WILKES-BARRE — The 22nd Senatorial District is between Democrat incumbent Marty Flynn and Republican challenger Thomas Bassett.
The candidates were asked to answer questions on key issues.
Question: What would you do to bring better, family-sustaining jobs to the region? Be specific on what industries you would target and why they would be a good fit for NEPA.
Flynn: I would invest in job training and skills programs; if we have the work force of the future we will have the jobs of the future.
We should invest in natural gas, bio tech, and alternative energies because we already have the infrastructure for those industries in place, for example our area is rich in natural gas, we have strong trades, we are rich in colleges and universities, specifically in my district we have a robust and growing medical community including the medical college.
basset: Looking to the Lehigh Valley, who transformed from steel to distribution and e-commerce, Northeast Pennsylvania has a similar situation.
I will target the marketing, distribution, and e-commerce industries because they have brought thousands of $20-per-hour jobs to that region. They do not require a college degree.
I will work with legislators to create goals, strategies, and incentives to support those industries and general growth so the entire community is equipped. That includes grants for upgraded infrastructure (which also creates more jobs), grants for regional training programs for workers, and specific measures to track growth and progress.
I believe these industries are a good fit because they have proven effective in our state, they provide a decent wage, and they do not require people to go to college to reap the benefits.
I will also fight to reverse the inflation and bad policies currently affecting all of us.
Right To Life
Question: What is your position on abortion? — and please give details on what you would support of elected. Do you believe abortion should be criminalized? And should it be classified as “murder?”
basset: I am pro life. I believe in the sanctity of life and I will always vote to preserve life, including the life of the mother.
I support reforming adoptions, funding paid maternity leave, requiring child support to begin during pregnancy, and expanding other types of aid and education for mothers and families.
Flynn: Abortion should not be criminalized, especially in the cases of life of the mother, rape and incest.
It should not be classified as murder — it is a medical procedure and an extremely difficult decision that should be made between a woman, her family, her faith, and her doctor. I trust women.
Question: Would you be willing to talk across the aisle to try to effect meaningful legislation that benefits Pennsylvanians, or would you strictly vote party line?
Flynn: I always do and I always will, its the only way to get things done.
basset: I will work with all parties and all leaders to pass meaningful, positive legislation.
Mail-in voting/drop boxes
Question: Are you for or against mail-in voting and drop-boxes?
basset: I support mail-in voting as long as we strictly enforce that ballots are signed, dated, and sealed.
I have concerns with the security of drop boxes, as do many constituents. They are not uniform across the state, which the constitution requires, and they are not part of Act 77.
Drop boxes should be discontinued.
Flynn: Access to voting should be easier, not harder.
Question: What can be done to reduce property taxes?
Flynn: My plan is to extend the homestead exemption to every Pennsylvanian’s 1st home — meaning a 100% reduction in property taxes on primary residences.
basset: Instead of assessing homes based on their value, taxes can be fixed to square footage and the size of the land.
Taxes would not increase when the value of the home rises.
However, this could negatively impact the funding of schools. Alternate sources of funding will need to be found at the state level.
We also need accountability and transparency for property taxes at the school level. Districts should not be permitted to raise taxes every year. Several local schools have managed not to raise taxes for multiple years, while others seek the maximum.
I will consider it a priority to explore alternatives to property taxes entirely. I would like to implement other programs such as a reduction or phase out for the retired and disabled.
Question: Do you or would you accept per diem payments?
basset: I am committed to ethical, transparent spending and I will only accept them if and when I need to.
I will voluntarily keep receipts and only take what is needed as a reimbursement.
I will advocate for reform where receipts are required for work related reimbursements only.
Flynn: I am reimbursed for gas, food, and lodging as set but the federal government.
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.