Election Day is rapidly approaching, and although the Presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has been generating an extreme amount of interest, one should not forget that there are other races for other important positions up for grabs on Nov. 8.
One such office is state Rep. Karen Boback, of Pennsylvania’s 117th Legislative District. Although Boback, a Republican, has no Democratic opposition this election - and whose name is even appearing on the Democrat section of the ballot - she is not running unopposed. Two candidates - Jay Sweeney of Falls is running as a Green Party candidate and Lou Jasikoff of Factoryville is running as an independent - to provide voters with a choice for the state representative seat in the upcoming election.
“The position of state representative is a position where experience/expertise matters,” Boback explained when asked why she believes she is the best person for the job. “I have developed a strong rapport with my constituency over the course of my tenure. My record speaks for itself. For example, aside from my legislative role in formulating laws that will impact our Commonwealth where I am one of 203 members, I have taken it upon myself to develop specific programs for our seniors, students, young adults, veterans and all law-abiding citizens.
“I have extended my two full-time offices into seven satellites, from Laceyville, to Dalton, to Hunlock Creek - my district is 642 square miles,” she continued. “I have opened my offices to monthly outreach programs for seniors, persons with disabilities, veterans, small business development and Congressional outreach. In other words, when I determine an established need, I develop a concept of service and carry it through. This makes me unique. I never stop. I govern the way I would want my representative to govern. My proven track record demonstrates my continued commitment to the people I serve.”
Asked what she is doing to prepare for the election, Boback explained that she will continued to do her job to the best of her ability.
“I believe if you do a great job during your tenure, it becomes your selling point,” she said. “I enjoy knocking on doors, making phone calls and attending events. It keeps my fingers on the pulse of my district, and keeps my ideas fresh on how I can service my constituents. But, I have done this consistently over the course of 10 years, not just during an election cycle.”
Concerning what she would do in the hopes of preventing the state budget crisis which gripped Pennsylvania for over a year, Boback replied: “My vote is always to expedite a fiscally sound and balanced budget. And I will continue to do so.”
Among the items Boback listed as her priorities for the next legislative session include:
*Eliminate school property taxes.
*Supporting an on-time, fiscally responsible budget.
*Continue to protect and defend our natural resources.
*Continue to promote economic growth for the region.
*Continue to address the growing scourge of opioid addiction.
*Continue to lobby for the people of the 117th legislative district.
Boback said she is both honored and humbled to be appearing on both the Republican and Democratic ballots, explaining this is the second time it has occurred for her out of five election cycles.
“For me, the greatest compliment a legislator can receive is to have their name appear on both major tickets,” Boback said. “It proves they represent the people they serve, not a party.”
However, Jasikoff and Sweeney both believe that Boback running unopposed is not good for the Democratic process. As a result, both men are challenging Boback at the polls to give the voters a choice.
Jasikoff’s philosophy can be summed by the election signs appearing through the area announcing his candidacy ‘Jasikoff Fiercely Independent.’
“I’m not a career politician,” he explained. “I know the area. My only concern is that those who make politics a career are not meeting the people’s needs.”
“Both main stream Democrats and Republicans are not representing the people,” he continued. “Being an independent I’d be answerable to no one but the constituents I’d be serving.”
At 65, Jasikoff explained, he’s led a full life, and has children and grandchildren.
“That all plays a part of it. I know what it’s like to run a business. I’m truly independent,” Jasikoff said, explaining he has no obligations to any party.
For his campaign, in addition to setting out signs, Jasikoff has been using Social Media to get more information out to the folks. He said he will be going to be going door-to-door throughout the entire district over the next few weeks as part of his campaign effort.
“If elected, I would be working for what would be good for the public,” Jasikoff explained. “I would work at establishing term limits.”
Jasikoff said he would also work to cut legislative salaries, including his own, explaining that $50,000 per year is more than enough for a state representative. He would also make certain bills are on-line for public viewing at least 72 hours before they would be voted on.
“Too many bills are being pushed through at the last minute,” he said.
Sweeney said he has met with a lot of people in his area, and believes they are not being properly represented.
“I feel I am the person who can do that - particularly in looking out for people,” he said.
Sweeney said he’s been doing a lot of phone contacts and using newspapers and radio in an attempt to get the message of his candidacy out. One thing he would like to see would be a bill to allow farmers - particularly dairy farmers - to grow hemp to help alleviate the economic hard times many of them are facing. He said there is a big market for hemp - particularly in the manufacture of hats and clothing - and local farmers would benefit if they could legally grow it.
Sweeney also said he is in favor of legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, particularly for pain treatment. He pointed out that many people became addicted to prescription opiates, used for pain treatment, and medical marijuana could provide a safer alternative to such patients.
As a Green Party candidate, Sweeney said he is in favor of solar and wind energy projects aimed at protecting the environment, and is opposed to natural gas drilling in the commonwealth.
Concerning taxes, Sweeney that while he agrees with Boback that school property taxes should be eliminated in Pennsylvania, he opposed her support of House Bill 7B, which would replace the money by raising income taxes from 3.07 to 4.05 percent, and the state sales tax from six to seven percent. Instead, Sweeney said, what he would support is the elimination of corporate tax loopholes in the state, and call for an equitable distribution of the income to the schools, based on student population.
“I am very strongly for independent redistricting,” Sweeney explained. “Legislators should not choose who their voters are. And third party candidates should be given better access to voters.”