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

Mahoney announces bid to reclaim 51st Legislative District seat

Upset at the way things are going, former state Rep. Timothy S. Mahoney is running to reclaim the 51st Legislative District seat he held from 2006-2016. A plain-speaking but principled office holder, Mahoney said he can’t sit idly by while his successor favors “doing crazy things like giving away $2 billion set aside to complete the Mon-Fayette Expressway.”

“For the past year, the guy who came after me has been, for all intents and purposes, ‘The Invisible Man’ when it comes to new ideas and displaying leadership,” Mahoney said. “At the behest of many supporters and friends in Fayette and Somerset counties who want real representation, I have decided to climb back into the political ring for a rematch. I’m ready. Trust me on that.”

Mahoney, of South Union Township, said he plans to gain back the seat with the backing of the Fayette County Democratic Party that was splintered in 2016, but is now more unified.

He also said national campaign forces that were a factor in state and local races two years ago won’t create the same political backdraft that aided his opponent.

“The number of people urging me to run again is nothing short of astonishing,” Mahoney said. “Everywhere I go, I started asking people, ‘Are things better, worse or the same?’ The overwhelming response was, ‘Tim, things are worse than they’ve ever been!’ I want to change that, and quick.”

As a state legislator, Mahoney said he wasn’t afraid to put forth bold ideas and take tough stands, even if it meant breaking with his party’s leadership or governor.

He was the author of the House version of an updated state Open Records Law that many of his peers didn’t initially want, and he steadfastly refused to raise taxes under Republican and Democratic governors. Mahoney was also a strong advocate for maintaining and expanding the number of state police, and used the Open Records Law to obtain information that documented a shortfall in the number of troopers at the Uniontown Barracks.

Another signature issue for Mahoney was early warnings about the heroin and opioid crisis. Under a Republican administration, he made a key ally, of the director of the state office of Drug and Alcohol Programs, held the first Town Hall meeting in the state on the topic and urged more state funding for addiction treatment way before it became politically fashionable.

“People know I’m not afraid to speak out when something needs said, or to do something when something needs done,” Mahoney said. “I drive a pickup truck, attend my kids’ and grandkids’ ball games, and root for the Steelers, Penguins and Pirates.

“When I’m your representative, you get someone who’s one of you. Not someone who’s one of them.”

Follow “Bring Back Tim Mahoney” on Facebook.

Candidate Exit Releases

Back to business for Tim Mahoney

Outgoing state Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-51st) talked about his future plans, accomplishments and regrets during the past 1 years in office during an interview Friday.

Defeated by political newcomer, Republican Matt Dowling of Uniontown in the past November election, Mahoney believes it was related to what he called “Trump Mania.”

Mahoney said he believes the Republican wave swept throughout Western Pennsylvania. And, in the case of his district, he said the Republican party in Harrisburg poured money into the hands of his opponent.

“The Republicans spent over $300,000 against me,” he said. “Part of their marketing efforts were signs that said “I’m with her,” and identified me with Hillary Clinton. Those weren’t my signs.

“This young man (Dowling) who was just elected didn’t raise more than $3,000. Most of it came from Harrisburg people. He’s indebted to someone. … Where are his values going to be? Are they going to be with the people who financed his campaign or with his Fayette County constituents?”

Mahoney said people believe that Dowling is a conservative.

“Well not paying your mortgage bill on your home doesn’t seem conservative to me,” he said. “It sounds like you’re trying to put a debt on the people who invested in the bank.”

The Uniontown businessman said that he never considered a political career as part of his future until later in life.

Mahoney traced his entry into the political arena at the age of 50 to somewhat of a a “midlife crisis” that came when his oldest son, Tim Mahoney Jr., began managing his businesses.

“I didn’t know what career I really wanted (then),” Mahoney said. “I think that I was the right person at the right time. It wasn’t about a title – I never dreamed about being a politician when I was younger.

“I’ve owned 28 taverns, bars and restaurants. I’ve built over 100 houses, and I have 150 rental properties. I couldn’t see myself sitting on a back porch,” he added.

His father, James Mahoney, a Republican, was chief of police in Uniontown for 30 years.

“He always taught us – and there were seven children in my family – that you weren’t any better than other people and you needed to help them,” he said.

His conversion to the Democratic Party came as a result of his early work as a coal miner.

The life experience also resonated during this year’s Presidential campaign when he confronted Bill Clinton on Hillary’s infamous remark that she would, “Put a lot of coal miners out of work,” over pollution issues.

“I started in the coal mine,” Mahoney said. “ I was trapped for four hours once. We had to walk out in water up to our noses. That’s what changed my mind about the coal mines.”

Mahoney said he became a Democrati when Hillary made the statement about the coal miners.

“That really did it around here,” he said. “I think that was her downfall in Pennsylvania. I told her husband (Bill) that when I met him at Meloni’s Restaurant in Uniontown. He said that he didn’t know why she made the statement. That man’s a politician – he could fit in anywhere.”

Mahoney said that his biggest personal regret is that, “I feel sorry that I can’t help people like I have been able to. That’s the sadness of the whole thing. … I enjoyed the 10 years.

“When you’re able to help somebody, that’s the satisfying part,” he added. “For example, telling an 80-year-old woman that she’s eligible for heating assistance, someone who didn’t even know that they were qualified.”

