During the excitement of a Presidential Election, the voices of American communities, the local leaders, are often overlooked. Incumbent Congressman, Charlie Dent, and opponent, Rick Daughtery, visited KU to explain the importance of local elections.
Both candidates for the Pa. 15th Congressional District were interviewed by the Kutztown University Radio Station Manager, Mike Regensburger. The interview was aired on Tuesday, Oct. 2. Both candidates were separately asked the same series of questions regarding the upcoming election. This election is not only significant because it is a Presidential Election, but it is also the first election since redistricting.
Pennsylvania’s redistricting has a direct effect on Kutztown and surrounding towns. Previously, district 15 included Lehigh County, Northampton County and parts of Montgomery County and Berks County. Since redistricting, sixty thousand Berks County residents will now be voting as members of the 15th district of Pennsylvania.
In the interview, Congressional Democratic Candidate Daughtery informed the audience of results from redistricting, “What had been a democratic performing district is now a republican performing district.”
In the interview, the candidates gave their opinions regarding their political stance and why the community should vote Republican/Democratic. Dent believes people should vote Republican to focus on the three crises of jobs, debt and leadership.
Daugherty urges voters to support the Democratic Party to persevere equality and opportunities for all.
Both candidates have been involved with different legislations. Dent has worked on issues involving synthetic drugs, such as bath salts and synthetic marijuana; Dent supports the ban on these dangerous compounds. Congressman Dent has also worked on the Medical Reliability Reform Bill, a piece of legislation dealing with costly street sign requirements and local homeland issues. The incumbent congressman brought up the issue of the 15th congressional district being the largest cement-producing district in America.
“Many of the rules coming down from the EPA have been quite onerous, and so much so, that we anticipate 20% of the cement-making capacity of this county will be lost,” said Dent.
He plans to address this issue if re-elected.
Daughtery, the opposing candidate, supports legislation that will ensure American tax dollars use within the country to build bridges and roads. He highlighted the issue of unfair trade policies and discussed how sending jobs overseas have hurt the district.
“We just lost over 600 jobs in the Lehigh Valley when T-Mobile moved over seas,” said Daughtery said,
Daughtery supports the Call Center Consumer Protection Act, which would place limitations on sending jobs overseas.
The democratic candidate currently works at the Lehigh County Senior Center and says it is important to “protect and strengthen programs that help senior citizens. Medicare being at the top of that list and Social Security next.”
When asked about the Affordable Health Care Act, Daughtery said he supports it, but he looks to improve it by removing excess regulations.
“The Health Care Law, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will kill 800,000 jobs over the next ten years,” Dent said.
He continued to say that the mandate would require employers to reduce payroll or to limit employee hours. Congressman Dent believes that the Health Care Act would have a detrimental effect on the job opportunities for the country’s young people.
In relation to being at KU, the candidates addressed students’ concerns. Congressman Dent said, “We want to drive investments right now so these young people here at Kutztown will have opportunities to work.” He noted how graduates are concerned about their employment prospects. He believes the solution, as a policy maker, is to enact policies that will help the economy grow.
Daugherty added, “I’m very concerned about the amount of debt that students are graduating with.”
Both candidates emphasized the importance of college education and affordability. Both candidates support Pell Grants and low interest rates on student loans.
The upcoming election is of high importance for the future of our country. The 15th Congressional seat of Pa. will represent the district of Kutztown and surrounding areas. This elected official will respond to the issues in district 15 and formulate the ideas that are presented to the President of the United States. It is important to value the right to vote, but it is even more important to know the values of the candidates.
By Haley Bianco