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Stenger joins race for 89th

February 13, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Chambersburg businessman announced this week he is seeking the Republican nomination for the 89th District seat to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Fred Stenger, 55, of 99 Limekiln Drive, has joined the field of Republicans that includes 2002 GOP nominee Chris Sheffield and Greene Township Supervisor Rob Kauffman. Franklin County Treasurer Chris Bender announced Thursday he also was joining the race.

On the Democratic side, Chambersburg businessman Doug Harbach is seeking the nomination to succeed state Rep. Jeff Coy, who announced recently he is retiring after 11 terms.

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"I've seen the political process work, and some of the changes that need to be made have to be made at the state level, not the local level," said Stenger, who owns Johnnie's Restaurant and Hotel Service in Chambersburg.

Stenger listed property tax reform as a top priority for the legislature.

"It's what voters seem to be most angry about," he said.

He said that, for senior citizens and people on fixed incomes, "Their property taxes go up faster than their Social Security checks."

Lowering property taxes will make it necessary for the state to make up for the loss of revenue some other way, he said. Options include higher sales taxes, earned income taxes or legalized slot machines.

"I'd sure like to get the feelings of the district before I vote for slots," he said.

Stenger said unfunded state mandates on school districts and local governments amount to taxation without representation.

Pennsylvania's prevailing wage law adds about 30 percent to the cost of many government projects, Stenger said.

A $10 million school would cost $7 million if districts did not have to pay construction workers wages based on what they would be paid for similar work in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, he said.

The state employees pension plan is another issue that looms large with school districts faced with "potentially huge increases over the next few years" in contributions for their employees.

A member of the Summit Health Board of Directors and chairman of its finance committee, Stenger said health care is another priority.

"The primary thing is to have doctors here in the first place," Stenger said.

He said the lack of tort reform in the state is driving up the cost of malpractice insurance premiums. As specialists leave Pennsylvania for more physician-friendly states, he said the cost of health care is driven higher.

Stenger also serves on the board of Keystone Health Services and the Franklin County Career and Technology Center's advisory board. A member of the Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce, he served as its chairman of the board from 1994 to 1996.

Candidates have until Tuesday to get the 300 signatures on petitions they need to have their names appear on the April 27 primary ballot.

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