Campaign 2012/West: Incumbent, Baden councilwoman both want to create jobs in the state

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The ultimate goal is the same for candidates in the state's 47th Senate District: to create jobs.

Incumbent Elder Vogel, R-New Sewickley, is seeking his second term, while his Democratic opponent, Kimberly Pazzanita Villella, is a Baden councilwoman looking to win her first state seat. The district crosses parts of Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties.

Both candidates believe in marketing Pennsylvania -- and their Senate district specifically -- to outside industries to locate there. They also agree that increasing education funding can help ensure a solid workforce.

"We need to have students who are ready to join the workforce," said Mr. Vogel, 56, adding that bringing more jobs to the community would mean more young people would move back.

Ms. Villella, 49, believes that a solid education system is the No. 1 factor companies consider when looking to locate. She believes Western Pennsylvania is "a gold mine of natural resources," but that not enough jobs are being created.

"I've seen decline," Ms. Villella said. "I've always felt we had all the elements to make it happen, but we never had the leaders with the vision to make it happen."

Mr. Vogel, a dairy farmer, chose to run for the Senate after a dozen years as president of the Beaver County Farm Bureau. He became interested after traveling each year to Washington, D.C., and Harrisburg to meet local legislators.

When his predecessor retired, Mr. Vogel said there would be no farm representation at all in the Senate, so he took up the cause. Two years ago, he was named the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

He is the only dairy farmer in the Legislature, and the only farmer of any kind in the state senate. He has 40 dairy cows at his 400-acre farm in New Sewickley. When he is in Harrisburg, the farm is cared for by one employee, as well as relatives.

Among his success stories, Mr. Vogel points to securing funding for three hospital projects in his district, as well as introducing bills that would eliminate the need for inspections and emissions testing on new vehicles.

One of the items on his future agenda, Mr. Vogel said, is the creation of a "Pennsylvania Preferred" logo that could be placed on produce grown in the Keystone state.

"A marketing tool like that will help Pennsylvania farmers," he said. "[Consumers] will know they're helping their local community."

Ms. Villella has a similar plan for industry.

She touts a "Made in Pennsylvania" plan that would include tax incentives for local manufacturers who hire Pennsylvania workers and sell Pennsylvania products.

"I know how hard it is to find domestic products here," she said. "We've become consumers, not producers."

Ms. Villella touts her broad range of life experiences as the reason for her candidacy.

She started her own business at 19, and has worked in the beauty industry and in manufacturing.

She spent 25 years as a manufacturing representative for an international company, requiring travel throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. She is in her second, four-year term as a councilwoman in Baden.

Ms. Villella would like to see an end to cutting services, which leads to cutting jobs. She used as an analogy what happens if her personal business is slumping.

"Slashing is not a good way to do business," she said. "When my businesses are down, I go out and pound the pavement and generate additional revenue."

About the candidates:

47th Senate District

Elder Vogel, Republican

Age: 56

Education: Freedom Area High School

Occupation: Dairy farmer

Family: Parents, Elder A. and June E. Vogel

Statement: "Voters should re-elect me to the state Senate because I have delivered on my promise I made to them four years ago. I promised I would bring a fresh perspective to state government and fight to put an end to 'politics as usual' at our state Capitol, and I have."

Kimberly Pazzanita Villella, Democrat

Age: 49

Education: Ambridge Area High School

Occupation: Business owner/Baden councilwoman

Family: Husband, Chris; children, Christopher, Braelyn; grandson, Jaysean

Statement: "As a businesswoman and elected official, I've created jobs and balanced budgets using scarce resources. Current Republican policies are contrary to the need for investment and the importance of placing people before politics. To remain competitive and benefit from our bountiful resources, we must change the way business is done, and I pledge to make sure we will find common sense solutions to get the job done."

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Paula Reed Ward: or 412-263-2620.


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