Candidates running in two special elections during this month’s primary spoke out Thursday during a “Candidate Forum” held at BC3.
Democrat Sam Doctor, 28, and Republican Marci Mustello, 48, want to take the seat of former State Rep. Brian Ellis in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives’ 11th District.
The two debated on several topics last night including what to do about the opioid crisis, should the size of the state legislature be reduced and should the state enact a fracking tax.
“Harrisburg is broken, and Washington, D.C. is even worse,” Doctor, a crane operator at AK Steel, said Thursday. “Our representatives lack integrity. They serve their own interests instead of the interests of their constituents.”
Marci Mustello is a long-term political aide, working for the last several years for U.S. Congressman Mike Kelly, of Butler.
“We don’t need more government, we need a government that works better,” Mustello said. “I will put the people of Butler County first- no matter who you are- business owner, employee, union member, retiree, student…Everybody is important. My job is to listen and represent you.”
The most boisterous part of the debate came during a discussion of labor unions. The moderator asked how the candidates felt about
“How do you feel organized labor is faring in Pennsylvania today?,” asked moderator Ron Vodenichar. “Are their protections or limitations you’d like to see put in place?”
“Really without talking to all of the labor organizations and all of the members, I really can’t answer what exactly their needs are and what their wants are,” Mustello answered first. “But I’m always open to talking to them. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 22 years from Erie County down to Butler County.”
But Doctor- a member of UAW Local 3303- had something more contentious to say.
“If you want to find out what people involved in labor want or need you to talk to them- that’s what I’ve been doing. That’s what our representatives have neglected to do,” Doctor said. “I know from the experiences of our officers (as AK Steel)…when they came to visit Mike Kelly in D.C….we were not treated with friendship and openness.”
Upon hearing that, Congressman Kelly- who was in the audience- shouted “no way” from the crowd and told Doctor to stop by his office, to which Doctor replied he has.
The elected candidate will replace former State Rep. Ellis who resigned in February after 15 years in office.
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