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Candidates outline their positions ahead of Tuesday’s primary and special election

Where is your polling place for the primary and Pa. special election?

A special election for Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District will be held May 21, the same day as the primary election. Here's what to know about candidates and where to find your polling place.
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A special election for Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District will be held May 21, the same day as the primary election. Here's what to know about candidates and where to find your polling place.

Editor’s note: In the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s primary and special election, readers have submitted their letters endorsing candidates. With days left before the election, candidates were invited via a note on the CDT opinion page to send letters outlining their positions. Their responses are below.

12th Congressional District

‘Moving forward, making progress, and thinking about the big picture’

I’m running for Congress and I’m asking for your vote on May 21st to protect the values that my wife Becky and I are teaching our daughters.

I believe we’re called upon to leave behind a better world for our kids. That means moving forward, making progress, and thinking about the big picture.

It means protecting programs that help every American live and retire with dignity: Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

We need to invest in critical infrastructure like roads and bridges, our power grid and cybersecurity. We need to protect our environment and natural resources.

Every American deserves an equal chance to succeed regardless of what ZIP code you were born into.

We need to invest in primary through higher education, and ensure that everyone has high-speed Internet access. That will help stem the brain drain holding our economy back.

These are values we share and are passing on to our children. The problem is that the politicians we’re sending to Harrisburg and Washington have failed us.

They lack leadership — and vision.

They’re too busy playing it safe, looking at polls and not busy enough actually working.

I decided to run for Congress after looking at my wife Becky and our two daughters and realizing that doing this, right now, right here, is the best thing that I could do to help create a better world for them. That’s why I’m running. I’m going to keep fighting for them, and for you, when I’m in Washington.

Marc Friedenberg, State College

‘I’m running for Congress to ensure others have ... freedom to succeed’

Campaigning across the 15 counties in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District, I’ve had the chance to talk with countless families, workers, and small businesses about the issues that matter to them. More than anything, the people of central and northeast Pennsylvania care about making sure they have good-paying jobs so they can provide for their families. I get it. While I grew up poor, my family refused to let others define us. Through hard work and education, I rose from working in a factory to running a $50 million-dollar-a-year manufacturing business. And while working my way up at Conestoga Wood Specialities, I also started and ran a successful small business in residential property management and remodeling. Thanks to this great country, I was able to rise from very humble beginnings to now serving my fifth term in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. I’m running for Congress to ensure others have this same freedom to succeed. To create this opportunity, we need to advance pro-growth policies that will allow businesses to create jobs and provide workers with family-sustaining wages. I support making the middle-class tax cuts permanent, investing in infrastructure, including broadband internet to our rural communities, funding workforce development and job training programs, protecting health care and social security, and making sure that our veterans receive the care they earned and deserve. I encourage you to visit my website, www.FredKellerforCongress.com, to learn more. I humbly ask for your vote on Tuesday, May 21.

Fred Keller, Snyder County

Centre County Commissioner

‘Passion and desire to make a positive difference’

Controlling the purse strings of the county and policy setting are the primary responsibilities of a County Commissioner. I am respectfully, prayerfully, and humbly asking you, the citizens of this county, and my bosses, to hire me once again. My platform of controlled spending and lower taxes, provision of more affordable housing, and the maintenance of a healthy balance between county growth and environmental preservation will be my focus. The knowledge and experience I would be able to bring to that position, as well as my passion and desire to make a positive difference in the lives of others, means I cannot sit idly by when I now have the opportunity and the energy to serve again. If God is willing, and the people of the county are willing to hire me again, I would like to bring my 10 years as county administrator, my 12 consecutive years as an elected County Commissioner, and experience working in industry, education, and business as a realtor back to the table. Please consider giving me your vote on May 21st.

Vicki Wedler, State College

State College Borough Council

‘Three E’s: Environment, Economy and Equity’

With the May 21 primary around the corner, I would like to first thank everyone who has supported my candidacy for State College Borough Council. Your support and encouragement has been uplifting!

