Voters in the state's 42nd House District will face more than a primary on May 21. In a special election, they must choose someone to represent them in Harrisburg in the seat vacated by then state Rep. Matt Smith, who won election last November to the state Senate.
The district is centered on Mt. Lebanon and extends from Bethel Park through parts of Scott, Green Tree and Thornburg. It tends to be a fairly affluent, middle-class district with educated and informed voters. The three candidates running for the job -- all from Mt. Lebanon -- fit that profile, too.
George Brown, 52, is carrying the Libertarian Party banner in this race and that is his admitted main purpose -- giving voters a choice that is neither Republican nor Democrat. He is a software and systems engineer who graduated from Slippery Rock State College. He has not held public office and his Libertarian views -- socially liberal and fiscally conservative -- are a work in progress when it comes to addressing specific state issues.
Republican Dan Remely, 62, is a graduate of Bethany College who worked as a paralegal and studied real estate at the University of Pittsburgh, A member of the Mt. Lebanon school board, he is a small-business owner who specializes in real-estate rehabilitation projects. He is a conventional conservative who opposes higher taxes and excessive regulation, but his views on several key issues come with caveats that make us wonder where he really stands.
Mr. Remely is wary of expanding the state Medicaid program under Obamacare, but he thinks Pennsylvania should probably go forward with it, depending on what the federal government offers. He agrees that Gov. Tom Corbett's transportation funding plan is inadequate, but is leery about giving more revenue to an agency that is "not under control"; his solution includes abolishing the state's prevailing wage law and -- that old standby -- using money more wisely. He said it doesn't matter if the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission is folded into PennDOT or remains independent -- what matters is that it have proper controls against corruption.
Democrat Dan Miller, 40, served in AmeriCorps and was a history teacher. He went to law school at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., became an Allegheny County public defender and is now an assistant county solicitor. He maintains a private law practice with emphasis on special education. He served as a volunteer firefighter for seven years and as a Mt. Lebanon commissioner for four.
Mr. Miller strongly supports expanding Medicaid coverage. He thinks it is a mistake, as the Post-Gazette does, for the governor to turn his back on federal money that would help 600,000 needy people get health care and would employ more Pennsylvanians in the process. Like Mr. Remely, he believes the governor's transportation plan is inadequate to the long-neglected challenge of fixing the state's roads, bridges and mass transit, but he is four-square behind a Republican senator's $2.5 billion per year funding plan. He agrees with us that folding the turnpike commission into PennDOT would not only end its corruption but also create efficiencies in transportation spending.
Based on his clear understanding of and definitive positions on the issues, Dan Miller has earned the Post-Gazette endorsement and is the best choice for voters in the 42nd District.