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Opinion

The fall election: Let's go to the issues

| Saturday, July 17, 2010

Who sets the agenda for political action in our county• The county commissioners, municipal officials, federal and state lawmakers, the two major political parties — the citizens?

It needs to be all, working together.

Here are some areas where the need for improvements or energy for change have been cited during public discussions in the past 20 years. You can decide if progress has been made:

• Advancing the use of the Allegheny River to attract visitors and help area stores, restaurants and hotels.

• Revitalization of our downtowns to attract commerce.

• Creation of joint police departments to provide enforcement of local as well as state and federal laws and to relieve some of the burden on state police dispatched out of the East Franklin station.

• Further development of the Route 28 corridor, not just at Northpointe but elsewhere by the way of housing and economic development in a regional effort.

• Reversal in the decline of housing stock in our long-established boroughs.

• More activities for youth.

We do not list the issues in any order of priority, and to be sure we can cite some very definite growth from time to time in each of the above categories.

We do, however, revive discussion about them because we are approaching an election of state and federal officials. Now is the time to advance our political interests.

The way we can do that is through networking, not only writing letters and e-mail to candidates and current officeholders and to newspapers, but by speaking directly to local leaders on municipal and county levels, asking what priorities they would set and how they expect they might be advanced.

Last week on a tour through the area, U.S. Rep. Mark Critz, the Johnstown Democrat who is filling out the term of the late Rep. John Murtha and who is running for a full term against Republican Tim Burns in November, made a stop at Northpointe, but he also heard during a visit in the southern county about a project to rehabilitate an old hotel in Leechburg.

Whether Mr. Critz will remain in the seat come the new year remains to be seen, but if he does, the effort in Leechburg by the Freeport Leechburg Apollo Group will remain fresh in his mind.

We need fiscal responsibility in both Washington and Harrisburg, but it can still be hoped that elected leaders representing the area in both cities can use their bully pulpits to advance causes as that in Leechburg or those suggested above.

Given the economic times, squeaky wheels may no longer get the grease. But if we aren't continually making some news, our forward progress will grind to a halt.

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