Newcomer says incumbent is out of touch
Incumbent Senator Robert Jubelirer and challenger Stacy Brumbaugh both agree that this yearís race for the seat Jubelirer has held for nearly 28 years is all about his performance in office.
“It ís not about me,” Brumbaugh said, ìItís about what he has or hasnít done in the last 28 years.î
The contest has been heated at times, with Jubelirer, a Republican, criticizing Brumbaugh as an out-of towner who worked for Democratic First Lady Hillary Clinton, and Brumbaugh accusing Jubelirer of being out of touch and ìvoting with the senators from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Jubelirer says his experience and leadership,as senator since 1974, as Majority Leader, as President Pro Tempore of the Senate since 1984, and as Lieutenant Governor since last year, qualify him for another term. And, he says, his years of seniority give him advantages a newcomer could not get.
“I can pick up the phone and call the governor, and he calls back,” he said. “Not everyone can say that.” Jubelirer says he has a “passion of serving this area,” and that he has been a ‘voice’ in Harrisburg and across the state for the area.
“You look back years ago and see what this district looked like. I didn’t do it by myself. Bud Shuster and other local legislators, we did it together. We’ve made significant changes in this area. It ís pretty exciting,” he said.
Brumbaugh is a local attorney who cites her community involvement as a qualification for her election. Brumbaugh has served on the board of directors for Blair County Human Services and the Hollidaysburg Area YMCA, on the Domestic Abuse Advisory Board, and was a custody master in Blair County. She teaches a four-credit course in business law at Penn State Altoona.
Brumbaugh also came in second to Scott Conklin in the 2001 Democratic race for the 9th Congressional seat after Rep. Bud Shuster resigned. She calls herself a ‘conservative Democrat’. “I think I’m probably more conservative than my opponent,” she said.
Brumbaugh said she ís interested in creating jobs, improving education, and increasing allotments for senior citizensí prescriptions by $80,000. She said the state should look to increase revenues by building up tourist attractions. Sheíd also like to see medical malpractice tort reform.
“We’re really in danger of losing our best and our brightest. Heís been siding with the trial lawyers in Harrisburg,” she said. “Awards should be reasonable. Some are incredibly punitive.”
Brumbaugh charges that many of her supportersósome of them Republicans feel that (Jubelirer ís) gotten complacent. They feel heís out for his own power, but the power hasnít translated into anything for 99.9 percent of the people. A lot of Republicans whoíve supported him in the past have come overî to support her, she said.
“If it doesn’t do any good around here, what good is it?” she said.
Jubelirer listed several area projects among those he has helped to bring to the area, such as the Blair County Ballpark, expansion to Penn State Altoona, and the Convention Center. “I have been able to garner tax dollars for this area,” he said.
“I know where to go or who to talk to when thereís red tape to cut.”
Both candidates cite jobs as the biggest issue facing Pennsylvania today.
Jubelirer said that Pennsylvania must put a stop to ìjob crushing tax increases. “We compete against the sunbelt states and right to work states, but we have some superb tax incentive programs (to bring jobs) and our markets are closerî to many other markets,” he said.
The solution to the job problem, he says ìdepends on who the next governor is. If Ed Rendell is governor, then his answer is to expand gambling. If you’re Mike Fisher, you’re going to be more traditional.”
Brumbaugh cited the closings of several businesses lately in her criticism of Jubelirerís performance. “Where ís the senator? He is here for the ribbon cuttings, but where is he for the pink slips?” she said. “He ís in Harrisburg. He ís not helping people here.”
“He has,” she said, “created some jobs.” Brumbaugh then cited a lawsuit brought against the Turnpike Commission by an employee who claimed to be passed over for a promotion that went to ‘a close friend’ of Jubelirer. “It is for his close friends,” she said. “I think it cost the taxpayers a half a million dollars. It is egregious and irresponsible.”
Brumbaugh also criticized Jubelirer for not taking a more active role in the property tax controversy, saying he has been ‘obstructionist’ on the issue.
“He refused to sign a petition for property tax reform (calling for a special session recently). Republicans from his own party from the southeast part of the state supported the special session. One was the final signature that put the petition over the top,” she said.
Jubelirer said talk about property taxes “has been with me the whole time I’ve been in Harrisburg” for 28 years.
“You donít need a special session to talk about property taxes.” Jubelirer even seems to stand apart from Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Fisher on the property tax issue. “Both gubernatorial candidates have promised to lower property taxes, but if you lower property taxes, you have to increase income taxes,” he said.
“The increased concern is understandable, particularly with school districts which have no cap (on the amount of taxes they can levy). The people should have the power to decide (about property tax reform.) Act 50 is already in place (which permits municipalities and school districts to allow) for voter referenda on taxation types, but school districts don’t like it because it puts a cap on taxes. You (then) canít raise taxes without voter approval.”
In the final count, Jubelirer said, he believes the voters will select him for another term. “Has he represented us? Has he been honest, open, and available? Has he worked hard to make our lives better? I don’t fear the answer to that question.”
“Even though they don’t agree with every single vote I’ve made, I’ve been honest with them,” he said.
Brumbaugh said her campaign is both “old-fashioned,” featuring door to door campaigning, and high tech.”
“This is an opportunity. I have the wherewithal. I think you prove yourself every day. He is not there for us anymore.”
Brumbaugh has challenged Jubelirer to debate. As of press time, Jubelirer has yet to respond to Brumbaugh’s challenge.
Newcomer says incumbent is out of touch