Although we suspect Tim Houser lacks name recognition outside the Ebensburg area, his business background, a voter-attractive platform and a warm personality make him a viable alternative for anyone looking to end John Wozniak’s 32-year run in the Pennsylvania Legislature.
Wozniak, on the other hand, offers experience – 16 years in the state House and now 16 years in the state Senate. With his time, he has gained a keen knowledge of state government and often finds himself in a leadership or advisory role, even called upon by governors. And nobody can question his work habits. He has always been very visible and approachable to his constituents, no doubt a key factor in his political success.
The matchup of these two worthy candidates has been intriguing. Poll-goers will have a tough choice to make in the 35th Senatorial District race.
The veteran Wozniak said the top issues in Harrisburg have remained constant over the past several years: Stimulate the economy, create jobs, keep public education strong and put together a transportation package to fix the state’s deteriorated highways and bridges.
“The governor made a promise of no tax cuts. There is a limit to the amount of budget cuts we can make; we might already be there,” Wozniak said in referring to the estimated $3.5 billion needed annually to address transportation needs. And the state fuel tax, he noted, isn’t the answer. “The price of fuel makes people drive less and drive better, and so they’re using less ... We are falling way behind because of a lack of revenues,” Wozniak warned, adding that it was up to the governor to take the lead on a transportation plan.
His opponent, although calling for a hold or reduction in property taxes, didn’t rule out supporting a gasoline tax boost if all other possibilities failed to bring in the needed repair dollars.
Houser has spent 30 years as a funeral director. That business, he says, has offered him the opportunity to learn firsthand the importance of advocating for senior rights in Pennsylvania.
He said, in addition to lowering property and small-business taxes, he would work hard to enact a fairer way of funding school systems.
He proposes an alternative to “99-plus weeks of unemployment benefits,” saying, “I would consider a bonus program to encourage a job seeker to take the leap into a new job and provide the safety net to do so, providing substantial savings to taxpayers and employers.”
He also said he would not take a taxpayer-paid car and would not support pay raises or increased perks for legislators.
Wozniak points out he hasn’t accepted a state vehicle, has one of the smaller staffs in the Senate and has returned “tens of thousands” from his allowable expense account.
He agrees that the way Pennsylvania funds its schools should be changed.
“I have been harping for a number of years that we need to take a serious look at our basic education formula,” Wozniak said. “I have had a number of bills dealing with how to make school districts more effective.”
The Westmont Democrat said one of his biggest challenges has been an increased work load with an expanded district. He now serves all of Cambria County; Conemaugh Township and Benson, Windber and Paint boroughs in Somerset County; all of Clinton County; and parts of Centre and Clearfield counties.
We believe he has done an admirable job of covering a large area. His engine always seems to be running and, to this point, he apparently hasn’t lost his zeal for serving people.
We haven’t always endorsed Wozniak through his many elections over 32 years in public office.
We have, however, witnessed his maturity as a legislator, his growing knowledge of the job and his ability and willingness to address issues important to his district and his constituents.
We urge you to give Sen. John Wozniak another term in office.