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Punt won't seek re-election to Pa. Senate

January 17, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. ? Pennsylvania State Senator Terry Punt, R-Franklin/Adams, announced Thursday that he will not seek re-election to a sixth term for his seat in the 33rd District.

He said he will retire at the end of the year.

"I have given my district my very best over the years," Punt said. "I set out with certain goals and have achieved those goals. I have worked very hard for my district. I have fought hard for the people, but now it is time to move on."

Punt, 57, of Waynesboro, Pa., is a five-term Pennsylvania state senator. Before that, he served 10 years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Punt said he is putting his children first and pointed out that he will soon become a grandfather - time he plans to enjoy.

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Franklin County Republican Committee Chairman Jim Taylor last 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.

"Terry is the last Franklin County senior statesman in Harrisburg, and seniority means clout," County Commissioner Bob Thomas said. "All one needs to do is look at the projects like the U.S. 30 improvements" and widening Pa. 16 east of Waynesboro, he said.

The list also includes the county's Agricultural Heritage Building, which will open this year, Thomas said.

"Terry has been the go-to guy when you needed something done in Franklin County," Thomas said.

Not since 1988, when he first ran for the state Senate, had Punt been looking at a GOP primary opponent. Taylor announced his candidacy last week.

In recent years, Punt has faced serious health issues, including heart bypass surgery, although he appeared healthier in recent public appearances, forgoing the use of a cane.

In recent years, the county has seen several senior politicians leave office, either by retirement or by losing an election,

After 18 years in the House, state Rep. Patrick Fleagle, R-Franklin, was ousted by Republican Todd Rock in 2006. Former State Rep. Stephen Maitland, whose district included just two precincts in Franklin County, was ousted by a Republican challenger two years ago in the wake of the pay raise controversy from 2005.

Former state Rep. Jeff Coy, D-Franklin/Cumberland, retired from the House four years ago, as did Republican State Rep. Allan Egolf, whose district included the northwest portion of Franklin County.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Thomas noted that former U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, R-9th, who chaired the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, retired in 2001, although son Bill Shuster took over the seat.

In county politics, former commissioners G. Warren Elliott and Cheryl Plummer retired after three terms on the board.

"We're stunned by the announcement, but we respect Terry's right to make that decision," Washington Township Manager Michael Christopher said. "From a representative of the people of Washington Township, he's been fabulous. There are many infrastructure items that are in place because of his statesmanship."

Widening Pa. 16 in the Wayne Heights area and the truck-climbing lane up to Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., were two of the major improvements listed by Christopher, along with funding for traffic lights along the Pa. 16 corridor and money to improve the township's water system.

"This is absolutely an enormous loss of future potential revenue streams for Franklin County," Christopher said. The bricks-and-mortar projects Punt helped fund, he said, "had an impact on the quality of life in Washington Township and the Waynesboro area."

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