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Mustello, Covert running in 11th District primary

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The April 23 ballot will look similar to the ballot voters saw in the 2020 primary election, as state Rep. Marci Mustello, R-11th, is facing another challenge from Butler business owner Ryan Covert for the Republican nomination.

Covert, an owner of Snack ‘N Pack and Butler Hot Dog Shoppe in Butler, will face off against Mustello, who is running in hopes of securing her third full term as the state representative in District 11, which includes Butler city; Buffalo, Butler, Clearfield, Clinton, Donegal, Jefferson, Oakland, Summit and Winfield townships; and Chicora, East Butler and Saxonburg boroughs.

The rematch comes after Mustello captured the party’s nomination in the 2020 primary in a close election. She initially won the seat in a May 2019 special election.

Mustello’s term expires at the end of the year. The seat is up for reelection every two years.

Marci Mustello

Seeing a bill she introduced that would revise the state’s small games of chance regulations become law is one of the main reasons Mustello is seeking office.

“I have a lot of unfinished business that I started. I have a lot of legislation I want passed,” she said.

House Bill 1797, introduced last year, would update the regulations which Mustello said inhibit fundraising efforts by nonprofit organizations.

When organizations that operate clubs have fundraisers, they are allowed to keep 40% of the money taken in and required to give 60% to other nonprofits, she said.

Organizations, such as volunteer fire departments, that have fundraisers are limited to give prizes with an aggregate value of $150,000 in a calendar year, she said.

Marci Mustello

The bill would change the 40%-60% split to 50%-50%, and change the calendar year aggregate to $300,000, allowing the organization to get a better return for their fundraising efforts, she said.

“Our job as legislators is to make changes that make life easier,” Mustello said.

She said she would also continue to support legislation requiring voter identification at polls.

Another reason she said she wants to be reelected is her understanding of how the legislature operates and her knowledge of the needs relating to Buffalo, Winfield and Clinton townships, which were added to the district in the 2022 redistricting.

“It’s the district, the county and the commonwealth you have to think of,” Mustello said. “In that order.”

She said she advocates for the entire district and was recently able to help secure $1.3 million for transportation projects in Butler and Clearfield and Winfield townships, and urged the state Department of Environmental Protection and Gov. Josh Shapiro to fight a federal mandate regarding steel used in electrical transformers that endangers the 1,300 jobs at Cleveland-Cliffs.

Mustello said she supports keeping state spending in line with revenue, not spending budget reserves, and legislation that allows breweries to expand and operate under the same standards as wineries.

She serves on the Appropriations, Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Gaming Oversight and Liquor Control committees.

As a member of the Appropriations Committee, she said her role is to ask department secretaries and presidents of state-funded universities to justify their budget requests and eliminate failing programs.

Ryan Covert

Covert is running on a conservative platform and supports term limits, halting automatic pay raises for House members, reducing regulations impacting farmers, school choice and gun rights.

“I’m running because it feels like we’re not getting true conservative representation in Harrisburg that aligns with the people of the 11th District,” he said.

Ryan Covert

He claims Mustello hasn’t consistently voted with Republicans in the House.

As of April 9, he said he had knocked on over 4,000 doors of district voters to seek their support — something he said pandemic restrictions prevented him from doing in 2020.

“I don’t like automatic pay raises. I’d like to see it voted on. All automatic pay raises do is prevent them from being accountable for a pay raise. It should be on the record,” Covert said. “On Election Day, it helps voters make a decision.”

He said House members should be limited to three terms in office, and term limits should apply to elected officials in all levels of state and federal government.

“You never get anything different if you get the same thing over and over again. Term limits are an absolute must. No limits leads to corruption,” Covert said.

Government regulations in general are holding back small businesses, he said. Non-elected federal employees made a regulation aimed at shutting down Cleveland-Cliffs, he said.

“We need to stop holding America back from good paying jobs that move the economy forward,” Covert said.

Farmers he said he has talked to have told him that Department of Agriculture regulations prevent them from selling the meat and eggs they produce because of the water from creeks and streams that their animals drink from.

“Different water regulations are preventing them from selling meat and eggs,” Covert said.

He said he supports Second Amendment rights for owning firearms and “constitutional carry,” a premise of allowing people to carry guns openly or concealed without obtaining a permit.

“You shouldn’t have to buy a permit to carry a gun, if you’re a legal gun owner,” Covert said.

Parents should have the right to send their children to the school of their choice and pay taxes to those schools, he said.

He said his background in business would also help him be an effective representative.

“We’re missing a rep who understands what its like to work outside of nonprofits and government,” Covert said.

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