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NORTHEAST, PA — Democratic challengers are taking on established Republican candidates in Northeast Pennsylvania this year to try to win seats in the House of Representatives in Harrisburg.
111th Legislative District
In the 111th District, which includes Honesdale and in the western part of the district Montrose in Susquehanna County, incumbent Republican Jonathan Fritz is running for his second term. He has previously also served as a Wayne County Commissioner and the mayor of the Borough of Honesdale.
Fritz has been active in urging the Delaware River Basin Commission to end its ban on hydraulic fracturing in the Upper Delaware Basin. He co-hosted a hearing on the subject before the Republican Policy Committee in Waymart. In a January post on his Facebook page, Fritz referenced an event with the Northern Wayne Property Owners Association and the group Upper Delaware River Basin Citizens. He wrote, “I am pleased to see our hard-working, tax-paying landowners unite to battle the special interests and extremist groups that have essentially robbed us of our property rights.”
Democrat Rebecca Kinney is challenging Fritz in this election. For nearly 30 years, she was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. One of the issues most important to her is raising the minimum wage, which in Pennsylvania is $7.35 an hour. In a video post on her Facebook page, she asks the audience, “Can anyone live on $7.25 an hour?”
Another post says she deliberately sought a union job as her father had done because it provided everyone in the family with healthcare, and the family could live on a single income. She writes, “It seems we live in times where the working class is being attacked on all fronts. Teachers, waitresses, nurses, truck drivers, etc. Corporate America would have us believe that we don’t deserve a decent wage and benefits, and too many politicians seem to agree.”
139 Legislative District
Republican Mike Peifer is running for reelection in the 130th, District, where he has served as a member of the house since 2007. The district includes Hawley, Matamoras and other municipalities in Wayne and Pike counties.
Before being elected to the House, he served as treasurer for Pike County and opened his own accounting firm in Greentown.
He sends a weekly email to constituents advising them of such things as grant opportunities, veterans’ news, the progress of legislation at the state level and other updates. He also keeps constituents abreast of news about tourism and outdoor news, which are important in rural counties.
Peifer has not faced an opponent in the last four election cycles.
This year he is being challenged by Orlando Marrero, a Hawley businessman who calls himself a conservative Democrat. Marrero says on his website, “I am trying to start the Next American Revolution. This time WE the PEOPLE take back our democracy. My Declaration of War against the status quo is called the ‘Oath of Higher Service.’ It includes everything we want from our candidates and will return real democracy to America by avoiding partisan politics...
“I am doing this because it is the only way we can save ourselves. The country is under the control of the rich, the privileged, the powerful, the corporations and the special interests,” his post continues. “These five groups control the politicians, and when combined with gerrymandering and obscene amounts of money spent influencing our politics, it leads to gridlock and failed government. If we wait for those in power or the politicians to fix the problem, we’re all in trouble.”
189th Legislative District
Republican Rosemary Brown has been serving the 189th Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House since 2011. The 189th District includes the Delaware Water Gap and municipalities in Pike and Monroe counties.
In the “issues” section of her campaign website, Brown says she “supported the statewide Property Tax Relief referendum to help make it easier for local governments to reduce or eliminate property taxes for primary residents; introduced legislation that would eliminate school property taxes for primary homeowners and replace them with a system that is more fair and protects education funding; passed a new bipartisan education funding formula that makes sure our local, growing school districts get more from Harrisburg; passed the first law in 20 years to give local residents a stronger voice in controlling property taxes; provided more state funding for education than ever before to help relieve the burden from local property taxpayers; passed public pension reform that will save billions of dollars for property taxpayers while still respecting our teachers, and keeping our promise to current teachers and retirees.”
Adam Rodriguez, who calls himself a New Deal Democrat, is challenging Brown for her seat. He identifies himself as a graphic artist working in the retail sector.
In the “Issues” section of his website, Rodriguez says he would “enact a realistic severance tax,” on gas from the Marcellus Shale. He also says he would “Fix the Basic Education Funding Formula,” so education was more fair.
Rodriguez supports raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, but it would be phased in over three years, and he would act to protect the rights of workers to form union and collective bargaining units.
In the realm of healthcare, Rodriguez says he supports a Medicare-for-All system, but with the ability of people to retain private insurance should they choose to do so.