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86th District race one of few contested seats in county

May 08, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH

FANNETTSBURG, PA. -- One of the few contested races for Franklin County, Pa., voters going to the polls for the May 18 primary election will be in the 86th District of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

The 86th District serves Franklin and Perry counties, including parts or all of Fannett, Hamilton, Metal, St. Thomas and Peters townships. Republican Mark Keller has held the seat since he first was elected in 2004.

Republican Michael J. Lapp of Newport, Pa., filed to run against Keller, as he did two years ago. Lapp said he took lessons from that failed bid and applied them to this campaign.

"Harrisburg is a mess," said Lapp, 48. "The system is only good for the politicians."

Meanwhile, Keller, 56, said he stands on his record and his accessibility to the people he represents. If elected, his plans for another term include making Pennsylvania more business friendly, addressing transportation concerns, reforming agricultural regulations and continuing to seek tax reform.

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Keller said increased spending needs to stop, saying he doesn't understand how the governor could propose more than $1 billion in new spending for 2010-11.

"The state needs to tighten its belt, too," he said.

As a rank-and-file lawmaker not part of the negotiating process, Keller said he's not optimistic a budget will be passed by the June 30 deadline. The budget was finalized 101 days late in 2009.

"If it was up to me, last time there would've been a budget on time," he said.

People are very concerned about property tax reform, and while it might not be possible to eliminate property taxes completely, relief is needed, Keller said.

Lapp said legislators should not be paid during the period in which a budget is overdue. Then, when the budget is passed, they should receive only 25 percent of their back pay for that time.

"What they're doing is using state employees and us as a leverage tool," he said.

Lapp said people tell him they're concerned about the way health care reform was adopted and they're worried about losing their houses because of high property taxes.

"They want to see it gone," he said of property taxes.

People would rather expand the sales tax so that if you buy a $50 pair of pants, you would pay more tax than if you chose to buy a $20 pair, Lapp said.

He said he understands what it's like to be part of a working-class family in Pennsylvania.

If people want change, they must vote out incumbents, he said.

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