Congressional Democrat candidate meets voters
BUTLER TWP — Dan Pastore, of Erie County, has not held public office before, but was motivated to run for Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District when he saw local legislators not accepting the results of the 2020 Presidential election.
Pastore said he is running on the platform of fighting against the disenfranchisement of voters that he said politicians have been pushing for in recent years.
“Their efforts to undermine democracy and disenfranchise people is something we shouldn’t tolerate,” he said. “We are all entitled to fair elections, and I want to see more set in stone.”
On Thursday, Pastore traveled to The Back Alley, 540 Fairground Hill Road, where he met with voters to discuss his plans for the Congressional seat, and to hear what issues are most important to them.
Pastore is a businessman, attorney and lifelong Erie County resident. He said he worked as a carpenter for his family’s business and at a law firm where he focused on construction law. He also owned two businesses, including one focused on e-commerce. He serves on the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission board.
The incumbent, Mike Kelly, has been in Congress since 2011, and is running for the seat again against Pastore.
In his meeting Thursday, Pastore said he wants to rebuild the economy throughout the district by taking advantage of open manufacturing jobs and infrastructure opportunities.
“I have watched decline many of our communities where we once had everybody employed, businesses we have lost,” he said. “We have the chance to uplift these communities and bring back the vibrancy... Pittsburgh has done a good job of that. How do we bring that back to the rest of the district?”
Pastore referenced Butler County, which actually experienced growth from 2020 to 2021, as a place to implement infrastructure improvements to drive economic growth.
He said he would like to see more money funneled to public schools, and wants to rework funding for education.
“If we don’t have strong schools, people aren’t going to stay,” Pastore said. “Some districts have many more resources than others and the federal government has a role to play in leveling the playing field and bringing those resources to communities that need them the most.”
Ellen Garbuny, of Butler, said she is concerned about abortion rights, and wants to see a candidate stand up for women’s choice in Pennsylvania.
“I’m pro-choice, and I think it’s important right now that we have a voice,” she said. “We don’t need men making laws about it — it should be between a woman and her doctor.”
Pastore said he supports abortion rights, and that is an issue he would like to address if elected.
“Politicians shouldn’t be making those decisions for women,” Pastore said. “We have a law in Pennsylvania, something I think is a reasonable approach to the issue.”
Don Best, of Butler, said he is happy someone is challenging Kelly.
“(Kelly’s) not doing what’s best for Butler County,” Best said. “We need someone else there for us.”
Pastore said overall he would like to be a voice for people throughout the 16th district, and plans to continue meeting voters on the campaign trail. He said he plans to “work across party lines” to try “to avoid the partisanship we have today.”
“The primary (focus) for me is trying to rebuild the economy throughout the district,” Pastore said.