3rd District candidates participate in debate
Top issue is economy
Butler Eagle
Written by:
October 29, 2012

SUMMIT TWP, Erie County — The three candidates for the 3rd Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives said Wednesday the economy is the top issue during their only debate before the Nov. 6 election.

Current Republican Rep. Mike Kelly, Democratic challenger Missa Eaton and independent challenger Steven Porter faced each other at the KQLN-TV studio in Erie County.

“I think that most people are concerned (about the economy),” said Eaton of Sharon, Mercer County.

Kelly of Butler, who is in his first term, said middle and lower income workers’ paychecks have dropped roughly $4,000 during the past four years.

“I’m afraid of where we’re going,” Kelly said.

Porter of Wattsburg, Erie County, said that millions of jobs could be created in the U.S.

When asked how he intends to keep businesses in the U.S., Kelly said that he has done everything he could to keep taxes low and regulations minimal.

“Let’s make sure we keep it here in America,” Kelly said.

Porter said that wind farms and a high speed rail in the district will help keep jobs in the district. He said he did not know why the government chose to bail out banks when they could have spent that money on creating manufacturing jobs.

“We should be building wind farms all across the Great Lakes,” Porter said.

Eaton said she wants to bring more manufacturing jobs back to the district.

“I think that that’s going to make the difference,” Eaton said.

To help protect and grow small businesses, Porter said that one thing he advises is to return to the tax code of the 1960s, when corporate tax contributions made up 24 percent of the federal budget. Currently, he said, they make up 8 percent.

Eaton said she would revisit the Affordable Care Act of 2011 to make sure it is not too much of a burden on small businesses and non-profits. Again, she said that manufacturing is key.

“If we bring manufacturing back to this region, we bring people back to this region,” Eaton said.

Kelly said that uncertainty is a major hindrance for small business growth.

“They don’t know where the country is leading them,” Kelly said.

He said the corporate tax rate could be lowered, regulations decreased and students educated for jobs that are readily available. These include vo-tech, medical and science jobs, he said.

Eaton said there should be investment in education at all levels, including technical schools and community colleges. She also said that students should be ready when they are out of 12th grade. “Some of them aren’t going to college,” Eaton said.

Kelly said the key is to make sure students are prepared for the jobs that are available. “We have to get our kids ready for the jobs that are there today,” Kelly said.

Porter said the education system should find out what students do well and give them what they need to succeed. “If we do that, we will have all of the workforce that we need,” Porter said.

When asked what should be done to make sure younger people stay in the district, Eaton said the best thing to do is to make sure there are industries that will attract people. In turn, a more populated district means more people will be paying for schools.

Kelly said that people leave the district because of a lack of work. Education can help turn that around.

“Education is the key to it,” Kelly said.

Porter said the U.S. is one of the only countries that funds education through property taxes, which he said puts school districts with low property values at a disadvantage.

“It’s regressive,” Porter said.

He said the best method is a per capita payment rate that is run by the state.

When asked about the Affordable Health Care Act of 2011, Porter said that H.R. 676, which was introduced in 2009 and never came to a vote, offered a better single-payer health care system that was recommended by health care providers rather than insurance companies.

“It belongs to the doctors who serve us,” Porter said.

Eaton said that she “generally” is in favor of the act, but said that it should be revisited to make it better.

“It’s not a perfect law,” Eaton said.

Kelly said that he supports a law that makes health care accessible and affordable, but he said the act does not do that. He said that a health care law needs to have patients and providers involved in its creation.

When asked about energy, Kelly said that the state sits on 200 years of natural gas and 200 years of coal. These resources should be used to keep energy costs low and create jobs. “We can control our future,” Kelly said.

Porter said that he does not consider fossil fuels to be the way of the future, but he sees them as a bridge to the future. He said he would like to see the government, for every dollar it spends on fossil fuels, spend a dollar on alternative energy.

Eaton said that she likes the natural gas, including Marcellus Shale natural gas, in the state. “I want to be able to extract that,” Eaton said.

But she wants to make sure extracting it is safe

Additionally, she said the U.S. should invest in renewable energy such as nuclear and wind.

The 3rd District covers all of Butler, Armstrong and Mercer counties, all of Crawford County except Titusville, and parts of Clarion, Erie and Lawrence counties.