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Forest Hills-Regent Square Patch: 2012 General Election Guide

Here's a look at the candidates and important issues for the November general election.

As we look ahead to November’s elections, Forest Hills-Regent Square Patch is devoted to bringing you the information you need about every race in town.

Forest Hills-Regent Square Patch has an Elections Page where you can find more information.

Forest Hills, Edgewood and Swissvale

Economic development, transportation, health care and education funding are hot topics for the candidates of Forest Hills, Edgewood and Swissvale.

34th Legislative DistrictIncumbent Democratic state Rep. Paul Costa is running unopposed in this election. The 34th District includes Braddock, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, Churchill, Edgewood, Forest Hills, North Braddock, Rankin, Swissvale, Turtle Creek, Wilkins and parts of the 14th Ward in the City of Pittsburgh.

24th Legislative District—Democrat Ed Gainey is running opposed. The 24th District covers Aspinwall; the 11th, 12th, 13th and part of the 14th wards in Pittsburgh; and Wilkinsburg.

PA 43rd Senate District—Democrat incumbent Sen. Jay Costa is running unopposed. The district includes Braddock Hills, Chalfant, Churchill, Edgewood, Forest Hills, Swissvale and the 14th Ward of Pittsburgh.

PA 14th Congressional District—Incumbent Mike Doyle, a Democrat, will face Republican Hans Lessmann in the fall general election. Both are from Forest Hills. The district includes Braddock, Braddock Hills, Chalfant, East Pittsburgh, Edgewood, Forest Hills, North Braddock, Rankin, Swissvale, Turtle Creek, Wilkins and Wilkinsburg.

U.S. Senate Challenge

Republican: Tom Smith, Armstrong County

Democrat: Bob Casey, the incumbent U.S. senator from Scranton, Lackawanna County

Libertarian: Rayburn Smith

Incumbent Democrat Bob Casey of Scranton, Lackawanna County, faces a well-funded challenge from Republican Tom Smith of Shelocta, Armstrong County in the race for one of Pennsylvania's two U.S. Senate seats.

Casey, a son of the late Gov. Robert Casey, won the seat in 2006 after defeating former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum. Prior to entering the Senate, he served as state auditor general and treasurer.

Smith, a coal businessman and multimillionaire, is a founder of a Tea Party group in Indiana and Armstrong counties.

U.S. President: 

Republican: Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor.

Democrat: Barack Obama, incumbent U.S. president and former U.S. senator from Illinois.

Libertarian: Gary Johnson

Green: Jill Stein


Key Issues

Jobs/Economy

The number one issue for western Pennsylvania voters, as with many voters across the country, is jobs and the sluggish economic recovery.

President Obama continues to campaign for the American Jobs Act, which the White House says will prevent up to 280,00 teacher layoffs, allow for the hiring of tens of thousands of police officers and firefighters, encourage the hiring of returning veterans, and invest billions into roads, rails, airports and waterways. And he blames Congress for not doing enough. Congress “hasn’t acted fast enough,” the president told his supporters at a recent rally. “Congress,” he said, “can’t just sit on their hands.”

Governor Romney and other Republicans suggest the Obama plan is nothing more than a payoff to Democratic constituent groups, particularly organized labor, which would benefit from federal grants to states to keep government workers on the payroll, as well as construction projects to be completed by union job crews.

On his campaign’s web site, Romney blames the President’s policies for the lack of job growth. “The vast expansion of costly and cumbersome regulation of sectors of the economy, ranging from energy to finance to health care. When the price of doing business in America rises, it does not come as a surprise that entrepreneurs and enterprises cut back, let employees go, and delay hiring,” Romney said.

PA Property Tax Reform
Gov. Ed Rendell promised that revenue from slots parlors and gaming tables would greatly reduce or in some cases eliminate property taxes. Years later, that promise remains unfulfilled with the average savings per household at $186 in 2011, according to data from the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations.

There is new legislation, albeit in limbo right now, which would eliminate a school district’s ability to levy a property tax, replacing that funding with an increase in sales and personal income taxes statewide.

The state house finance committee tabled the Property Tax Independence Act on Monday, but the issue is not likely going to go away.

Sponsored by Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks, the measure would hike the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent statewide and raise the personal income tax rate from 3.07 percent to 4 percent. In Allegheny County, the sales tax would rise to 8 percent. 

In addition, many goods and services currently exempt from the sales tax would be taxable under the bill, which aims to raise $10 billion dollars to replace the revenue that would be lost by the elimination of school property taxes.

