New Castle News

November 3, 2012

Decision 2012: Radical strategic ploys in race for 3rd Congressional seat

John K. Manna
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — They are running for the same seat in Tuesday’s election, but emphasizing different issues in their respective campaigns.

That could be said of any race for public office, but the two major candidates in the 3rd Congressional District are employing what could be considered radically different strategies.

Missa Eaton, a Democrat, discusses how her views differ from those of her opponent, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly.

“I’m running because very little was being done to help our area,” said Eaton, who most recently served eight years as assistant professor of psychology at Penn State Shenango.

“Mr. Kelly and I have fundamental differences.”

The Republican congressman, on the other hand, seldom refers to her or independent candidate Steven Porter. Instead, his focus is generally on what he considers the failed policies of President Obama.

Through redistricting, Lawrence County was split, placing most of it in the 3rd District. The remainder of the county was placed in the 12th District.

The 3rd District covers New Castle, the townships of Hickory, Mahoning, Neshannock, North Beaver, Plain Grove, Pulaski, Scott, Shenango, Slippery Rock, Taylor, Union, Washington and Wilmington and the boroughs of Bessemer, New Wilmington, SNPJ, South New Castle and Volant.

The district also covers all of Armstrong, Butler, Mercer and Crawford counties and parts of Clarion and Erie counties.

Kelly, 64, of Butler is seeking his second term, having defeated incumbent Kathy Dahlkemper in 2010.

Eaton, 49, said Kelly would like to get rid of the Department of Education and he favors granting tax advantages to parents who send their children to private schools. It would mean others would be subsidizing those schools, she said.

She also opposes treating Social Security “as a savings account” and moving it to Wall Street.

When asked about his positions on both, a spokesman, Brad Moore, replied: “Mike has been very clear, based on both his time on a school board and his first term in Congress, he believes the federal government’s involvement in education policy should be minimal beyond funding. Education policy is best determined by parents and local school boards, not bureaucrats in Washington.”

On Social Security, he said Kelly does not support raising the retirement age, but believes “we should be looking at adjustments to phase out higher income households” that don’t need Social Security.

Eaton said she opposes a voucher system for Medicare and favors lifting the cap on Social Security for individuals, but not for employers. Currently, individuals are taxed up to $110,100 on earnings. Any income above that is not taxed for Social Security.

She said she holds a different position from Kelly on the role of the federal government.

“I think government has a role to play. I think government has a support role in helping us solve our own problems.”

Eaton criticized Kelly for voting against bringing back federal money — known as earmarks — to the district.

She noted that former U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart, a Republican, believed there was a role for Washington when she worked to obtain interstate designation for Route 60, which is now Interstate 376.

She opposes repealing the Affordable Care Act, referred to as Obamacare. Kelly has voted to repeal the law.

Eaton wants the district to be part of cutting edge technology in manufacturing, particularly with the National Additive Manufacturing Institute in Youngstown. It is one of 15 institutes in the country that would serve as regional hubs of manufacturing to help companies become more competitive and encourage investment in the United States.

“We don’t want it to stop at the border,” Eaton said.

Kelly, a car dealership owner, blames heavy regulation and taxes for stifling economic growth in the country.

With “heavily regulated businesses and taxes, you raise the price,” he said. “You won’t be able to compete in the world.”

The United States, he said, has the highest tax rate in the industrialized world.

“The cost of doing business is too great. Companies are moving to Third World countries.”

“This country is headed in a trajectory that’s not sustainable. It’s all poor leadership.”

Kelly said the country is “awash in natural resources,” adding, “We can grow our own food, yet we pay people not to grow food. What this country lacks is a common sense approach.”

The country has a couple centuries worth of coal and natural gas, Kelly said. The nation should focus on those sources at the present time rather than renewable sources of energy.

While he has voted to repeal Obamacare, Kelly said, “I’m in favor of getting people to the table and looking at it.”

On reducing the deficit, Kelly said, “We have to bring our spending down gradually.”

Kelly said the 2010 election was a rejection of what Obama did the previous two years and criticized the president for not being able to work with both sides of the aisle. “The president has to be able to appeal to both parties.”