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Barry Wright seeks first term as Blair County Commissioner

Four candidates are vying for the three positions as Blair County Commissioner. Democrats Joseph Claar and Donna Gority and Republicans John Eichelberger and Barry Wright.
Wright, the president of the Altoona School Board and a former assistant Blair County treasurer, was a long-time banker and is retired from M&T Bank.
“I think I can make a difference in Blair County,” said Wright. “I can’t create jobs, but I can work with our federal, state and local representatives to create an atmosphere that will help business. If I was a commissioner when Westvaco closed, I would have been there working with Senator (Robert) Jubelirer and Congressman (Bill) Shuster to get the plant open again. I believe that as a commissioner, I can make a difference.”
Wright feels that a state budget being completed is the most pressing need for Blair County.
“We need to get some of the cuts put back into the state budget,” said Wright. “We need to continue as a team to work with the senator and the governor to put the money back into the budget. You can’t make the cuts that were made in the mental health, mental retardation, or drug and alcohol counseling, domestic relations or children and youth services. We have to work to put the money that helps children and try to save lives. The money that benefits human services needs to be put back into the state budget.”
Tax breaks is one way that can help bring business to Blair County.
“There are 23 different municipalities in the county and it would be nice to see them all work together,” said Wright. “Some municipalities have KOZ’s (Keystone Opportunity Zones), some have KOEZ’s and some have passed LERTA (Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance) zones. Each municipality needs to do what is necessary to attract jobs. Look at the Kunzler expansion for example. That expansion project is creating jobs. We have lost close to 4,000 manufacturing jobs in the last few years. We need to work to get jobs back in Blair County. We have a great work force here in the county who want to work. We need to look at luring high-tech industry. We also need to look into luring more distribution centers like Sheetz has in southern Blair County. High-tech and distribution centers provide good paying jobs that will help our county.”
Property tax reassessment is a topic that has been around since 1958. It may turn into a necessary evil, but Wright believes that it would be too costly for the county.
“To reassess the properties in Blair County would cost the taxpayers $3 million,” said Wright. “If it could be looked at with funding from the state level would be a different story. There are property owners who continue to approach the county to individually request a reassessment. These owners are looking for a reduction in taxes. Currently, the only reassessment can lower the tax rates. I want to see a formula that would be fair to all taxpayers.”
Wright plans to dedicate himself to the position if elected to the position of commissioner.
“I plan to be a full-time commissioner,” said Wright. “I will work to enhance Blair County. I believe that there are things that can be done at the county level. I believe that there should be security in the court house/ Centre County, Huntingdon County, Bedford County and all the surrounding counties have security in their court houses. Thankfully, we haven’t had an incident at the court house, but you want to look into this before something does happen. I will also work to preserve one of our largest industries… agriculture. In the northern and southern ends of the county, we have great agricultural communities. I plan to do what I can to preserve the agricultural industry.”
Wright defeated John Ebersole to earn his spot on the Republican ballot in the November election.