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89th candidates face off in Pa. debate

October 14, 2004|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

SHIPPENSBURG, PA. - The candidates for the 89th District seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives squared off Wednesday evening at Shippensburg University in the only public debate of the campaign.

Republican nominee Rob Kauffman and Democratic nominee Doug Harbach met in Old Main Chapel, fielding questions from a panel of members of the College Democrats and College Republicans and Sara Grove, the interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The two will face off in the Nov. 2 general election.

In answer to the question, "What steps should the legislature take to prevent the outmigration of young people from Pennsylvania?" Harbach said keeping jobs within the state is important. He said that a study by The Brookings Institution alarmed him when it stated that Pennsylvania ranks fifth in the nation in the number of college graduates and students, but next to last in maintaining them in the state for jobs. He is endorsed by the local chambers of commerce and he supports small business and programs to help businesses maintain jobs, he said.

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Kauffman said that the way businesses looking to locate along the Interstate 81 corridor perceive Franklin County is crucial. "We need to make sure Pennsylvania is seen as business-friendly."

Both candidates were prepared with a list of issues they intend to champion in the state's General Assembly.

Harbach said he would work to expand the Pacenet program, which helps senior citizens with prescription drug costs. "When I went door-to-door, I was continually saddened to hear senior citizens talk about making choices between prescription drugs and food," he said, adding that federal-level prescription drug programs, "have holes in them, and I will develop initiatives to fill those holes."

Harbach said he also would spearhead legislation to give young people incentives, such as tuition assistance, for serving with volunteer fire companies and other emergency services.

Kauffman, whose wife, parents and grandparents attended the forum, said many citizens are overwhelmed by their school tax bills, and he intends to work for tax reform.

He said he doesn't have all the answers to tax reform, but said the sales tax bill that the Commonwealth Caucus has in committee is a good starting point.

"It's immoral for Pennsylvania to tax seniors out of their homes," he said.

During his door-to-door campaign, he said, he heard many stories from seniors who said they were no longer able to see specialists because the doctors have left the area, prompting him to name the medical malpractice crisis as his second area of concern. Kauffman said his third area of focus would be creating jobs.

Neither candidate is a proponent of term limits, and neither supports the taxation of unearned income, such as pensions.

Harbach, the vice president of e-LYNXX Corp., and Kauffman, a Greene Township supervisor, are running for the seat vacated by former state Rep. Jeff Coy, who resigned his seat last month to take a position on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Coy, an 11-term Democrat, announced in February that he would not seek a 12th term in the House.

Patricia Spakes, the provost and vice president for academic affairs, served as moderator of the forum.

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