Campaign 2012/West, North: Some common ground marks race in House 44th District

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While state Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Moon, and his challenger for the 44th Legislative District, Democrat Mark Scappe, differ on contentious state issues such as a gas extraction tax, gun control and liquor store privatization, they do share some common ground.

Both candidates in the Nov. 6 election have held elected offices and run private businesses -- and neither is a fan of Gov. Tom Corbett's cuts to education funding.

Since winning a June 2003 special election, Mr. Mustio has represented the 44th District, which includes Aleppo, Ben Avon Heights, Findlay, Haysville, Kilbuck, Moon, North Fayette, Ohio Township, Osborne, Sewickley, Sewickley Heights and Sewickley Hills; and parts of Collier, Edgeworth, Robinson and South Fayette.

On the issue of Marcellus Shale, Mr. Mustio is opposed to extraction taxes for natural gas, which he said "would probably eliminate the building of the cracker plant [proposed by Shell]" in Beaver County. Pennsylvania would be competing with states that do not have an extraction tax, he said. "They are not drilling in West Virginia because of the tax."

Mr. Scappe thinks it's "bad business not to go after that to help taxpayers."

On gun control, Mr. Scappe says he supports the Second Amendment but thinks there should be a law requiring owners to report lost or stolen guns in 24 hours. Mr. Mustio said he is opposed to gun control, including a reporting requirement, saying, "I think there are enough laws on the books right now. Let's enforce those laws."

On the privatization of the state-owned liquor stores, Mr. Scappe said, "Right now I am against it. ... There is no indication it would produce additional revenue."

Mr. Mustio, on the other hand, is in favor, saying, "I don't think [the state] should be in the business of selling liquor."

In other states when liquor sales were privatized, "they are seeing much more revenue." He suggested a compromise in which some stores would be privatized while others would remain controlled by the state.

The two are united in support for education financing.

"We need to reverse the education cuts Harrisburg forced schools to make," according to Mr. Scappe.

"There are areas where I disagree with the governor, and education is one of them," Mr. Mustio said.

"We need to be sure that education is funded. That is our future workforce."

Mr. Mustio also says he has always been a proponent of research and programs for people with autism.

Before becoming a state representative in 2003, Mr. Mustio held many community posts, including Moon supervisor and chairman of the Pittsburgh Airport Area Chamber of Commerce.

He is a businessman -- president of Hicks Heim Mustio Insurors and a partner of HHM Financial Services and HHM Benefits.

Mr. Scappe served on the Moon Area school board, much of it as president, from 1999 to 2011, and is president of the Moon Transportation Authority, where he has served for 10 years. He is an engineer and co-owner of an engineering firm with five employees.

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Linda Wilson Fuoco: lfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-722-0087.


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