Shuster faces challenge in 9th District

October 23, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - As Republican Bill Shuster tries for his first full term representing Pennsylvania's 9th Congressional District in Washington, D.C., Democrat John Henry hopes he will appeal to voters by being a regular guy.

Henry, owner of a Breezewood, Pa., restaurant, said he is running for office so the people in the 9th District "could have a regular person, a person of the same common background, to represent them."

Henry said he hopes that is enough to sway the largely Republican 9th District in his favor.

Shuster, 41, won a special election in May 2001 after his father, Bud Shuster, unexpectedly retired at the start of his 14th term.


Henry has no political experience except a failed attempt six years ago to run for the same office, but said he has been a political junkie since age 9.

"I first started following politics in the election of 1969," said Henry, 41. "I had to sneak into my parents' bedroom and lay on the floor so they didn't know I was watching the results come in."

A few years later, he encountered Bud Shuster talking to students on the school bus.

"He said 'hi' to me and asked what I wanted to be. I looked at him and said 'I want your job,'" Henry said.

Henry has owned the Fort Littleton Family Restaurant for four years and said he knows the district's issues.

"The most important issue now is to get the economy going," Henry said, also adding prescription drug benefits, health insurance, education and homeland security as other key issues.

"I felt Congressman Shuster didn't represent us appropriately. I feel I best represent the people of the 9th District," he said.

Henry said he has a plan for each county in the district, including getting federal funds for a hospital in Fulton County, to improve roads in Franklin County and completing Pa. 219 in Somerset County.

Redistricting changed the scope of the 9th District earlier this year, and Shuster said he has spent the last few months getting to know the people in the new territory, as well as campaigning in the remainder of the 9th District, which covers all or part of 14 counties, including Bedford, Blair, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Clearfield, Mifflin, Perry, Indiana, Somerset, Cambria, Cumberland and Fayette.

Shuster said his first year-and-a-half in office has been a whirlwind.

"Sept. 11 refocused efforts of fighting the war on terrorism and securing the homeland. When we get past that, the concerns are still about creating jobs, improving Medicare, prescription drugs for seniors and education," he said.

Shuster bills his first term a success, with the approval of education initiatives, tax legislation and the House approval of a prescription drug plan.

"That has gone to the black hole of the Senate and is irresponsible of them," Shuster said. "Seniors out there desperately need that relief today."

If elected to a second term, Shuster said he would continue to work to improve the tax and regulatory climate in the country to make sure businesses are not overburdened with tax bills.

"I want to make sure that we are moving forward and freeing up businesses to expand and hire people," he said.

"Back here at home, we're helping communities build needed infrastructure," he said. "Helping the people at home is an important part of the job."

The winner of the Nov. 5 election will receive a $150,000 annual salary.

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