20th House District: Rep. Ravenstahl faces a weak challenge

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After winning the Democratic primary against two feisty opponents, state Rep. Adam Ravenstahl faces a lower hurdle this fall in his bid for a second full term.

The challenger to the brother of Pittsburgh's mayor is Constitution Party candidate James Barr of West View. A former Republican, Mr. Barr, 59, is running to give voters a choice. That's nice, but choice must be more than a second name on the ballot.

During the candidates' interview with Post-Gazette editorial writers, Mr. Barr, who works as a direct support professional at a group home, said he wants to abolish the property tax in Pennsylvania but he's not sure how high sales and income taxes would have to rise to replace the revenue.

On the proposals made by the governor's transportation funding commission, Mr. Barr said he didn't know the details but that people who use the roads should pay for them. When told that the panel agreed and called for raising driver's license and vehicle registration fees, Mr. Barr said he would not support the higher charges.

On cutting the size of the Legislature, the candidate whose party seeks to curb government said he would not vote for such a change but would rather see legislative salaries cut.

Mr. Ravenstahl of Pittsburgh's Summer Hill section entered the House after winning a June 2010 special election in the district, which includes Troy Hill, Lawrenceville, the Strip District, Spring Hill, Observatory Hill and Brighton Heights in the city, plus the suburbs of West View and parts of Ross and Reserve.

Mr. Ravenstahl, 27, said he would not vote to abolish the property tax because the rise in other taxes would be too onerous, that he would support the transportation funding proposals of the governor's commission and that he has already voted to cut the size of the Legislature.

On other issues we part company with the young lawmaker, but at least he knows where he stands. There is no reason for voters to take the challenger over Adam Ravenstahl.

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