The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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November 9, 2013

JIM SIEHL | Political David takes on giant

— A modern David and Goliath story is unfolding as little known Art Halvorson challenges the Shuster dynasty for a seat in the U. S. House of Representatives.

Until a few weeks ago, I had not met the candidate nor had I even heard of him. Somehow I missed his announcement.  

Taking on 40 years of a father-son congressional entrenchment is serious stuff, something the candidate did not relish. But after searching unsuccessfully for someone he could support to do the job, he elected to invest his own time and money.  

 “I already have two careers and did not want a third,” was the way Halvorson put it during a small Sunday afternoon gathering hosted by his good friend, Dr. David Crandall, and Mrs. Crandall at their elegant Glade Pike, Manns Choice area home.

Halvorson is intensely passionate in his opposition to the direction this country is heading, with the ever-increasing national debt and expanding, big-government policies of the Obama administration.

Responding to concerns over the moral decay of the country, the 58-year-old former New Englander described today’s sinful lifestyle as worse than the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.  

“You know what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah,” he said, and added that only prayer and a change in the hearts of the people can avoid a similar fate.

Halvorson said he is offering voters in next year’s May Republican primary a choice between career politician Bill Shuster and someone who will lead efforts to:

Defend the constitution.

Balance the federal budget.

Publish a national energy independence plan.

Secure the borders and enforce existing laws.

Defund Obamacare.

Fight for every child’s right to life.

 Were he to be nominated and then elected to replace Shuster, Halvorson said he would not serve in the House more than three two-year terms, leaving the door open to possibly running for the Senate.

To those like me who found no reason to question Shuster as anything but a solid conservative, Halvorson says the incumbent votes as he must in a highly Republican district “but there is no voice.” Halvorson noted that Shuster had voted with the Democrats to end the recent partial government shutdown and supports a bill that would tax drivers based on miles driven over a year.

Sitting beside a fireplace, Halvorson went on to say he believes political cronyism is the risk of endlessly returning career politicians to office.

He talked about the House being split with career politicians on both sides of the aisle, creating a ruling establishment that is controlled by the political parties.

A solid supporter of the National Rifle Association and a competitive runner into his early 40s, Halvorson looks the part of someone who enjoys the outdoors. He is ruggedly handsome, lean and tall with an engaging smile and a ready hand to meet people.  ji

He is intelligent and an eloquent conversationalist. Halvorson grew up in Rhode Island and served 29 years as a Coast Guard search and rescue pilot.  

His second career as a small-business-owner provides insight into his drive to defend the free market.

Halvorson’s background includes a period as national president of the Officer’s Christian Fellowship, which owns and operates a retreat center near Manns Choice.  It was his visits to the center that influenced a decision to settle in beautiful Bedford County and adopt a less-demanding life as a homestead farmer.

He and his wife, Paula, recently marked their 35th wedding anniversary. The couple are home-schooling parents of six children and have six grandchildren.

On his wedding anniversary, the candidate could be seen “working the floor” in the Bedford High School cafeteria at the Bedford Kiwanis Club’s annual pork and sauerkraut fundraising dinner.  

I took the occasion to pin down Jim Wehling, Bedford councilman. I asked Jim what he thought of Halvorson’s chances?

“Not very good,” Wehling replied, laughing and flashing his familiar smile.

The question could be directed to most any person at this point and time and receive the same answer.

But then again, I wonder how many gave David much of a shot when he took his slingshot and headed to do battle with the Biblical giant?

Jim Siehl of Schellsburg, formerly of Richland Township, retired in 1991 after 44 years as a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat.

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