The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Politics

February 1, 2008

Longtime lawyer 3rd Democrat to join race in 71st

As one of three Democrats running to represent the state House’s 71st District, Bryan Barbin is ready for a battle.

“I’m going to stand up for Johnstown,” the Johnstown lawyer said.

“And at the end, we’ll see who’s standing.”

Barbin on Wednesday announced his candidacy for the seat held by Democratic state Rep. Ed Wojnaroski, who is not seeking re-election.

Tom Chernisky of Geistown and William D. Stasko of Westmont also have entered the race.

No Republicans have announced yet.

During a lunchtime gathering, Barbin touted his quarter-century of experience in the legal field.

In the public sector, that includes a clerkship for the state Supreme Court’s chief justice and more than six years of work in the state Attorney General’s Office.

Barbin, 50, is a partner in the downtown Johnstown law firm of Gleason, McQuillan, Barbin and Markovitz.

He previously founded and managed a law firm in Harrisburg, and he said that his expertise with issues such as taxes and insurance makes him a good fit for a legislative job.

“I know how to get problems resolved with the state,” Barbin said.

The Westmont resident and father of four also took pains to detail his roots in the Johnstown area, saying he represents the fourth generation of lawyers practicing here.

If elected, Barbin said he would accept no increases in legislative pay or pension benefits.

His said his priorities would include education, economic development and tax reform.

“I will work to lower taxes for all families that continue to struggle to make ends meet,” Barbin said.

Among those attending Barbin’s announcement was Johnstown Mayor Tom Trigona, who will be a campaign co-chairman.

Barbin’s press conference took place in the former waiting room of Johnstown’s train station.

Though the high-ceilinged chamber is an architectural marvel, it now is rarely used, and supporters shivered in the chill.

Barbin noted that the Amtrak station at one time bustled with activity.

“This building should serve as a landmark for the whole community to say, ‘We can do better,’ ” he said.

Barbin says he is optimistic about his hometown. The future is simply a matter of “putting the pieces together,” he said.

“There’s no place in this whole commonwealth that is better to raise a family than right here,” Barbin said.

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