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Mike Doyle says he knows Valley's concerns

| Saturday, April 21, 2012

The 12th Congressional District primary race has center stage, but the 14th Congressional District race is no understudy for the Alle-Kiski Valley.

While Rep. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, and Rep. Mark Ctriz, D-Johnstown, sling mud and grab headlines, most Valley voters might not realize they have no say in that race when they head to the ballot boxes on Tuesday.

The 14th District, which formerly only included Valley communities in the lower Route 28 corridor, now stretches as far north as Harrison and as far west as New Kensington.

The district has been represented by Forest Hills Democrat Mike Doyle, 58, since 2003 when his former district was combined with the 14th District. Now, that district has changed again.

Doyle, who has been a congressman since 1995, said adding the Alle-Kiski Valley to his district is an easy adjustment.

"It's a homecoming for me," he said. "I had a lot of those communities in my district before it was redrawn.

"The needs of the Allegheny Valley are the same as the Turtle Creek Valley, where I'm from," he said. "People in this district know if you work hard and play by the rules, you can do great in this country."

Doyle hasn't faced opposition in a primary in almost a decade -- until now.

His opposition is Janis C. Brooks, 62, of North Versailles.

Brooks, who holds a doctorate degree from the University of Maryland and owns the nonprofit Citizens to Abolish Domestic Apartheid, said she wants to be the congresswoman from the 14th District because she's in tune with people's needs.

"Congressman Doyle has been entrenched for so long and it's time for a change," said Brooks, who has worked in the private and public sector but has never held elected office. "I'm hearing from people that there is a lack of response in government. Their needs are not being met."

Brooks said she thinks the Alle-Kiski Valley's needs fit in with the needs of the rest of the district.

"People are concerned about jobs, violence, and health care issues," Brooks said. "We need these things to stabilize our families.

"You can't know these things unless you're out on the streets like I am."

Doyle said he respects Brooks opposition but thinks his track record speaks for itself.

"I've met her (Brooks) a few times and she seems like a nice lady," he said. "It's the beautiful thing about the democratic process anyone can run if they want to.

"The best way to get re-elected is to do a good job," he said. "I've always been focused on economic issues and representing the middle and working classes.

"Those are always the overriding concerns."

No race

Whomever emerges as the winner between Brooks and Doyle will already have an opponent waiting for them.

Forest Hills Republican Hans Lessman is running unopposed and is guaranteed to be the GOP nominee in November.

The 51-year-old optometrist Lessman will have his work cut out for him.

The 14th Congressional seat hasn't been held by a Republican since 1953, when the district was in the eastern part of the state.

In the Valley

Here's a look at the Alle-Kiski Valley's communities in the 14th Congressional District: Arnold*, Blawnox, Brackenridge*, Cheswick*, East Deer*, Harrison* (1st Ward, Division 1; 2nd Ward; and 5th Ward, Division 1), New Kensington*, Oakmont, Springdale*, Tarentum*.

*Denotes communities new to the district.

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