The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


October 24, 2008

Murtha earned another term

Longtime congressman gives back to region

For residents of the12th Congressional District – and for the nation – clearly the best choice is incumbent Democrat John Murtha over Republican challenger William Russell.

The strikes against Russell are many:

• He is virtually a one-issue candidate, repeatedly attacking Murtha on his comments concerning Marines in Haditha, Iraq.

• He is a modern carpetbagger, having moved to Johnstown just to run against Murtha with no prior ties to the community, the region or the 12th district.

• When he has addressed other issues, Russell has urged voters in our region to support his plan to do away with federal funding that has brought jobs to Johnstown and the district, without a substantive plan for replacing them or adding more jobs.

We agree with Russell’s assertion that the federal earmark program should be opened up to greater scrutiny. But we also recognize that earmarks account for less than 1 percent of federal spending.

We have a problem with his labeling of Concurrent Technologies Corp. and other agencies as “nonprofit companies not benefiting the local economy.”

CTC alone employs thousands of people, all of whom own or rent homes in the region, shop in local stores and buy local goods and services. Much the same can be said of DRS Laurel Technologies, Kuchera Industries and even the always controversial National Drug Intelligence Center.

For some politicians, “experience” simply means too many years drawing a comfortable salary and nice benefits on taxpayer dollars without giving much back.

That is not the case with Murtha, who has provided leadership and sparked the development of new programs in key areas, especially in the health-care arena:

• He helped increase funding for Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where service personnel returning from combat are treated for their injuries.

• He has increased awareness and helped fund programs aimed at two of our region’s deadliest afflictions: Breast cancer and diabetes.

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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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