Saturday, January 23, 2010

PA 112th Distrct Candidates

I've been reading a lot on-line about the upcoming primary election, in particular for the seat currently held by Ken Smith for the 112th District. Since this is my district, I'm thinking that I actually should spend some quality time pondering all of this.

Here's what I'm thinking so far...

Ken Smith, the incumbent, lost any and every chance of me ever voting for him via his poorly plotted political ploy of opposing the proposed Methadone clinic in Dunmore. I've done more than my share of ranting against that in prior blogs, so no sense re-hashing the past and raising my blood pressure on a Saturday morning. Suffice to say I question the timing of Mr Smith's actions on the clinic, I question his personal motives, and I question the real intent of his proposed legislation. Mr Smith wants us to believe that a "for profit" medical care is somehow evil. If that's his true stand, then I'll expect to see him bright and early on Monday morning picketing in front of the CIGNA building on Montage Mountain.

Kevin Haggerty, a challenger, has baggage, but not the baggage that others may think. Personally I don't care about his past drinking and bad check problems. We all do make mistakes, and what counts is not that this things happen but rather how a life is changed for the better having made the mistake. No, for me the baggage is that Mr Haggerty works for the county government. To be straight up, I simply question how most folks got their jobs working for the county. Now I believe that Mr Haggerty has worked for the county for a few years, but when he was hired, was the open position advertised? How many applicants were there? I strongly distrust the personnel system in both the city and the county governments; both seemed more designed as job factories for friends and relatives rather than places where the best and brightest desire to work. Look, if I'm wrong and Mr Haggerty got his position without the benefit of any connections and via an open, competitive interview process then I'll gladly retract what I've just written. It's just that the needle of the Burden of Proof meter in NEPA has moved towards "government must prove it is ethical", as opposed to "government is ethical unless we have proof to the contrary".

Bob Lesh was a good friend of my late father-in-law (one of the greatest men I've ever had the privilege to know), Bob Kirchner. As such, I had the opportunity to meet Mr Lesh a few times over the years. This should be a lay-up then in terms of support, right? Well that's the problem: it's not, and here's why...

School Board Service - I think Mr Lesh has done an adequate job as School Director...not spectacular, not an abysmal failure...but adequate. I do realize that making real change on something like a school board is difficult, as there are countless conflicting constituencies at play at any given time. On the plus side, I do believe that the Scranton School District does provide a quality education and has some of the best educational facilities in the area (Scranton High School is probably one of the best secondary education facilities in Pennsylvania). On the minus side, the District is heavily bloated with administrative personnel. How bloated? So bloated that they don't want to even provide the public with an organization chart, despite requests by folks such as myself (I actually spoke at a meeting a few weeks ago specifically to ask for one). So for his work in the District, I can't say one way or another that it benefits his candidacy.

Work Experience - Mr Lesh's work experience doesn't add anything to his ability to serve in the legislature. It simply doesn't. Well maybe only if the subject of public transportation comes up. I just can't see this being of much help to Mr Lesh.

Education - A real minus against Mr Lesh. I'm not an educational snob, but the fact that Mr Lesh dropped out of high school doesn't send a very good signal. The fact that he ended up receiving his G.E.D. helps somewhat, but what would help even more would be some evidence that he has at least pursued some aspect of lifetime learning. Why? I want the people who make decisions...be they at the county administrative building or in Harrisburg...to be smart, well-read, and capable of using logic and reasoning to solve problems. A solid education helps you do those things well.

Other Background - It's a real plus (at least in my book) that Mr Lesh served his country in the United States Marine Corps. The Marines teach discipline, focus, hard work and dedication to duty...all things that we expect in public servants (but seldom see)


Given that I will vote for one of these candidates, it will boil down to either Mr Haggerty or Mr Lesh. I'm hoping that as the campaign progresses, I'll learn enough to make my vote one of conscious affirmation for the best candidate, as opposed to simply picking the "least worst" of those running.

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