By Keith Gushard
Though they may have different points of view on many issues, the three candidates vying for Pennsylvania’s Third Congressional District agree the most pressing problem in the district is the economy.
The trio met Wednesday afternoon at the studios of WQLN-TV in Erie to tape what apparently will be their only debate in the Third Congressional District. The Third District covers all or parts of seven northwestern Pennsylvania counties, including almost all of Crawford County.
More than two dozen people were in the studio audience at WQLN to witness the debate.
Incumbent Congressman Mike Kelly, a Republican from Butler, squares off in the Nov. 6 election against Democrat Missa Eaton of Sharon, an assistant professor of psychology at Penn State Shenango, and Independent Steven Porter of Wattsburg, a retired educator and an author.
“Most people are concerned that they’ll be able to find a job and be able to keep their job, and that the economy is going to be robust in the coming years,” said Eaton.
Eaton said she has a five-point plan to grow the economy including supporting entrepreneurship and making sure small businesses are protected and supported to create jobs.
Kelly said people within the district know there is something wrong and fearful.
“It’s the uncertainty of what the future holds,” Kelly said. “I’m afraid of where we’re going — the trajectory of the past four years.”
Kelly said middle-income families have seen their average income erode by $4,000 under the Obama administration’s economic policies.
“There’s been a vacuum of leadership,” Kelly said.
Kelly said he wants to see tax reform to lower the tax burden on Americans to create jobs and stimulate the economy.
Jobs can be created through clean-energy projects, according to Porter.
Those jobs can be created by building turbine-driven windmill farms within the Great Lakes region to generate electricity and solar energy farms in the southern regions of the country, Porter said.
Porter said passage of House Bill 676, the Physicians National Care plan, would take the burden of health care off Americans and stimulate the economy.
“The problem is the major parties are owned by special interests,” Porter said.
To improve the business climate, Kelly said the government has to remove the tax burden and the heavy regulation on business to get businesses to invest.
Porter said investment should be made in new energy technology and infrastructure.
“Instead of bailing out banks, we could use that money to invest in our infrastructure, in our jobs, in our factories,” he said. “The reason why we spend that kind of money is because the finance industry has paid off Congress with $2.8 trillion — not my figures. You’ll find it on OpenSecrets.org (a website that tracks political contributions). They’re helping the finance industry instead of working on the problems hurting local businesses.”
Eaton said manufacturing can be brought back within the district, but it may not be the same kind of manufacturing.
“We have the opportunity to not only get in on alternative fuels and alternative sources of energy, but we also have the opportunity to get in on added manufacturing,” said Eaton.
Added manufacturing means using new technologies such as robotics, new synthetic materials and other new production techniques to replace mass production with customized production.
You can watch
The one-hour debate between the candidates in Pennsylvania’s Third Congressional District airs today at 8 p.m. on WQLN-TV of Erie, Channel 54. WQLN is seen locally on Channel 13 on the Armstrong cable TV system.
The debate also will air Saturday at 1 p.m. on WJET-TV of Erie, Channel 24. WJET is seen locally on Channel 4 on the Armstrong cable TV system.
Pennsylvania’s Third Congressional District covers all or parts of seven counties including almost all of Crawford County.
Incumbent Congressman Mike Kelly of Butler, Democrat Missa Eaton of Sharon and Independent Steven Porter of Wattsburg are running for the Third District seat.
While tonight’s debate was taped Wednesday afternoon, the program will air unedited.
“We’ll not touch it (the content) at all,” said Tom New, director of creative services for WQLN-TV of Erie, Channel 54, where the debate was taped.