For those who would like to learn more about who I am and why I am running, please visit www.behringfortheborough.com. There you can also find out more about my platform based on the Three E’s: Environment, Economy and Equity. Policies to support the integration of these important elements of a sustainable community are at the heart of my platform ... the “home” I want to help build. The three E’s depend on a foundation of fiscal responsibility, supported by pillars of communication and transparency, all under a roof of inclusion.

As your Borough Councilwoman, I will bring decades of experience as a public servant and community leader, as well as years of work with Penn State University. With degrees in economics, public policy, and communications, I pledge to listen, integrate ideas, and help lead a transparent decision-making process.

Twenty years ago, my husband and I sought out a community that was caring and unique to raise our two daughters. We are so grateful that we found State College and moved here to live, work and raise our children. I want State College to be as safe, rewarding, and enriching for future generations as it has been for me and my family.

I look forward to the opportunity to serve you on the State College Borough Council.

Deanna Behring, State College

State College Area School District Board of Directors

‘Continue to ... refine our stellar programming’

When I initially joined the State College Area School District Board of School Directors, my focus was ensuring the high school building project reach a successful conclusion. Now our community is only a few months from celebrating that milestone and I am reflecting on how much has changed for me during my term. The knowledge I have gained the past three plus years gives me pause — there is so much more to running a school district than I ever imagined.

As a trained scientist, I was experienced in research-based, data-driven decision making. However, in my time on the board I have developed expertise in many topics aside from education — psychology, sociology, equity, learning differences, finances, school law, policy development, communications, collaboration and community engagement. There is nothing I would like more than to continue leveraging that knowledge and those skills on behalf of our children and our community. With the preparation my first term has provided, I desire nothing more than to continue to work with the board to refine our stellar programing while maintaining the excellent fiscal health of the district and respecting all the needs of our community of taxpayers.

I believe we have an obligation to provide the best education possible to every child, while nurturing all aspects of our students. This is the SCASD mission: To prepare students for lifelong success through excellence in education.

I would greatly appreciate the community’s support and vote in the election on May 21.

Amy Bader, State College

‘Passionate about political participation’

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve on the SCASD Board of Directors for the past four years. The amount of information and knowledge needed in the position of School Board Director is overwhelming and after four years I feel I have the expertise to make knowledgeable decisions.

I am passionate about political participation and have been since I participated in a high school Bicentennial Competition on the Constitution and Bill of Rights. I have a Masters in Public Administration and experience working in local government. I understand the process of collaboration, negotiation, and teamwork. With a school board of nine members, such qualities are essential.

I proudly represented the former PA-05 U.S. Congressional district in the recent Pennsylvania gerrymandering case which ultimately resulted in fair congressional maps for the 2018 and 2020 elections. I received a Thaddeus Stevens Award for my participation in the case which reads, “For your fortitude in restoring the right to have all votes count in Pennsylvania.”

I am passionate democracy at the local level and believe that the greatest impact occurs closest to home. I will always meet with any citizen about any issue, and am happy to do so. Hearing from citizens, whether at public comment at a board meeting, over coffee, or while going on a walk together, is my favorite aspect of being on the school board.

Please vote on May 21st and I am excited to serve for four more years!

Gretchen Brandt, State College

‘High expectations for our schools’

Over eight years serving on the SCASD Board of Directors, I have been so grateful to be part of a community that cares deeply for the education and well-being of children.

We have high expectations for our schools, academically and in nurturing the growth and development of our children as they face a rapidly changing world. This means we need to be continuously evaluating our curricula, pedagogy, and learning results. Our board and district staff are prioritizing this evaluation and improvement, and are following through on a strategic plan that addresses achievement gaps and growth for all students.

Careful planning and budgeting by the board and district staff over the past decade since the financial crisis of 2008 have secured a strong financial position for the SCASD. We now have one of the highest bond ratings in the state (indicating strong fiscal health), and a capital funding plan to meet future facility needs. This effort was made possible by disciplined planning over this time period, and the support of a community that voted overwhelmingly in favor of funding the new State High building project.