However, Mahoney said he did miss major family events while he was in office.

“Five grandchildren were born in the last five years. But my family understands,” he said.

Asked about his accomplishment in office, Mahoney quickly cited the Open Records law and the Castle Doctrine.

His biggest political regret was not making progress on property tax reform that he believed would have been possible by adopting a system similar to Maryland’s school district consolidation.

Mahoney claims that applying the Maryland system to Fayette County would have resulted in a $50 million annual savings to taxpayers and would have improved schools.

“My one regret is that we didn’t get tax relief in Fayette County,” Mahoney said. “We need to get rid of these imaginary power lines – the school boards where everybody wants their little niche of power.

“I’ve met school board members who have their grandchild hired – the only problem is that the grandchild hasn’t been born yet. We’re not being fair to our school teachers, to our property owners or our kids.”

Will Mahoney consider running for political office in the future?

“I don’t know if I’ll go back into politics. I’ll leave the door open,” he replied. “A lot of those people in Harrisburg get a title, and they think that they are above people. With me it’s what you see is what you get.

“I never went to the galas – I was a hands-on person. Sometimes you feel like you’re beating your head against the wall and you wonder what will break first – your head or the wall,” he added.

Mahoney said Fayette County is always among the last in the state to receive funding.

“Coming from the East End of (Uniontown) … I’ve had friends who are on the bottom and have had trouble with the law. Then, I have good friends who are billionaires.

“That’s the problem in Harrisburg. I think it’s just like Washington, D.C.,” he added. “People have different reasons why they are there. They are there for a job and for a paycheck but not for the right reasons. “

Mahoney said he wishes everyone would step into politics at the age of 50.

“That’s when you’ve learned the life values. Then you serve ten or fifteen years and get out,” he said.

Despite rumors to the contrary, the Mahoney family’s annual free Christmas dinner to the needy will continue to go on now that he is no longer in office.

“I will continue the Christmas dinner,“ he said. “That was one of the most gratifying things – it may be one of the most important things I started.

“Giving the needy a meal or just a place to go on Christmas day for people who didn’t want to be alone is very gratifying. My whole family has become involved.

“People want to donate to the dinner now and that’s OK. But I’m not financially distraught. I’m fortunate enough to be able to do it,” he added.

“Now other people want to step in and help so we’ll make it larger and better. I’m grateful to Hartsek Catering, too, because I’m no cook,” Mahoney laughed.

Franklin LaCava is a staff reporter for The Daily Courier and may be reached at flacava@dailycourier.com or (724) 628-2000 ext 116.

Candidate Exit Releases

Mahoney: Proud of 10 years of public service in the 51st Legislative District

Rep. Timothy S. Mahoney    November 22, 2016

When I was first elected to the state House in 2006, it was out of a deep-seated desire to do good for the people of the 51st Legislative District, Fayette County and the state of Pennsylvania.

I knew then that I was not the fanciest-talking elected official – nor would I ever be. But I was a straight shooter who believed that the people deserved better. From my early success as prime sponsor of the House version of an updated Open Records Law, which for the first time included the state legislature, to the recent announcement of a $1.5 million state grant to help fund expansion of the Boeing plant in Georges Township – and thousands of things, large and small, in between – I am proud of my 10-year track record as a state representative.

My time in this position ends this month, following the results of the Nov. 8 election where voters in the 51st District, which now includes part of western Somerset County, chose to go in a different direction, just as they did back in 2006 when they elected me.

I respect their decision and wish my successor good luck. We still face a lot of challenges in Fayette and Somerset counties, such as job creation, eliminating suffocating school property taxes, combating a heroin and opioid abuse epidemic that I was among the first to warn about, and obtaining a satisfactory level of police protection.

While I have worked tirelessly to achieve those goals, one quickly discovers that the wheels of Harrisburg – much like the proverbial wheels of justice – often grind slowly. In many cases, they grind way too slowly for a guy like me, who wants to get things done quickly even if it means upending and upsetting the status quo. For the past decade, for better or worse, I have told it as I saw it, with no sugar coating or sidestepping.

Am I disappointed that my idea to consolidate the administrations of Fayette County’s public school districts, at a potential savings of up to $60 million, was never seriously considered by local school boards who regularly raise your property taxes? You bet I am.

Am I proud that I was one of 13 House Democrats who voted with Republicans to end last year’s nine-month state budget impasse, so our schools and social services finally could be funded, without raising income or sales taxes despite intense lobbying from my own party to do so? You bet I am.

And do I believe that my constituents in the 51st Legislative District, whether they supported me or not, deserve top-shelf service when seeking help from state programs and agencies? You bet I do – and that’s why I stood up to the governor when he tried to make those services more difficult to obtain through the offices of several legislators, including mine, after our anti-tax budget votes. That’s called having a backbone.

I know what my legislative record was and remain confident that it will pass the test of time, rising above whatever distortions and fabrications were purposely pasted over it in the past few months.

As I exit public office to return to the private sector, which was always part of my plan, I take comfort in knowing that for the past 10 years, my legislative staff and I have done our best to provide constituent services, obtain funding for worthy projects, put new ideas on the table and fight for what we thought was right.

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.