90th District candidates eager to move on

November 09, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The 90th House District's 18-year incumbent removed the blue-and-white "Fleagle for All of Us" signs from rain-soaked roadways Wednesday after losing the general election the day before.

Patrick E. Fleagle said gathering signs was "kind of therapeutic" after a year of campaigning in the tight race with fellow Republican Todd A. Rock, who won the Pennsylvania House of Representatives seat Tuesday night by nearly 8 percent of votes.

Fleagle's relief allowed him to "sleep like a baby" after the election, while Rock dozed for less than an hour before the start of his teaching day at the Franklin County Career and Technology Center.

Their activities Wednesday might have differed, but both men were looking to the future and the changeover of representation in the state capital.


"I know kind of what to expect when I get there, but I'm sure there are going to be surprises," Rock said.

The 43-year-old Mont Alto, Pa., resident admitted being overwhelmed at the tasks ahead, but said he will first focus on hiring a staff and setting up offices in Waynesboro and Greencastle, Pa. He's also headed to Harrisburg, Pa., for three days of orientation.

Fleagle is anxious about the transition - not for personal reasons but rather for the continuity of projects like stormwater management in Greencastle and well operations in Mercersburg, Pa.

"I'm really worried about the projects and some of the initiatives we started. I feel like I let them down," said Fleagle, vice chairman of the appropriations committee.

The 55-year-old Waynesboro resident retains immense pride in a staff he feels delivered exemplary constituent services.

"Just in PennDOT work alone, we helped thousands of people," Fleagle said. "A lot of times, your office is a last place to turn."

The phones in that office rang constantly Wednesday as supporters offered condolences.

"I feel bad for people. They always start out, 'I'm so sorry.' I didn't die; I lost an election," Fleagle said.

Rock also fielded calls Wednesday, many with congratulations from the volunteers he said were committed enough to give up evenings and weekends to campaign.

Throughout the campaign, Rock said he was "always confident" he'd win the seat judging by conversations with voters.

"I was confident I'd do well. I didn't think I'd win by 1,700. I just needed the people to come out like they did," Rock said.

Franklin County's voter turnout Tuesday was more than 52 percent, up from 48 percent in the 2002 midterm election.

"I was hoping for a big turnout, and we got that," Rock said.

Rock, a member of the Waynesboro Area School Board, accumulated 11,558 votes to Fleagle's 9,856. Both men are Republicans, although Fleagle appeared on ballots as the Democratic nominee after losing the primary election to Rock.

Fleagle said he respected the voters' choice and feels that perhaps it really is time for a change.

"This isn't my position," Fleagle said of the job. "It belongs to the people."

His relief experienced late Tuesday carried over to Wednesday evening upon realizing he didn't have obligations scheduled that would take him outside the home. The grandfather of four youngsters also remembered the upcoming holidays and a comment made by his wife, Jane, after the primary loss.

"She said, 'We've been on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride for 18 years, and maybe it's time to get off," Fleagle said.

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