As we look ahead to November’s elections, North Hills Patch is devoted to bring you the information you need about every race in town. Here's our start on the candidates and issues we'll be covering as November draws near. Bookmark this page for updates.
President Barack Obama versus former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Pennsylvania has delivered its 20 electoral votes to the Democratic nominee for President in the last five elections, and if hold steady, Mr. Obama will make it six in a row in November.
The President has not taken Pennsylvania’s support for granted, and has made to the western Pennsylvania area in the past several years, even going as far as choosing Pittsburgh to host the G-20 summit in the fall of 2009. In his most president lobbied for his $447 billion dollar American Jobs Act, which continues to face an uphill battle by Republicans in congress.
The president has also sent what many consider his most potent weapon, his wife, to shore up support in the Pittsburgh area. visited with service members of the 911th Airlift Wing and 171st Refueling Wing in April. Vice President also visited the Moon Township base in May.
Mitt Romney is no stranger to the region either, even though suggest the GOP nominee seems to place little importance on winning votes in Pennsylvania.
Romney for a fundraiser in October; the event was closed to the media.
He returned for an April , where he outlined his plans for the economy. “I’d like to reduce the burden on middle-income taxpayers,” Romney said. “I’d like to see anyone making $200,000-$250,000 or less—which is 98 percent of Americans—save their money tax-free. No capital gains. It’ll make filing taxes a lot easier and people can save money for things they care about."
Romney was back in Pittsburgh a month later, criticizing the president for the nation’s unemployment rate during a visit to a family-owned manufacturing plant in O’Hara.
The number one issue for western Pennsylvania voters, as with many voters across the country, is jobs and the sluggish economic recovery.
President Obama continues to campaign for the American Jobs Act, which the White House says, will prevent up to 280,00 teacher layoffs, allow for the hiring of tens of thousands of police officers and firefighters, encourage the hiring of returning veterans, and invest billions into roads, rails, airports and waterways.
And he blames Congress for not doing enough. Congress “hasn’t acted fast enough,” the president told his supporters at a recent rally. “Congress," he said, “can’t just sit on their hands.”
Governor Romney and other Republicans suggest the Obama plan is nothing more than a payoff to Democratic constituent groups, particularly organized labor, which would benefit from federal grants to states to keep government workers on the payroll, as well as construction projects to be completed by union job crews.
On his campaign’s web site, Romney blames the President’s policies for the lack of job growth. “The vast expansion of costly and cumbersome regulation of sectors of the economy, ranging from energy to finance to health care. When the price of doing business in America rises, it does not come as a surprise that entrepreneurs and enterprises cut back, let employees go, and delay hiring,” Romney said.
Special Election, 40th PA Senatorial District
With the of former state Sen. Jane C. Orie, R-McCandless, voters in the 40th district will vote August 7 on her replacement.
Currently, The 40th District includes all of Ross Township and West View Borough, as well as Shaler, Hampton, Marshall, Pine, Richland and West Deer townships and Franklin Park. It also extends north into Butler County and includes Cranberry Township.
Democrats have chosen . Democratic leaders in Allegheny and Butler Counties voted for Brown, who was the only candidate seeking her party’s endorsement, at a meeting June 7 at the Cranberry Public Library.
Republicans are expected to select their candidate on Saturday.
Brown is currently a nursing administrator for the Community College of Allegheny County; according to the Project Vote Smart web site. Brown also operates a small business that provides consulting services to health and educational programs. She was also a researcher at the University of California, Irvine.
She ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2010, losing to Mike Turzai.
Among the Republicans said to be considering a run are Orie’s predecessor, Melissa Hart, the party’s 2011 candidate for county controller, Bob Howard of Marshall; Republican Committee of Allegheny County treasurer Karen Shaheen of McCandless; and Butler County GOP Vice Chair Robin Redding of Cranberry, the Post Gazette reported.
No matter who wins, they may not get the chance to run again.
A revised legislative map approved moves the 40th District to the other side of the state.
