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Politis challenges Shuster for U.S. House seat

October 21, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The differences between politicians often can become blurred, but the race for the 9th Congressional District to the U.S. House of Representatives gives voters a clear choice on Nov. 2.

Republican incumbent Bill Shuster and Democratic nominee Paul I. Politis are on the opposite side of most issues.

"I represent the values, the beliefs and the interests of the people of the 9th Congressional District by working to cut taxes, working to reform Medicare and making sure there's a prescription drug benefit for seniors, working to strengthen our military and homeland security in response to the war on terrorism," Shuster, 43, of Hollidaysburg, Pa., said Tuesday.

"I truly believe our country is going in the wrong direction on every issue ... and Bill Shuster is part of the problem," Politis, 56, of Greencastle, Pa., said Wednesday. He called Shuster "a Republican voting machine" who has "no apparent thoughts of his own."

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"I know the issues and I'm beholden to no one," Politis said.

Shuster was elected in a special election in May 2001 to fill the vacancy created when his father resigned from Congress shortly after being elected to his 15th term in the House. Shuster won a close race for the nomination in the April primary against challenger Michael DelGrosso.

Politis said he served 16 years as a school director in the Forbes Road School District and worked 14 years as a newspaper reporter. If the men have anything in common, it is automobiles. Shuster owned a car dealership in East Freedom, Pa., and Politis is the owner of an antique automobile manual and memorabilia business.

In 1998, Politis announced he would run against the senior Shuster, but withdrew from the race after his petitions for the Democratic nomination were challenged by Shuster supporters. He was unopposed for the Democratic nomination in April.

The 9th District includes all of six counties in central Pennsylvania and parts of 11 others. The current annual salary for a member of Congress is $158,100, according to the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

"I am a strong pro-life candidate and I believe strongly in protecting the sanctity of marriage," said Shuster, who supports a constitutional amendment to ban homosexual marriages.

"What the constitutional amendment does is stop federal judges from legislating from the bench," Shuster said. "Those decisions belong to the state legislatures and the national legislature," he said.

"Abortion is not a political issue," but a personal decision, Politis states on his campaign Web site. He also states that the marriage amendment would be unconstitutional and "endorsing prejudice."

Politis said he is different from politicians who "look to the next election, not the next generation" on issues such as the economy, government spending and health care.

He criticized the Bush administration for trying to prevent people from buying cheaper medicines in Canada and not trying to negotiate lower prices with domestic drug companies. Now the government is trying to get flu vaccines from Canada, he said.

Shuster said part of his job is making sure the tax dollars of his constituents are returned to the 9th District to build roads, water and sewer systems and provide other public services.

Shuster, who recently went to Iraq with a congressional delegation, has supported Bush in the war against terrorism, including the war in that country. "At the end of this endeavor we have an opportunity to develop a stable and democratic Iraq" and that the elections there in January are critical to reducing the threat of terrorism, he said Tuesday.

"The war on terrorism has to be a global effort," according to Politis, who said Bush has alienated and damaged American credibility around the world and divided this country. "I have never, even in the Vietnam era, seen such divisiveness in the country and Bush is responsible," he said.

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