Your 2014 State College Voter Guide
It’s election day in America. Polls open at 7 a.m. today, and if you’re registered you should definitely find time before 8 p.m. to vote. While most races in State College are likely to be anticlimactic, high turnout is a hallmark of a civically engaged and caring community.
First, check to make sure you’re registered to vote in Pennsylvania using the online database. Next, lookup the location of your polling place (my personal favorite resource is FindYourFuckingPollingPlace.com). Once you have that figured out, it’s time to make an informed vote. Below is an overview of the races State College voters will choose from.
These two candidates disagree on virtually every issue along partisan lines. Even conservative-leaning polls have Tom Wolf leading big against incumbent Tom Corbett — some polls even show a historic 20+ point lead — with the average poll settling in at around 11 percent. Electoral prediction whiz Nate Silver puts Corbett’s chances at winning at just 1 percent. Whether you want to pile on to Corbett’s defeat or you’re crossing your fingers that every poll is wrong, this is the election most Pennsylvanians will be watching tomorrow.
Corbett was elected Pennsylvania’s 46th governor in 2010 and previously served as its Attorney General. He is running on the traditional conservative platform to not raise taxes, which is something he generally adhered to in his first term. Corbett holds virtually every standard Republican position, including opposing stronger background checks for gun purchases and supporting prolife policies and the death penalty. During his first term, he tried and failed to privatize Pennsylvania’s liquor control.
Corbett is probably most maligned for his staggering $900 million in education cuts during his time in office, a number he says is inflated due to federal stimulus funds expiring. Still, Corbett has no announced plans to provide additional funding to Pennsylvania’s public schools, which include enormous cuts to Penn State’s state appropriations. Pennsylvania also went from 7th to 49th in the country in job creation under Corbett’s watch, although you can decide for yourself how much responsibility he has for that decline. Corbett has also been criticized for how he handled the Sandusky situation while District Attorney, as a Penn State trustee, and with a failed lawsuit against the NCAA.
Wolf served as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Revenue from 2007 to 2008 and was probably best known before the campaign for leading the York-based Wolf Organization, which manufactures kitchen cabinets. Wolf holds progressive opinions on most issues, including pro-choice, pro-union, and anti-death penalty positions. Wolf is running on increasing education to public schools by at least $1 billion, while increasing the state’s share in public school spending from one-third to one-half. He likely plans to find that money by increasing the income tax on the wealthy and an additional severance tax on the gas industry, but Wolf hasn’t been specific on those details.
Wolf’s critics would point to his inexperience in statewide politics, with his only real leadership coming briefly in the Revenue Secretary role nearly six years ago. Some would also point to his unusual primary victory — Wolf was down in the polls for most of the early campaigning but ultimately won after loaning himself $10 million of his personal funds, which was largely used on television advertisements.
US Representative, District 5
Kerith Strano-Taylor has her work cut out for her if she wants to stop three-term Congressman Glenn Thompson. A Democrat hasn’t won the district since 1973, nor has one come within 15 points in more than a decade. Either way, District 5 will be represented by a Penn State graduate after tomorrow.
Thompson was elected as Pennsylvania’s Fifth Congressional District’s representative in 2008, and has handedly won both times since. The former healthcare executive holds traditional conservative views on virtually every issue, including cutting government spending and simplifying the tax code. He is also the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Subcommittee on Forestry, Conservation, and Energy.
Strano-Taylor has never run for statewide office, although she was elected and currently serves as president of the Brookville Area School Board. She started her own family practice law firm in her hometown of Brookeville after graduating from Penn State and George Mason. She is running on broad principles like mitigating the gridlock in Congress, compelling more women to run for public office, and strengthening public education.
State Senator, District 34
Corman, who has served as a state senator since 1999, is running unopposed. The Penn State graduate is currently the Appropriations Committee chair. He scored an 89% on the American Conservative Union’s scoreboard for the most recent legislative session. Corman is one of many people to sue the NCAA after it sanctioned Penn State — in his case, it’s to use the $60 million fine only for Pennsylvania programs instead of national endeavors. He also likes swimming pools.
State Representative, District 77
Conklin, a former Centre County Commissioner, has served as a state representative since 2007. The former carpenter is probably most recognized statewide for his failed bid for Lieutenant Governor in 2010 on Dan Onorato’s ticket. He serves on numerous committees including the Higher Education subcommittee, on which he is the Democratic chair. Conklin has gotten involved in Penn State governance, introducing a bill to restructure the Board of Trustees and hosting a public meeting on similar reform. He also has a delightful head of hair.
Martin, a Penn State senior who is hosting his campaign website on his personal university webspace, is challenging Conklin as a libertarian candidate. Not much is out there on the political newcomer — he declined comment in a Daily Collegian centerpiece that ran yesterday — although the newspaper cites another interview with CNET where he says pension reform is one of his primary concerns. His campaign website states his view that the purpose of government is to “protect people and their property from harm, whether it is violence, vandalism, or pollution.”