Dunbar, Geissler look for votes in the 56th District
Two years ago, 56th District voters replaced Rep. James E. Casorio Jr., D-North Huntingdon Township, with Penn Township resident and former Westmoreland County Republican chairman George Dunbar.
On Tuesday, Dunbar is challenged for re-election by Democrat Raymond “Bud” Geissler Jr. of Irwin.
“I want to be an independent voice for all residents of the 56th District, not following party labels or ideologies,” said Geissler, 41, vice president of Metro Tours Inc., which provides educational travel for area students.
“Western Pennsylvanians have so many good qualities that deserve to be represented by their legislature,” Geissler said. “I want to see those values protected and promoted.”
Dunbar, 52, again touts issues he pressed in 2010.
“Fiscal responsibility, reforming Harrisburg and improving Pennsylvania's business climate to attract more family sustaining jobs,” Dunbar said. “In my first term we have made some headway on all of these issues but more needs to be done.”
Geissler has four goals:
• “Make every part of state government work in unison to promote jobs here.”
• “Give us all a brighter future by providing students, teachers and schools the tools they need to succeed.”
• “Assure our seniors that the state services they need and have earned will not be put in jeopardy.
• “Dramatically improve the constituent and community organization service levels delivered by legislative offices in the 56th District.”
Dunbar said he was one of the first freshmen to have a bill signed into law (he's had three). He said he was able to start projects that had stalled, such as the Route 130 bridge near completion over the Turnpike in Penn Township, improvements to begin next year to the Harrison City Export Road, bridge work in Penn and Jeannette, and the widening of Route 30 in Jeannette and North Huntingdon.
Dunbar would change the budgeting process to focus on outcomes expected when tax dollars are spent.
“If we are measuring outcomes we are better prepared to identify where your tax dollars should be spent,” Dunbar said. “This should help allocate our dollars where they are truly needed, towards education and infrastructure.”
Also, Dunbar said, “We need to stop picking winners and losers in the state through giveaways and tax incentives and make a level playing field for all. This should enable us to reduce the corporate net income tax and attract job providers.”
Geissler won his primary over state Democratic committeewoman Marybeth Kuznik of Penn Township.
“I was not the endorsed, party-chosen candidate,” Geissler said. “I won through the gracious support of open-minded voters throughout the district. If elected, I will serve all the residents and not serve any partisan agenda.”
Geissler graduated from McKeesport Area High School in 1989 and Duquesne University in 1993. He said he's involved in his community, church and schools to which he and his wife Michelle send their two children.
“I believe I have life experiences that prepare me well for the position,” Geissler said. “I own a small business and know how to succeed in the business world — an important perspective for state government. I come from a family immersed in education and realize the importance of state investment in our students and schools.”
Dunbar is a Certified Public Accountant with 32 years of business experience, including a stint as chief financial officer for Ryco Inc. in McKeesport. He's also a former Penn Township commissioner and with his wife Sandy has four daughters.
Both said they don't want perks offered to legislators.
“I will never vote for a pay raise, will refuse legislative perks like a state-paid car and cell phone, and will tolerate no excuses for government waste,” Geissler said. “I hope to demonstrate by hard work and personal example that state government can work effectively without raising taxes.”
“I do not take a state car, per diems or (cost of living) increases,” Dunbar said. “I pay towards my health care. I do this voluntarily, we need to put this into law for all legislators.”
Dunbar cited endorsements that include the National Federation of Independent Business, Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, National Rifle Association, Firearm Owners Against Crime and LifePAC.
LifePAC also endorsed Geissler. He also pledged to be a vigorous supporter of Second Amendment rights.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.