Liquor Store Privatization
Gov. Tom Corbett is trying to do what two of his Republican predecessors, over a span of 30 years, could not: privatize state stores so that private retailers can sell wine and liquor.

The bill, sponsored by House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, could come up for a vote in the House by week’s end. If approved, it would go on to the Senate for consideration in the fall. "House Bill 11 is about divestiture. House Bill 11 is about the consumer. It is about reasonable prices and better selection and more convenience. It is about upgrading law enforcement," said Turzai when he first introduced the measure last July. "It is about moving from a public sector dinosaur into the modern 21st century."

Only two states, Pennsylvania and Utah, have complete control of all aspects of wine and spirits distribution, according to a report that the governor's budget office commissioned.

Not everyone agrees that House Bill 11 is the way to go. "The House Liquor Control Committee passed a version of HB 11, which would leave the Liquor Control Board intact, a major turnaround from Turzai’s original proposal to completely privatize liquor sales," states a story from 90.5 FM Pittsburgh Essential Public Radio.

The union that represents state liquor store managers has lobbied against the bill; two Pennsylvania chapters of the United Food Commercial Workers, representing state store employees, also oppose the bill, the 90.5 radio story states.

"The Independent State Store Union says that the bill’s provision to allow beer distributors to begin selling wine will cause the state store system to slowly diminish," according to the story. The ISSU also opposes the bill.

Sue T November 02, 2012 at 04:56 PM
If you are going to try and relate Romney's interest in western PA to Obama's basee on how many times they have been here and are including Bidden's visit in that measure then you may also want to include Ryans. He was just here a couple of Saturdays ago. I'm not sure if he has been here any other times, but your article is biased by a lack of even acknowleging him. Have Johnson or Stein been here?
Zandy Dudiak November 02, 2012 at 05:30 PM
First, to readers I apologize. This election guide, originally published on our site a number of weeks ago, was featured today in order to provide you with the background information on candidates heading into the election. In my haste very late last night to get it positioned on the page for today, I forgot to update it. I'd like to thank Sue T. for pointing that out. However, Sue T., there was no bias intended. Mr. Ryan had not visited the area when the original story was written and the information in the story was based solely on what was true at the time. Patch's editorial staff, all of whom are professional journalists, works very hard to present neutral information with no bias toward or against any candidate. However, our Local Voices section, which is open to anyone with a view to express, reflects the positions of the bloggers who are not paid Patch staffers. I have removed the dated information from this story and encourage you to follow our extensive coverage on Tuesday.
Sue T November 02, 2012 at 06:00 PM
It may not have been intended to sound biased, but to be accurate you should have left the original date on the article. I made the comment because it shows up as being posted at 5:20AM today. Or perhaps, for accuracy stated as "reposted from...." By not including the original print date, the article starts off as inaccurate.
Zandy Dudiak November 02, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Believe me, Sue, I tried to keep the original date but it didn't show up on the site because of the way our system is set up. The only way I could get it to be at the top of the home page was to revoke the original date and republish it this morning.
Sharpie November 05, 2012 at 07:45 AM
On the ballot for the Presidency, Gov. Gary Johnson (Libertarian) and Dr. Jill Stein (Green). Make a special note to remember to watch the Free and Equal Election Debate between third party candidates, Gov. Gary Johnson and Dr. Jill Stein to be aired tonight on Monday evening, Nov. 5th from 9:00 - 10:30 pm Eastern Time. Perform a worthwhile civic duty, and be certain to listen in on this historic debate so that you can make an informed decision on voting day. Third party candidates who will be on the ballot in most states deserve to be heard. http://freeandequal.org/?v=1
Zandy Dudiak November 05, 2012 at 07:49 AM
Check back with Patch Monday morning. We are featuring a story on the Libertarian candidates.
Sharpie November 05, 2012 at 07:26 PM
MUST read: "Support for Kill List and NDAA make Obama and Romney Unfit for Office" http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/reawakening-liberty/2012/nov/2/support-kill-list-and-ndaa-make-obama-and-romney-u/ Make a special note to watch the Free and Equal Election Debate between third party Presidential candidates, Gov. Gary Johnson (Libertarian) and Dr. Jill Stein (Green) to be aired tonight on Monday evening, Nov. 5th from 9:00 - 10:30 pm Eastern Time. Perform a worthwhile civic duty, and be certain to listen in on this historic debate so that you can make an informed decision on voting day. Third party candidates who will be on the ballot in most states deserve to be heard. It is a violation of the 1st Amendament rights of third party candidates, and a violation of the free speech rights of every American, for their voices to be silenced. http://freeandequal.org/?v=1

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