Candidates for governor meet voters
March 13--LEWISBURG -- Two of the three Republican gubernatorial candidates took on weighty subjects ranging from school security to health care and pension reform at Monday night's Susquehanna Valley Conservatives meeting, held at the the Best Western-Country Cupboard.
More than 180 people came out on a snowy night to meet and question Laura Ellsworth and Paul Mango, both self-professed conservatives from western Pennsylvania.
Both Mango and Ellsworth have not released their previous tax returns, and before the meeting began Ellsworth said she understood why people wanted to know about who a candidate might have had dealings with.
"I do think this question of releasing one's return is a barrier to some people running for office," she said. "I hope we can find an accommodation that satisfies people who are asking about my returns."
Mango said he would comply with the letter of the law and release what the government "requires me to release."
This was not a debate, and most of the attacks were directed at Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, whom both Mango and Ellsworth accused of being "ultra liberal" and lacking leadership.
Mango, a West Point graduate and businessman, said that in his travels as a candidate, "Pennsylvanians seem economically insecure" and that his campaign was about "where we are headed, not where we have been."
Ellsworth is a successful lawyer and she said her entire career is based on "getting things done, now, agressively attacking problems."
About school security, both candidates agreed that children must be protected at all costs.
"I can't get into my work building, or to a ball game without passing security checks," she said. "School security should be at least as tight."
Mango said schools should decide the level of security they required.
As far as the debate about guns, he said the problem in Florida, was not the gun, but the "disturbed individual who was able to get the gun. Mentally unstable persons should not be able to get weapons." He said there should be increased emphasis on rooting out those who are disturbed.
The pension problem has to be addressed. Mango and Ellsworth agreed that those close to retirement should get their benefits, but that new hires would have to take less in terms of benefits. "We have to decrease the size of government," he said.
Mango and Ellsworth said Wolf lacked the kind of leadership that could solve the pension problem.
They also hit Wolf on his statements about healthcare, saying in tandem that they thought Affordable Care Act had been a disaster.
"Choice is the answer, not mandates," both said.
Notable by his absense was Scott Wagner, the third announced Republican candidate.
Wagner declined repeated invitations by the SVC to appear at the meeting with Mango and Ellsworth.
On Monday he was in Harrisburg, joining pro-life advocates attending a rally at the Pennsylvania Capitol in support of legislation amending the Abortion Control Act.
The Senate version of the act would prohibit the abortion of any child solely due to a diagnosis of possible Down syndrome.
"I'm disappointed he chose not to come here tonight," Mango said, a sentiment repeated a few times during the 90-minute forum by SVC moderator Paul Hartman.
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