Cole, Keller vie for seat in 86th

April 22, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Two Perry County Republicans, Sharon K. Cole and Mark K. Keller, are seeking their party's nomination for the 86th District Pennsylvania House of Representatives seat being vacated in December by state Rep. C. Allan Egolf, who is stepping down after 12 years in Harrisburg, Pa.

Egolf, R-Perry, who was first elected to the House in 1992, said the time is right for him to leave the post.

"I've got growing grandchildren and they don't stop to wait for you," he said.

The district covers all of Perry County. It also reaches south into Franklin County to take in all of St. Thomas, Fannett and Metal townships and parts of Hamilton and Peters townships. About one-fourth of the district's registered Republican voters are in Franklin County.


"It's a long district and pretty rural, but I like the people," Egolf said.

No Democrats filed for the seat.

State representatives in Pennsylvania make $64,000 a year.

The primary will be held April 27, the general election Nov. 2.

Cole, 51, is chairman of the Rye Township Supervisors. She is in the middle of her first six-year term.

Rye Township has a population of about 2,500 people with an annual budget of about $900,000, Cole said.

Her election as township supervisor was her first try at public office, she said.

Cole works as a legislative research analyst for the State House of Representatives, a position that she said makes her a credible candidate for the 86th District seat.

"I'm the only candidate who understands completely the complicated issue of health care," she said. "I have the knowledge and experience in all levels of government and I know how to get things done."

She said she wants to reduce the cost of health care and eliminate the state's unfair property tax structure.

Cole is married to Terry Engdahl. The couple has six children.

Keller, 50, lives in Landisburg, Pa. He is serving his third six-year term as a Perry County Commissioner, a job he will have to quit if he is elected to the House.

Keller said he is running because he is a proven leader.

He said he is the first resident of Perry County to chair the Harrisburg Area Transit Study, a committee that coordinates where money should be spent in Dauphin, Cumberland and Perry counties.

"In our district, roads, especially those in Perry County, are in need of repair," he said.

He said his goal, if elected, is to try to bring about meaningful tax reform. Senior citizens who have worked all their lives and are retired are being threatened with losing their homes because of high property taxes, he said.

"It's hard for them to retain what they have worked so hard for," he said. "Studies and polls show that the property tax is recessive."

Keller said he also is devoted to preserving farmland.

He and his wife, Sally, have a son, Bryan, a senior in West Perry High School.

Keller and Cole said they expect to spend less than $20,000 on their election bids.

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