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Op-Ed: Being a Representative Means Knowing the Issues…Here and In Harrisburg

An Op-Ed from Rep. Justin Simmons (R-131)

On October 10th, I received the endorsement of The Express-Times in my re-election campaign for State Representative.  I am proud to have received this endorsement and for the primary reasons they chose to support me.  In their words: "Based on his stronger grasp of the issues and determination to protect taxpayers, The Express-Times editorial board endorses Republican Justin Simmons."

After nearly two years of representing the people of the 131st District, I can say without hesitation that having a strong grasp of the issues is imperative to doing the job well. Not just the big issues being debated in Harrisburg, but the issues that affect our local communities – issues that will never see the light of day in the state capital unless I bring them to the forefront.

I grew up in our community and graduated from Southern Lehigh.  My wife and I look forward to raising our own children here.  I have given my time and energy to local charities and civic organizations.  What does this mean in terms of being a Representative? It means I understand that SOCIAL SECURITY and MEDICARE are federal issues and are not decided at the state level.  I also have an understanding of what issues our local communities face such as the Lower Milford Quarry and the rising crime rate in Allentown – and can fight for those issues in Harrisburg.

I believe knowledge of the issues should be one of the first things that the people of our area demand and deserve in their State Representative.  I assumed it was something that anyone running for office would realize – and would take the time to adequately research. That's why I was so amazed by Kevin Deely’s commercials and mail pieces saying I am going to cut Social Security and Medicare (which I would like to point out again are federal issues not state issues) and during WFMZ's Business Matters candidate debate when my opponent admitted that he was "currently uninformed on that issue" when asked for his position on the Lower Milford Quarry.

I understand that no candidate running for office can be discerning on every issue.  I admit that there was more to learn upon arriving in Harrisburg even though I had spent many months studying in preparation for my legislative duties.  With that being said, I strongly believe that running for office without having knowledge about one of the biggest issues facing our local community over the past seven years is inexcusable.

Just as important as knowing the issues, is being willing to focus on all of them…not just one.  Unfortunately, this is also where my opponent falls short.  As many know, Mr. Deely is a former teachers union president who led the fight for a massive contract that caused property taxes to rise and resulted in a massive budget deficit in the Easton area school district.  Running for Representative, he has focused almost entirely on issues espoused by that union – issues that will cost Pennsylvania taxpayers even more.

The Express-Times noticed this single focus as well, calling Mr. Deely, "a newcomer who is spending most of his energy on one subject" and saying, "his argument that he could be a strong advocate for all taxpayers – not just teachers – isn't very convincing."

I have no problem with anyone disagreeing on the issues, and neither should any other citizen; that is the basis of our representative democracy.  However, not knowing the issues that are so vital to our communities should be of great concern to every citizen.

Robert Sentner October 20, 2012 at 12:50 PM
I don't know how any one can look at his record in Easton and want to elect this possible dope smoking, union loving, carpet bagger. Really how do you compare Deely to Simmons, and trust me I don't agree with Simmons all the time but I do think he is much much more qualified for the job. I don't know how you fix the schooling problems but I do know that electing someone that is all about protecting his precious union and could give a crap about the kids is not the way to go. look at his record !!!!
careless fills October 20, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Technically, Mr. Spengler is correct - that the municipality controls the zoning, but people seek assistance from their state representatives all the time to help them with problems up or down the government. Your legislator's influence counts, use it! (and as a minimum, we'd expect them to be informed on the issues of the day, wouldn't we?)
Jeremy October 21, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Mark, You say that the Quarry is a local issue yet you don't mention the Deely commercials and mail that say Simmons is going to cut Social Security and Medicare. Do you agree that these ads are false since these are federal issues not state issues?
Mark Spengler October 21, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Jeremy I did not see the add. I would agree that state Reps. cannpt cut those programs unless I'm missing something. So one thing I would need to look at is if state have some kind of say as to how the propgrams are implemented. I also want to see the commercial to see the exact language. Do you admit tht Simmons is using this quarry even though he has no say?
Gramma24 October 21, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Oh Tanya, thank you for pointing out my rudeness and ignorance, as alas, I have been told, that being registered a Democrat makes me a godless piece of sh*t. Sweet, huh, I got that from a local church........I stand my ground.......I think Simmons is a worthless sycophant (used a big word for you there) who does just what his handlers, the money bags behind Corbett, Dent, et. al. tell him to do. IF, and I state, IF he had a platform that wasn't premade for him, maybe, just MAYBE it might be worth looking at....for now it's laughable. Sorry, as 'Gramma' I'm not sitting and knitting and letting the 'menfolks' tell me how to vote (Romney-vision).....I tell my kids, and my grandkids, you don't like something, change it.......and certain don't like Simmons or the crap he spews straight from his party line. So, you want rude, Tanya.......bite me.

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