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Lebanon County commissioner challenges Corbett’s handling of Sandusky case, joins governor’s race

A commissioner from Lebanon County says she’s running for governor in part because of how Tom Corbett handled the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal when he was the state’s attorney general.

Democrat Jo Ellen Litz was in State College on Monday and visited the Centre Daily Times offices. She hopes to be in the field for the state’s top office in 2014.

“Our children were let down,” Litz said. “He was in a position both as attorney general and as a member of the board of trustees at Penn State to do something, probably more than anybody else. It weighs on my heart.”

Litz said the Attorney General’s Office took too long in bringing charges against Sandusky, which didn’t happen until after Corbett was elected governor in 2010. She said Corbett did not talk to key people at Penn State, including head football coach Joe Paterno and then-president Graham Spanier.

Corbett was similarly criticized in 2012 for the pace of his investigation of Sandusky as Kathleen Kane ran a successful bid for attorney general.

Litz is chairwoman of the executive committee of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

She said of Corbett: “I respect the office and I respect him as a man, but I part ways on many issues.”

Litz joins a Democratic Party field that already includes two former Rendell administration Department of Environmental Protection chiefs — John Hanger and Kathleen McGinty —as well as U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, of Philadelphia, and former state revenue secretary Thomas Wolf.

State Treasurer Rob McCord has been mentioned as a possible contender, and state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, has said he has been contacted by supporters about running for governor.

With Corbett facing low approval numbers, the Democrats’ field is sure to grow.

Litz made her formal declaration to run July 2, about a week after McGinty joined the chase. Others had announced earlier.

“I’ve heard about as many as 10 people, some who have announced and some who haven’t,” Litz said. “Although the primary election is a year away, rather than wait until after the first of the year, I realized that now is the time to get involved.”

Litz said points of focus for her campaign include limiting “unfunded mandates” for programs at the county, municipal and school district levels; investment in science and medical research; revising tax rates; enhancing education and supporting county courts and prisons.

Her website is www.joellenlitz.com.

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