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Republican incumbents Dunbar, Ward plan to continue work

| Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 8:55 p.m.

Republican incumbents dominated two local races during the Nov. 6 election.

George Dunbar won a second term as the state representative for the 56th District, while Kim Ward clinched a second term as the state senator for the 39th District.

Dunbar, 51, of Penn Township, received 17,459 votes. He defeated Democratic newcomer Raymond “Bud” Geissler, 41, of Irwin by about 5,000, according to unofficial results from the Westmoreland County Elections Bureau.

The 56th District includes North Huntingdon, Irwin, North Irwin, Jeannette, Penn Borough and portions of Penn Township.

During the election, Dunbar received more votes than Geissler in every community except North Irwin.

“It was very humbling that the victory was so widespread,” Dunbar said.

“I ran with a message of fiscal responsibility, private sector job creation and, although we have started, there is a lot more work to do.”

Dunbar said he hopes his experience in the House allows him to become a more vocal leader and get more work done.

He plans to focus on reforming the state's budgeting process. He proposed the state move from a line item-based budgeting system to an outcome-based system.

The outcome-based system could allow legislators to determine if money is being spent effectively, he said.

“It's one of my top priorities,” he said. “I'm also certain we'll have to deal with transit funding, pension reform and healthcare.”

Ward, a former Hempfield Township supervisor and county commissioner, pummeled her challenger, independent candidate Ron Gazze of Greensburg, by 78,892 votes, to secure her state Senate seat.

The 39th District covers a large portion of Westmoreland County, including North Huntingdon, Irwin, North Irwin, parts of Greensburg, Adamsburg, Hempfield, Jeanette, and Penn Township.

Ward said she plans to continue working on a slew of bills aimed at curbing child abuse. She worked with the Child Abuse Task Force to change several bills at the Senate committee level, which she expects to prepare for discussion.

Ward said she also plans to continue working on several bills aimed at curtailing drug abuse, methadone and dealing with drug dealers, she said.

Over the next two years, Ward expects transportation and infrastructure to take precedence. She said she considers the state's infrastructure to be at “an emergency level.”

“Our roads and bridges are some of the worst in the country, and we need to deal with them,” Ward said.

“If we don't, it will stunt our economic growth, and we'll miss out on bringing new businesses into the state and potentially lose some of the ones we already have.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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