DeLuca, Wiegand square off in 32nd District primary
Tony DeLuca Sr. wants to continue working on issues from his previous terms.
Kristopher Wiegand wants to use his combination of background and experience to jump into Harrisburg and hit the ground running.
The longtime Democratic state representative and the challenger will square off in the May 20 primary election in a heavily Democratic district where the winner of the primary traditionally has had an easy path to the General Assembly.
“I enjoy working for the people, and I enjoy trying to get things done for them,” said DeLuca, 72. “All they need to do is go and look at my record, and if it's bad, then they deserve someone else.”
Wiegand, 38, would like to be that someone else.
“I can and will do things differently,” Wiegand said. “You can count on me to deliver everything Tony delivers and more … we're grateful to Tony for his years of service, but he has a lack of big ideas. He doesn't want things to change. He is the status quo; he helped make things the way they are now.”
DeLuca said he stands on his 31 years of service as a state representative and emphasized his full-time dedication to the position and availability to constituents.
“They know I'm available, and I've been very effective,” he said.
“I've been able to build up a rapport on both sides of the aisle, and I've been able to garner a lot of respect up in Harrisburg.”
Wiegand, a lawyer with an office in Greensburg, also has some experience in the state capital.
In 2001, he worked in the Governor's Office of General Counsel, both for the state Department of Labor and Industry and the state employee retirement system.
“I attended stakeholder meetings with constituents, attended high-level meetings with bureau chiefs, and frequently worked with the deputy secretary for labor and industry,” Wiegand said.
“I have the understanding and insight as to how the government runs, not only from the legal and judicial standpoint but also from the ‘nuts and bolts' side of bureaucracy.”
Both incumbent and challenger will be running in a district where boundaries have changed with the recent redistricting: The 32nd District now includes parts of Plum and Blawnox in addition to Penn Hills.
“This is a broad demographic district, and you need someone who can relate to these different demographics,” Wiegand said.
“I am biracial, and my grandfather was the founding pastor of Penn Hills Presbyterian Church, which is now Rolling Hills (Baptist) Church.”
DeLuca said he views the new parts of the 32nd much the same way as the old district.
“My district has mostly been a bedroom community, primarily residential,” DeLuca said.
“What we've picked up is largely the same thing … the new districts sort of melt into the old district; it's just expanded.”
Both DeLuca and Wiegand have ideas about health care in Pennsylvania.
As chairman of the House Insurance Committee, DeLuca has been working to find some common ground in the dispute between UPMC and Highmark. Wiegand said he wants to be known as “the health care guy.”
“It affects everyone,” Wiegand said.
“There's so much grumbling about Obamacare … it's a good idea in principle, but I believe its implementation is fundamentally flawed.”
Wiegand said he would like the state to adopt a two-tiered system in which primary care largely is handled by a network of nurse-practitioner-run clinics — “You go, pay your co-pay and that's it,” he said — whereas for advanced care, residents would be able to purchase private, supplemental insurance to help with the cost of surgery and long-term medical care.
Patrick Varine is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7845 or firstname.lastname@example.org.