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Candidates for 40th PA Senate Race Answer Your Questions

Part 1 in a series: Patch took your questions, and those of our editors, and submitted them to the two candidates in the race to fill the unexpired term of former senator Jane Orie.

Democrat and Republican are running in the Aug 7 special election to become the next state senator in Pennsylvania's 40th district. The winner will complete the term of former , who was convicted and sentenced to prison for using her state paid staff to do campaign work.

Recently, the readers of the North Hills, Cranberry and Pine-Richland Patches were asked to submit questions to both candidates. The three editors of those Patch sites assembled those questions, and added a few of their own, for the candidates.

Below are their answers to the first 3 questions. The remaining questions and answers will be published throughout the week.

#1) Why do you think you are the right candidate for the 40th District seat?

Dr. Sharon Brown: "It is time for a new voice for the district – ethical, moderate, and principled – and a senator who will listen to the needs and issues of the citizens. As a nurse practitioner, educator and small business person, I have the background and real world experiences to create solid policies for the entire region. I will stop the “trickle down” tax increases – especially school property taxes – imposed on the region by the current Harrisburg crowd, and make sure our children have the educational resources they need to flourish in our 21st century economy."

Rep. Randy Vulakovich: "I’m for integrity in government, reasonable balanced budgets, and for creating a business friendly environment for our job creators."

#2) Do you support Gov. Corbett's budget? Why or why not?

Rep. Randy Vulakovich: "I’m a fiscal conservative who supports on time, reasonable, balanced, and sustainable budgets for the taxpayers of the Commonwealth."

Dr. Sharon Brown: "On time doesn’t mean correct. The Corbett/Vulakovich budgets have meant multiple cuts for local services, and repeated local tax increases.

We are robbing our children. The Corbett/Vulakovich budgets have devastated our kids’ education, with deeps cuts on all levels, from kindergarten through high school to state-supported universities. And make no mistake – the latest “flat” funding means we will have to cut more, since our costs go up each year even when funding doesn’t. Because of the Corbett/Vulakovich approach to the budget, nearly every school district in the region has had to increase their property tax millage rates in order to meet their budgetary commitments for the school year. 

What’s worse, we have left money on the table. With the new industry associated with Marcellus Shale drilling, Corbett/Vulakovich have refused to make these companies pay their fair share through taxes – even though they pay these taxes in every other state where they do business.

So the costs just keep coming, and the money doesn’t – so our local taxes go up. How long can the residents of the 40th district, especially those on fixed incomes, withstand this “kick the can down the road” approach to balancing the budget on the backs of our kids and seniors?"

#3) Will funding for public schools be one of your top priorities?

Dr. Sharon Brown: "Absolutely. We must support our schools. Our kids can’t compete if we keep cutting funding to their education. And if we cannot keep our excellent schools in the 40th District fully functional, we will see the young families who give our region a future pass us by. We have to stop allowing Harrisburg to destroy our communities this way."

Rep. Randy Vulakovich: "Absolutely, I support our public schools. It is the first group of line items that I address with each and every budget. I know children must be educated to secure their future as well as the future of our country."

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Tomorrow, the candidates answer questions about tuition rates at state-owned and state-related schools, such as Pitt and Penn State, and jobs.

You can chime in on what each candidate has to say in the comments box below.

Mary July 16, 2012 at 02:12 PM
I'm sorry....but I disagree with this comment: "We are robbing our children. The Corbett/Vulakovich budgets have devastated our kids’ education, with deeps cuts on all levels, from kindergarten through high school to state-supported universities. And make no mistake – the latest “flat” funding means we will have to cut more, since our costs go up each year even when funding doesn’t. Because of the Corbett/Vulakovich approach to the budget, nearly every school district in the region has had to increase their property tax millage rates in order to meet their budgetary commitments for the school year. " We are robbing our children but not because of the reason stated above. We are robbing our children by leaving them a mountain of debt, a state with the highest public school college costs in the country, a school system that is paying money towards pensions that should go towards educating our kids, taxes that keep going up every year, and kids who get out of college and can't get a job! This is how we are robbing our children!
Paul July 16, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Typical Politicians. Yes, they both believe in more funding for schools. When is enough enough? $10,000 a year per family? 20,000 a year per family? It is always easy to be a politician when you increase taxes and pay for programs with other peoples money. They never make the smart decisions and cut because it is too hard. Also, if a program is bloated and has out-of-control spending and you want to make cuts then you are a bad guy. You want to starve children, throw senior citizens out on the streets, etc. Soon 50% of our income will go to funding programs and continue to grow the government. This will be our downfall and we are well on our way.
Joan Ketterer July 17, 2012 at 03:21 AM
The words "typical politician," as used in the previous reply by Paul gave me cause to reply. I knew and respected Sargeant Randy Vulakovich, because there were a pile of kids in Shaler who grew up to be decent human beings due to the work Sargeant V. did with them when he was off duty. I remember when Millvale was flooded and Sgt. V was there with his brother moving furniture from the first floor to the second floor for people and helping get water out of homes. A fellow collector, only this one owns a collectible's store, told me that at the time here husband was terminally ill and she had no way to get items from her small warehouse to the store, Sgt. V. was in the store and heard of her plight. He said that he and his brother would be off Saturday, and they would get the merchandise. When Sgt. V. retired, I asked him why he wanted to get involved in politics. He said, "We always say we need someone who is not a 'politician' and who just wants to do the right thing. That's what I want. Since being elected, I can think of 3 bills he sponsored that were passed by the Democrats and Republicans. That's a miracle these days. My husband was a Lutheran pastor before his death. I think that pastors and their wives are blessed with somehow seeing the very best people, and Rep. Vulaskovich is not a "typical politician" he is one of the best of the best. Joan Ketterer
Mike July 18, 2012 at 12:50 PM
The difference between these two candidates is striking. Randy Vulakovich is clueless and answers entirely in talking points. He did some great things in the community, but that doesn't qualify him to to be a State Representative. His total lack of knowledge in these issues explains why Harrisburg is so screwed up. It is embarrassing that this guy is a State Rep.
Bob Howard July 18, 2012 at 08:59 PM
There must be some misunderstanding. The Corbett primary education budget is not a cut and in fact is an increase. What disappeared a year ago was the Obama stimulus money that was to be used for "one time" capital items. The first requirement for public office should be honestly. It appears that Ms. Brown should explain her statement about drasitc cuts in state funding for primary eduction.

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