The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Politics

February 1, 2008

Conservative businessman seeks Bastian’s House seat

SOMERSET — An outspoken Lincoln Township businessman is seeking the Republican nomination to replace retiring state Rep. Bob Bastian, R-Somerset, in the 69th Legislative District.

Mike Brendle, owner of Buffer Creek Sporting Clays and a former poultry farmer, already is advocating dramatic changes, including replacing teachers’ unions with a county-by-county pay scale.

“I’m going to tell you what I think, right or wrong,” said Brendle, 55, of Sipesville.

Brendle, a staunch conservative, has run unsuccessfully three times for Somerset County Commissioner, losing twice in the primary and once in the general election.

He wants to bring more family-sustaining jobs to the county, make the state more business friendly, promote growth while maintaining the area’s scenic beauty, reform property taxes and spearhead an increased fight against drugs.

“I don’t just advocate change,” he said. “I’ll take my plan to Harrisburg.”

Among his more controversial proposals is eliminating teachers’ unions by instituting a pay scale based on the average annual wages in each county.

“We do not need teachers fighting for their pay, and we do not need school boards fighting for pay,” he said. “It’s going to take somebody like me to be outspoken enough to bring it to the forefront.”

Brendle operated Brendle Farms Inc., a 700-acre grain and poultry farm, from 1996 to 2007. He still grows some crops on the property.

He and his wife, Harriet, have operated Buffer Creek Sporting Clays, a recreational shooting facility in Lincoln Township, since 2004.

Brendle, a graduate of Somerset Area High School and the Florida Institute of Technology, is a past board member of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce and a life member of the National Rifle Association. He previously was vice chairman of the county’s Republican Party.

He has been a member of the state Department of Environmental Protection’s agricultural advisory board since its inception in 1993. He won the Governor’s Energy Conservation Award in 1990 for using waste from chickens to produce electricity.

“My No. 1 issue is bringing family-sustaining jobs to the area,” he said.

Ken Warnick, 64, of Meyersdale, dir-ector of student services at Allegheny College of Maryland, has announced he will run for the Democratic nomination.

The 69th District covers the southern two-thirds of Somerset County and part of western Bedford County.

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