Op-Ed: Being a Representative Means Knowing the Issues…Here and In Harrisburg
An Op-Ed from Rep. Justin Simmons (R-131)
On October 10th, I received the endorsement of The Express-Times in my re-election campaign for State Representative. I am proud to have received this endorsement and for the primary reasons they chose to support me. In their words: "Based on his stronger grasp of the issues and determination to protect taxpayers, The Express-Times editorial board endorses Republican Justin Simmons."
After nearly two years of representing the people of the 131st District, I can say without hesitation that having a strong grasp of the issues is imperative to doing the job well. Not just the big issues being debated in Harrisburg, but the issues that affect our local communities – issues that will never see the light of day in the state capital unless I bring them to the forefront.
I grew up in our community and graduated from Southern Lehigh. My wife and I look forward to raising our own children here. I have given my time and energy to local charities and civic organizations. What does this mean in terms of being a Representative? It means I understand that SOCIAL SECURITY and MEDICARE are federal issues and are not decided at the state level. I also have an understanding of what issues our local communities face such as the Lower Milford Quarry and the rising crime rate in Allentown – and can fight for those issues in Harrisburg.
I believe knowledge of the issues should be one of the first things that the people of our area demand and deserve in their State Representative. I assumed it was something that anyone running for office would realize – and would take the time to adequately research. That's why I was so amazed by Kevin Deely’s commercials and mail pieces saying I am going to cut Social Security and Medicare (which I would like to point out again are federal issues not state issues) and during WFMZ's Business Matters candidate debate when my opponent admitted that he was "currently uninformed on that issue" when asked for his position on the Lower Milford Quarry.
I understand that no candidate running for office can be discerning on every issue. I admit that there was more to learn upon arriving in Harrisburg even though I had spent many months studying in preparation for my legislative duties. With that being said, I strongly believe that running for office without having knowledge about one of the biggest issues facing our local community over the past seven years is inexcusable.
Just as important as knowing the issues, is being willing to focus on all of them…not just one. Unfortunately, this is also where my opponent falls short. As many know, Mr. Deely is a former teachers union president who led the fight for a massive contract that caused property taxes to rise and resulted in a massive budget deficit in the Easton area school district. Running for Representative, he has focused almost entirely on issues espoused by that union – issues that will cost Pennsylvania taxpayers even more.
The Express-Times noticed this single focus as well, calling Mr. Deely, "a newcomer who is spending most of his energy on one subject" and saying, "his argument that he could be a strong advocate for all taxpayers – not just teachers – isn't very convincing."
I have no problem with anyone disagreeing on the issues, and neither should any other citizen; that is the basis of our representative democracy. However, not knowing the issues that are so vital to our communities should be of great concern to every citizen.