State office candidates address Berks Patriots

Lt. gov. candidate says gerrymandering not issue

WFMZ News report

ONTELAUNEE TWP., Pa. - More than 100 people gathered at a meeting of the Berks County Patriots at the Leesport Farmers Market on Thursday to hear gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner speak, and to ask him questions.

Wagner was joined by his running-mate, lieutenant governor candidate Jeff Bartos. Born and raised in Berks County, Bartos served as the spokesman on the current state issue, but national news item, congressional redistricting.

Tackling the topic, Bartos explained his stance: "It's not about redistricting, gerrymandering... The Democrats are trying to achieve victory in the courts."

He assured the audience that the state Republicans would come out on the victorious side of the issue, even if it meant filing a lawsuit in federal court if the state court did not rule in their favor.

When it was Wagner's turn to speak, he told the audience that he is the "only candidate who can beat Tom Wolf."

Bartos and Scott were asked for their thoughts on the response Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati issued to Gov. Tom Wolf regarding the rejected congressional map proposal. In it, Reading was specifically mentioned as having to be connected to rural areas. Wagner had not had the opportunity to read the speaker and Senate president's response.

Wagner spoke to a variety of hot button issues — earning a round of applause at the mention of property tax elimination, but he emphasized what essentially boils down to the three pillar issues of his campaign: budget, education and state agencies.

An experienced businessman, Wagner stated his approach to balancing a state budget would be like running a business.

Talking about education, Wagner stated that it "makes me angry when I hear about teachers spending money on classroom supplies."

He stressed that he would like to see teachers and counselors starting to talk to kids about careers sooner, possibly even in middle school. He stated that too many students are often not presented with the idea of college or career options until the thought of dropping out has already crossed their mind. He would like to see more students pursue skilled labor positions.

Wagner expressed his view on the need to rein in state agencies. He specifically cited the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Labor and Industry.

While fielding questions from those in attendance, Wagner reiterated his stances on increasing school security (in reference to the shooting in Parkland, Florida), his disfavor for gender neutral bathrooms in reference to transgender issues, and a desire to reformat welfare assistance to help recipients find gainful employment.

At their meeting on March 15, the Patriots will hear from another gubernatorial candidate — Paul Mango.

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