The race for the state's 30th Legislative District features two political newcomers vying for a seat that was vacated when Randy Vulakovich, a Shaler Republican, cruised to victory in a special August election to replace convicted former state Sen. Jane Orie.
Asking for votes are David T. Tusick, a 26-year-old Democrat from Fox Chapel who co-owns a Pittsburgh advertising agency, and Republican Hal English, 49, of Hampton, a lawyer and retired Marine Corps officer.
Mr. English says he would use his extensive life experience to benefit the district, which covers Fox Chapel, Hampton and parts of O'Hara, Ross and Shaler. Mr. Tusick calls himself an "ambitious young American" who he said would bring a "fresh perspective" to a government in need of one.
Mr. English, a lawyer since 1987, served in active duty with the Marines from 1988 through 1991. He opened his law practice, with offices in Hampton and Ross, in 1998. He was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer in 1984 and retired in June after 30 years of service with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
He had served as a judge advocate, a prosecutor, a defense counsel, an appellate review officer and a legal assistance attorney. In his local legal practice, he works in a variety of areas, including estates, elder law, veterans affairs and wills.
Mr. English said he became interested in the seat when Mr. Vulakovich approached him, suggesting he run. They had known each other casually because of their involvement with Hampton's Memorial Day celebrations.
"Now that I don't have reserve duty [with the Marines,] I have a little more time on my hands and I've always been very service oriented," he said.
He said he sees himself as a "balanced decision-maker" who doesn't "carry a torch for one party or one issue but for everyone." He is asking voters to look at the successes he has garnered as an officer, an attorney, a volunteer with a variety of groups from the chamber of commerce to Rotary International and as a family man with a wife and two sons.
He said that, if elected, he would consider it his primary responsibility to ensure that "everyone has equal access to the services that are out there" and that he would resist the mode of "kicking the can down the road" by tackling today's problems today.
Mr. Tusick, a co-owner of Optimal advertising Downtown, said his economics and marketing degrees from Robert Morris University give him a foundation that would help him to address Pennsylvania's most pressing issues: economic and jobs development.
"Yes, I'm here to say that someone is running for office who actually has studied these issues," said the Democrat. He said he is willing to give up his role in his advertising firm and devote himself entirely to the job of state representative.
"I like advertising and it's a lot of fun but I'd rather sell ideas of merit in Harrisburg than ideas for more consumption [within the business community]," he said.
He said he would be a "strong voice for small business." He favors lowering the corporate income tax and increasing the fees on the Marcellus Shale industry. He also is in favor of eliminating or reducing the number of privately run cyber schools because of their drain on funding for bricks-and-mortar public schools in that subsidy dollars follow students from public schools to cyber schools.
He acknowledged that, if elected, he'd be among the younger faces in Harrisburg and he sees that as a good thing. "I would bring an entirely different perspective to the seat," he said.
Hal English, Republican
Education: Bachelor's degree, West Virginia University; juris doctor degree, University of Baltimore
Occupation: Owner, law offices of H.A. English & Associates for 15 years
Family: Wife, Sue; children, Garrett, and Jayson.
Statement: "A Marine lieutenant colonel, commanding officer, judge advocate, private elder law attorney, chairman of small firm attorney's, Rotary president, community association president, senior services board member, volunteer, church lay member and youth soccer and hockey players' coach. I can guide and make decisions with 25 years' experience."
David T. Tusick, Democrat
Education: Bachelor's degrees in economics, marketing, Robert Morris University
Occupation: Partner in advertising agency Optimal
Statement: "Do you want an energetic, well-educated and hardworking, young American to be the 30th's representative? If so, then you want Tusick. He has a B.S. in economics, and we need more legislators with a study in economics. He is a lifelong resident and a job-creating, small-business owner."
Karen Kane: email@example.com or 724-772-9180.