Dan LaVallee says people in the 3rd Congressional District are ready for new leadership.
People are “tired of congressmen raising taxes on middle class families and cutting taxes for the wealthiest,” he said.
LaVallee, a Democrat, specifically refers to U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly as one of those congressmen.
Not surprisingly, Kelly, the Republican nominee, offers a different perspective. Whether or not people are ready for new leadership, Kelly said, LaVallee, 26, doesn’t fit the bill.
The 66-year-old incumbent cited LaVallee’s age, adding he hasn’t had enough experience in the private sector to be an effective member of Congress.
When voters are looking at candidates they need to ask, “What have they done with their life?”
Kelly, who owns a car dealership in Butler, touts his experience in the private sector over four decades.
He is seeking his third term representing the 3rd District in Tuesday’s election. Both candidates were unopposed in the May primary.
The district includes most of Lawrence County and runs north into Erie County and east into Armstrong County.
LaVallee, a former deputy director with a health insurance company, is making his first run at public office.
He graduated from North Allegheny High School, where he played basketball. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon University.
Noting he got married in September, LaVallee said, “I have a stake in western Pennsylvania for future generations.”
“I would look to expand job training, increase research and investment in our natural gas industry and stand up to corporations that have been shipping jobs overseas and have decimated our region in particular.”
LaVallee, a Cranberry Township resident, said Kelly voted to cut funds for Pell Grants for college students and Head Start.
“It’s not how you invest in our future.”
He supports student loan reform, saying some students are struggling and some people can’t afford to go to college because of the Pell grant cuts.
Under Kelly, LaVallee said, people in the district would face tax increases and cuts to education.
LaVallee supports increasing the minimum wage to $10.10, but through a phase-in approach.
“It’s time for people who are willing to work to make a livable wage.”
Kelly opposes raising the minimum wage.
“We should really be talking about maximizing opportunity. That’s through education and getting people ready for jobs.”
“When you increase the minimum wage, you’re going to eliminate jobs.”
The call for increasing the minimum wage, he added, “is a false narrative.”
LaVallee said Kelly is unwilling to work across the aisle, claiming he has called himself “a proud obstructionist.”
“It’s time to fight for job creation right now — across the aisle — and he’s failed.”
On the claim of being “a proud obstructionist,” Kelly responded, “I think those are clever talking points. He hasn’t looked into my record. It’s not based on fact.”
Kelly said he has built relationships with members on both sides of the aisle, trying “to make sure to protect taxpayers.”
“We didn’t raise taxes. We initiated tax reform for individuals and corporations.”
The House has increased the president’s budget and tried to protect education, he said.
The federal deficit, Kelly continued, has been reduced by increasing revenues as a result of improvement in the economy, but it’s not where it should be.
Kelly said he agrees with the public when it says Congress doesn’t do anything. However, “the caveat” is that there are two chambers.
“Ninety-eight percent of the legislation passed in the House is done in a bi-partisan way. But it can’t get through the Senate.”
Republicans hold the majority in the House while Democrats control the Senate.
Kelly said the president could play a huge role in eliminating the logjam, telling the Senate “to get it done and get it to me.”
“Once we get those through the Senate, they’ll see the economy rebounding. People will have more faith.”