Campaign 2012/East: Voters in the 25th District to choose new face or years of service

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The two men running for the state's 25th House District have differing opinions on a variety of issues, including their views on the importance of experience.

The 25th district is made up of Monroe-ville, Trafford, Pitcairn, Wall and parts of Murrysville, Plum and North Versailles.

Joe Markosek, D-Monroeville, is a 30-year incumbent who once served as chairman of the Transportation Committee and is now the Democratic leader on the Appropriations Committee.

Mr. Markosek, 62, said the fact that he was voted into the appropriations seat by his Democratic peers proves he is still aggressive, energetic and eager to take on the leadership role.

But his opponent, Plum Council President Mike Doyle, a Republican, disagrees.

"Harrisburg is broken," said Mr. Doyle, 47. "Joe's been there for 30 years. It's time for some new blood and some new ideas."

Mr. Doyle is not related to Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, who is seeking re-election to the 14th District in the U.S. House.

Plum's Mr. Doyle said he wants to lower corporate income taxes to draw jobs to Pennsylvania and said he wants to do in Harrisburg what he did in Plum, where he has served on council since 2006 and been president for three years. He decreased the size of the budget by getting rid of duplicate services and said the borough is currently sitting on a $1.2 million surplus.

"We're proving in Plum it can be done if you have the will to do it," he said. "So I'm asking the voters of the 25th District to give me a shot."

Mr. Markosek, who sponsored a ban on text messaging while driving that took effect in March, practices what he preaches -- reached by cell phone this week, he assured a reporter he was speaking from his car on a hands-free phone.

He said he wants to improve transportation and upgrade the commonwealth's "geriatric infrastructure." He said he would vote for measures like a gas tax hike and increased fees on drivers' licenses and vehicle registration to fund bridge and road upgrades and transportation improvements.

"We need a comprehensive transportation funding formula in Pennsylvania," Mr. Markosek said during an Oct. 10 meeting with the Post-Gazette's editorial board.

Mr. Doyle said during that meeting that he wouldn't raise taxes or fees to fund transit or infrastructure improvements. Instead, he said he would "eliminate waste in Harrisburg" by auditing every department in the capital.

Mr. Doyle said he would have voted against Mr. Markosek's texting-while-driving ban, saying he's not in favor of legislating common sense.

Mr. Doyle says privatizing state-controlled liquor stores would be a good thing -- "Just about everything government runs, breaks," he said -- while Mr. Markosek noted the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board provides 5,000 well-paying jobs and said the loss of jobs, revenue and real estate would be detrimental.

"Just the job part of it itself is a huge, huge issue that gets lost in the convenience issue," Mr. Markosek said, noting that rural communities could lose their liquor stores and Pennsylvania already is seeing an "evolution" with the availability of beer in some grocery stores.

They do agree on some issues -- both men want to reduce the size of the Legislature and said they would oppose stricter laws on lost and stolen handguns, arguing that there are plenty of laws on the books now to curb straw purchases.

And both men are anti-abortion, but Mr. Doyle said he would support laws requiring a woman to have an ultrasound with the screen facing her before having an abortion. Mr. Markosek said the ultrasound bill "crosses the line."

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Annie Siebert: asiebert@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1613. Twitter: @AnnieSiebert.


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