HARRISBURG -- The Democrat running to become the state's next auditor general is among a handful of candidates who have signed a pledge to use public opinion polls as a key factor in their policy decisions.
State Rep. Eugene DePasquale of York County and nine others have scrawled their names under a "Candidate Public Service Pledge" statement circulated by Tim Potts and his organization, The Majority Party PA.
The pledge states that a candidate will make decisions "that reflect the will of the majority of PA citizens as publicly documented by scientific public opinion research." The Harrisburg-based organization compiles surveys that must meet certain procedural standards, and a majority viewpoint must be documented in multiple polls before the group will add it to its list.
Mr. DePasquale, who signed the pledge in the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday, is the only statewide candidate so far to align himself with the group's effort.
He said he's heard a lot of frustration from voters who feel politicians aren't listening to them.
"We are a representative democracy, and when something reaches this level of support, that means it's important that we do everything we can to meet what the constituents want," he said.
For the auditor general, which is the post he's running against Republican John Maher to fill next year, Mr. DePasquale said polls indicate Pennsylvanians want to know more about how state tax dollars have been spent at Penn State University in light of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
He also said he'd pursue performance audits of the state Department of Environmental Protection's water oversight programs, noting that surveys show concerns about how Marcellus Shale drilling is proceeding in Pennsylvania.
The candidate acknowledged that governing by opinion polls isn't entirely practical. Surveys can indicate conflicting goals, such as interests in not raising taxes and in spending money on additional programs.
"My view is that when people say that, that's a sign that people want us to sit down and have a balanced approach on something, not tilt it one way or the other," Mr. DePasquale said.
However, some critics say lawmakers already promise to listen to and balance the wishes of their constituents when they are elected and take office.
"It's very easy to say I'm for or against this," House Republican spokesman Steve Miskin said. "Then you have to get into the nitty-gritty of who exactly is affected, and it kind of changes things."
Harrisburg Bureau Chief Laura Olson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-787-4254.