Incumbent Sen. Punt finds favor among his hometown folks

January 10, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Waynesboro residents contacted Wednesday by The Herald-Mail were in support of their hometown, incumbent candidate to the Pennsylvania Senate, although many questioned whether Terry Punt would run again.

Punt has publicly talked about plans to run, but he said his final decision will be forthcoming in an announcement soon. Franklin County Republican Committee Chairman Jim Taylor this week announced that he will seek his party's nomination for the seat in the 33rd District, representing Franklin, Adams and a portion of York counties.

"My personal opinion is that Mr. Punt has done a great job and did well for Waynesboro getting grant money, so he has my support," said Delmos Oldham, Waynesboro's tax collector.

Punt - who is vice chairman of the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee - released a statement this week reiterating his pride in obtaining "hundreds of millions of dollars" for projects, including traffic lights and business incentives in the Waynesboro area.


"He has been very effective for the Waynesboro area in bringing back the bacon," said Benjamin Greenawalt, a Waynesboro councilman.

Greenawalt said that he would "probably support" Punt if the state senator were to run again.

"I'm not saying we don't need a change up there in Harrisburg. There's still reform to be done," Greenawalt said.

Taylor said in his candidacy announcement that he was spurred to run, in part, by the 2005 legislative pay raise controversy in which the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed middle-of-the-night pay increases for lawmakers, judges and some members of the executive branch. The decision was later reversed, but Punt took heat for originally voting in favor of the salary hikes.

"If anyone can show me where they haven't made a mistake, they can throw stones at him," said Roger Beckner of St. Thomas, Pa.

Beckner, a former Franklin County Republican Committee chairman, criticized Taylor for challenging Punt.

"I would definitely not be voting for Mr. Taylor and that's because, in his position as county chairman ... I would just say it's not ethical to run against a sitting state senator. If the state senator wouldn't be running, that'd be different," Beckner said.

"I'm not going to comment on it at all. Not even a little," state Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin-Cumberland, said when asked for his reaction to Taylor's announcement. Kauffman said he had no foreknowledge that the GOP county chairman was planning to run against Punt.

Kauffman said he will be running in the April 22 primary for the Republican nomination for a third term in the House.

State Rep. Todd Rock, R-Franklin, did not return calls to his office and house.

Don Schilling and Ashley Smith, both of Waynesboro, said that Punt has their support right now because of his two-decade career.

"I think Terry Punt has made some contacts and friends where he is and has brought a lot of money to Franklin County," Schilling said.

If the election were today, "I'd go with Punt because he's been here longer and is stronger in that position," Smith said.

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