In a 4-1 vote, the legislative reapportionment committee—which is tasked with redrawing legislative boundaries based on population shifts from the 2010 census—gave final approval to the revised GOP-sponsored plan.
Under the plan, Orie’s former territory—which encompassed parts of northern Allegheny County and southern Butler County—moves to Monroe and Northampton counties on the eastern half of the state to reflect growth near the New Jersey border.
While Orie’s Butler County communities will be split between the 21st Senatorial District led by Mary Jo White, R-Franklin and Sen. Elder Vogel Jr., R-New Sewickley Township, in the 47th District, the North Hills— including Pine, Richland and Ross township—will become part of the 38th represented by Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park.
PA 12th Congressional District
After a battle against fellow Democrat Rep. Jason Altmire, incumbent Rep. Mark Critz faces Republican Keith Rothfus of Edgeworth to represent Ross and West View in the new 12th congressional district.
The redrawn map of forced the primary battle by merging Altmire’s 4th district into one legislative district, the new 12th district, currently represented by Critz.
"When Mark Critz first ran for Congress in 2010, I supported him and worked for his election because I knew that his top priority would be to create jobs and fight for the middle class" Altmire said in a press release. "Through our work together in Congress since that time, I have seen firsthand Mark's continued commitment to western Pennsylvania's working families."
Rothfus ran unchallenged in the primary and takes aim at the Obama administration on his campaign web site. “The big government policies of the Obama administration have failed to produce a robust and growing economy that adds jobs and lets business flourish,” he said.
“From the threat of higher taxes, to burdensome compliance costs and mandates and unprecedented levels of government spending and deficits, President Obama and the Democrats in Congress have brought us the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression. It is time to change course.”
Altmire defeated Rothfus in the 2010 election in the 4th congressional district.
Seats in the Pennsylvania House and Senate are also up for grabs, with several key issues for the candidates to consider. Among them:
PA Property Tax Reform
In his support of the passage of legalized gambling in Pennsylvania, former Gov. Ed Rendell promised that revenue from slots parlors and gaming tables would greatly reduce or in some cases eliminate property taxes. Years later, that promise remains unfulfilled with the average savings per household at $186 in 2011, according to data from the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations.
There is new legislation, albeit in limbo right now, which would eliminate a school district’s ability to levy a property tax, replacing that funding with an increase in sales and personal income taxes statewide.
The state house finance committee tabled the on Monday, but the issue is not likely going to go away.
Sponsored by Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks, the measure would hike the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent statewide and raise the personal income tax rate from 3.07 percent to 4 percent. In Allegheny County, the sales tax would rise to 8 percent.
In addition, many goods and services currently exempt from the sales tax would be taxable under the bill, which aims to raise $10 billion dollars to replace the revenue that would be lost by the elimination of school property taxes.
Liquor Store Privatization
Gov. Tom Corbett is trying to do what two of his Republican predecessors, over a span of 30 years, could not, privatize state stores so that private retailers can sell wine and liquor.
The bill, sponsored by House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, could come up for a vote in the House by week’s end. If approved, it would go on to the Senate for consideration in the fall.
" is about divestiture. House Bill 11 is about the consumer. It is about reasonable prices and better selection and more convenience. It is about upgrading law enforcement," said Turzai when he first introduced the measure last July. "It is about moving from a public sector dinosaur into the modern 21st century."
Only two states, Pennsylvania and Utah, have complete control of all aspects of wine and spirits distribution, according to a report that the governor's budget office commissioned.
Not everyone agrees that House Bill 11 is the way to go.
"The House Liquor Control Committee passed a version of HB 11, which would leave the Liquor Control Board intact, a major turnaround from Turzai’s original proposal to completely privatize liquor sales," states a story from 90.5 FM Pittsburgh Essential Public Radio.
The union that represents state liquor store managers has lobbied against the bill; two Pennsylvania chapters of the United Food Commercial Workers, representing state store employees, also oppose the bill, the 90.5 radio story states.
"The Independent State Store Union says that the bill’s provision to allow beer distributors to begin selling wine will cause the state store system to slowly diminish," according to the story.
The ISSU also opposes the bill.