Working in this role for the past eight years to learn as much as possible about effective educational leadership, I have been able to gain perspective and understanding on such diverse areas as student learning, school climate, public budgeting, facility planning, employee relations, and community engagement. I hope to be able to continue using this experience to provide our students with the best educational experience possible.

Amber Concepcion, State College

‘Continue to advocate for the educational experiences of all children’

On May 21, I will be one of five incumbents seeking re-election to the school board in the State College Area School District. I am a retired educator from this district, with 35 years of experience as a school psychologist. I would like to ask for your vote on either the Democratic or Republican primary ballot.

Our district has accomplished a great deal during the years I have been honored to serve.

In addition to working on the completion of the high school buildings, we were able to obtain several grants and partial state reimbursement to help defray the costs for the construction of three elementary schools already planned for replacement. We have brought all of our elementary schools into the 21st century, though this required a time-sensitive response to grant opportunities that had a very brief window.

The board has researched and approved a significant expansion of elementary learning opportunities that are enhanced by staff development and STEM programs. We have supported efforts to meet the district’s mandated responsibilities for gifted education. And crucially, we have strengthened our systems to provide early intervention along with the staffing needed to support the behavioral and mental health of our students.

These are just a few achievements that represent the tip of the iceberg of all that has been accomplished, while minimizing tax increases for the community.

I would appreciate your vote on May 21, so that I can continue to advocate for the educational experiences of all children in our district.

Daniel Duffy, State College

Bald Eagle Area School District Board of Education

‘I want to ensure the students receive the best educational experience possible’

As an alumnus of the Bald Eagle Area School District with three children currently advancing through the BEA school system, I am excited to be running for a seat on the Bald Eagle Area School Board. Many things have changed and evolved since my time at BEA. It is important for the school district to not only progress with the times, but to be leaders in how to deal with these changes so the students are guaranteed a quality education. First and foremost, I want to ensure the students receive the best educational experience possible. This includes ensuring each student and teacher has support and access to the best technology and learning resources available. Secondly, the safety of the students, teachers, and staff needs to be of utmost importance. I want to work with the school district to establish a safe and comfortable environment for the students to learn and teachers to educate. Finally, we need to recruit highly educated and innovative teachers to allow the curriculum to advance to match that of larger districts. The students at BEA deserve additional class choices and educational opportunities to prepare them for their future endeavors. Declining enrollment is an issue within our school district, but Bald Eagle Area can be progressive and competitive so it can attract new students. In closing, I want to help further establish an effective, safe, and competitive school district to help ensure that Bald Eagle Area remains a great place for students, staff, and families.

Adam Frank, Worth Township

Centre County Treasurer

‘I believe in serving gladly’

I’m Colleen Kennedy, and I’m seeking election for treasurer of Centre County. I live in State College with my husband Rob and our cat Abby. I’ve worked in accounting for about a dozen years now. While studying accounting, I supported myself by working as an accounting clerk for the controller of a small consulting firm. I was then recruited out of my college program to work in government as an auditor. I’ve also volunteered as treasurer for nonprofit organizations. For the last seven years, I’ve worked in the accounting department of a local manufacturing company.

My first priority would be modernization. Expanding electronic processing of transactions, as businesses have done for years, would save resources and cut costs, allowing the treasurer’s office to offer more to county residents: more transparency, more services, and more convenience. I would follow the example of other counties in the commonwealth that now offer online options for submitting forms and payments. I would also utilize the office of the Treasurer to keep residents informed about valuable financial programs, like the recently launched Keystone Scholars program, which gives $100 to new parents in Pennsylvania as seed money for their child’s education savings.

Serving as Centre County Treasurer would be an opportunity to use my skills in service to my community. I believe in serving gladly, and I would bring this attitude to every aspect of my service to you as Treasurer. I ask for your support on May 21 and again on Nov. 5. Thank you.

Colleen Kennedy, State College
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