The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

December 16, 2012

Big change for Critz

JOHNSTOWN — Mark Critz has spent a lot of time with his wife and children over the past few weeks.

Many mornings, he has watched his twins, Sadie and Joe, leave for Greater Johnstown Middle School, and then, at night, shared dinner with them and his wife, Nancy, a speech pathologist for the school district.

Gone are the days when what seemed like an endless series of political meetings and campaign events filled the congressman’s schedule.

His daily routine started changing on Nov. 6, when Critz lost a re-election bid against Republican Keith Rothfus, a lawyer from Allegheny County.

Since then, his work demands have greatly decreased, although he has traveled to Washington, D.C. to participate in the current lame-duck session.

Much of his newfound free time has been spent at home in the Moxham section of Johnstown.

“I love seeing my family,” said Critz.

Still, getting ready for his tenure in the U.S. House to end on Jan. 3 has taken some adjustment.

“I’m so used to being busy that I like stalk around my house now when I don’t have something to do, (thinking) I should be doing something, I should be accomplishing something, I should be meeting people. I don’t do that now. I don’t know if I like it or if I don’t,” he said.

Critz also has spent a lot of time closing his eight offices within the district and getting ready to say goodbye to his 17 staff members.

“The last month has been tough,” admitted the Democratic representative. “It’s like closing a business, because we’ve got to shut all the offices down, we’ve got to pack everything up. Everyone’s getting laid off. It’s been a real challenging time emotionally because we’re all one family.

“This is something that we got into all sort of together for this ride. I look back at what we’ve been able to do over the last couple of years, and I’m pretty proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

Critz entered Congress after winning a special election in May 2010 to replace his mentor, the late Rep. John Murtha.

He survived a Republican surge in that year’s general election to hold onto the seat. Then, earlier this year, Critz defeated Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, in a rare member-versus-member primary after their residences were drawn into the same district.

Rothfus beat Critz unofficially by 3.4 percentage points in a district where the candidate atop the Democratic ticket, President Barack Obama, was unpopular. Critz was considered vulnerable and targeted heavily by outside groups.

“If I had known at the beginning of this year that they were going to spend $7 million or

$8 million against me, that they were going to draw a district that was 70 percent new, and that the national political (atmosphere) was going to be so toxic, I would have taken a deep breath, let me tell you,” Critz said. “We projected that Obama was going to lose our district by 13 points. He lost by 17. That’s my margin right there. He loses by 13, I win, but the ‘anti’ vote was so large.”

Throughout his time in office, Critz did not seek national attention. He instead focused on local economic issues and performing day-to-day tasks, such as helping high school students apply to military academies, making sure a 110-year-old widow from Cambria County received her husband’s military benefits and attempting to get Route 219 expanded.

“During probably one of the worst times in American economic history, we were able to maintain,” Critz said. “We maintained the Showcase for Commerce, we maintained the defense industry, we continued to work on infrastructure projects for the future. I fought hard and long to make sure that the coal industry remained viable in western Pennsylvania. I was co-chair of the Marcellus Shale Caucus because I see the economic opportunities there. I wanted to play an active role.”

Critz’s loss means there will not be a Johnstown resident in the House for the first time since Rep. John Saylor took office in 1949.

“I’m not going to tell you that I’m not fearful; I am fearful,” he said. “One reason is having worked for Mr. Murtha. When you get into that Pittsburgh-Allegheny region, you can get sucked in pretty easy because there are so many things going on there that the outer rim gets sort of forgotten. That’s my concern. ... My hope is that the folks from this area – and me working with them in one way, shape or form – can make sure that our needs are met, that we are taken care of, that we’re not forgotten.”

His future plans are uncertain. A continued career in politics remains an option.

“I see the good that can be done through this elected office,” he said. “So, now that I’ve been here, I won’t rule out running again.”

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • LCB Wine1a Does state know when to say when?

    Booze sales on Sunday have proven so popular the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is breaking a state law limiting how many stores the system can operate on the first day of the week.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • mccord Gubernatorial hopeful wins mayor’s support

    Gubernatorial candidate Rob McCord has received an endorsement from Johnstown’s highest-ranking elected official.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Home is Where The Tribune-Democrat is Delivered!

    Here are the names of the 10 entrants that were chosen today-April 22, 2014.  If you see your name, call the Circulation Department at 814-532-5000 (#1) or 1-866-307-0905 to verify your information.

    April 22, 2014

  • reading night ‘Story Laboratory’ stirs kids’ interest in reading, science

    Mad scientists and Dr. Seuss characters were the stars Thursday as Conemaugh Township Area children helped concoct mysterious potions that bend the laws of physics and learned how french fries can drive you to work.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Republicans tout ‘right’ credentials

    All three Republican Party candidates in Pennsylvania’s 9th Congressional District race attempted to distinguish themselves as the person conservative enough to represent the state’s most conservative district in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday night.

    April 24, 2014

  • elder abuse 1 Calling attention to elder abuse

    As far as states with the oldest populations go, Pennsylvania hovers near the top, depending on which statistical report you read. Along with an ever-growing elderly demographic comes more instances of seniors being abused or cheated out of money.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cambria adds security to thwart copper thefts

    Would-be copper thieves, be warned: Anyone trying to steal copper wiring from any of the 17 towers that make up Cambria County’s 911 communications system will be caught on camera.

    April 24, 2014

  • Commissioners praise response to bomb threat

    Two days after a bomb threat closed the Cambria County Courthouse for half a day, officials handed out accolades to those who pulled off an efficient search and quick apprehension of the alleged perpetrator.

    April 24, 2014

  • Black fly program to target river corridor

    The Cambria County commissioners Thursday entered into an agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that opens the door for the state to provide black fly suppression spraying.

    April 24, 2014

  • Inmate faces sex charges

    An Altoona man was charged with rape after authorities accused him of sexually assaulting another man while both were inmates at the Cambria County Prison.

    April 24, 2014


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads