The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

March 16, 2014

Well-deserved retirement | We wish Haluska success with future plans

JOHNSTOWN — Cambria County is losing an experienced voice in state politics.

Gary Haluska, 63, D-Patton, has decided to vacate his seat in the House of Representatives rather than face a fellow incumbent in a runoff.

Haluska blames the reapportionment of his district for his decision. His 73rd district has been redrawn, placing Patton, his hometown, into the 72nd district, represented by colleague Frank Burns, D-East Taylor.

“It’s one of those deals where I’m going on 20 years running back and forth to Harrisburg,” Haluska told our Kathy Mellott. “My wife, Amy, is happy.”

Haluska kept up a family tradition of serving others. He was elected to his first term in 1994. His father, the late Edward “Doc” Haluska, held the 73rd district seat since 1980. And Edward Haluska followed the tradition of his brother, John, who served as a state senator from the mid-1930s to early 1960s.

“Their name is synonymous with representing that area,” said Cambria County Democratic Chairman Chairman Heath Long.

Throughout his long and distinguished career, he followed party lines on many issues. But to his credit, he also broke ranks when he thought his party was following the wrong path.

While in Harrisburg, he worked with two Democratic governors – Robert P. Casey and Ed Rendell – and three Republicans – Tom Ridge, Mark Schweiker and Tom Corbett.

As a freshman legislator, his first appointment was to a statewide forestry task force that was charged with finding ways to involve the forestry industry in secondary industries, such as furniture making. That could have been because Haluska earned an associate degree in forestry from Williamsport Area Community College in 1970.

He held seats on the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee and Tourism and Recreational Development Committee, lending his voice to the state’s top two industries.

He also was a member of the Transportation Committee and the Game and Fisheries Committee.

He is an avid sportsman and has been a strong advocate for issues involving sportsmen. As chairman of the Game and Fisheries Committee, he steps away from a hot-button topic among hunters and landowners – whether to allow Sunday hunting in the Keystone State.

He is chairman of the Rock Run Recreation Area, a 6,000-acre, all-terrain vehicle park in his hometown.

One of the many state caucuses he served was the volunteer firemen’s, perhaps because of his

30-year affiliation with the Patton Volunteer Fire Company.

“We’re certainly going to miss him,” said state Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton County. “He is a real advocate for working families and when he has a point to make, he makes it.”

We wish Haluska well in his future endeavors and we thank him for his many years of faithful service to residents of the 73rd district.

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