriage, before you’re a liberal or a conservative, you should be husband and wife.”

For those opposites who end up attracting, Martin said a peaceful coexistence would probably depend on how different each person’s belief system is.

“If one believes a woman’s role is to be barefoot and in the kitchen and the other is a hardcore feminist, I doubt they can coexist peacefully,” Martin said. “If the differences are not that severe, then it is more about communication and acceptance that the other believes something different.”

Of course, once Election Day has come and gone and America’s new president is chosen, Martin said there is another tried-and-true method to avoid a conflict if one person in a relationship didn’t see the outcome for which they voted.

“I’ve heard someone say that there are two things you don’t talk about in polite company, religion and politics.”

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

52nd District H-S Editorial Board Endorsement 

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