U.S. Senate candidate McGinty speaks at Ag Progress Days luncheon

Candidate for the U.S. Senate Katie McGinty speaks during the luncheon at Ag Progress Days on Wednesday.
Candidate for the U.S. Senate Katie McGinty speaks during the luncheon at Ag Progress Days on Wednesday. adrey@centredaily.com

Katie McGinty knew who her audience likely was Wednesday afternoon as she chanted “We are” to a group of people who shouted back “Penn State.”

The Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania made her way to Ag Progress Days to speak at a luncheon about why she is running for Senate and what she hopes to accomplish if she defeats incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

“I have confidence we can tackle tough problems and get stuff done,” she said.

Her about 15-minute speech laid out what she hopes to accomplish regarding college affordability, job retention, and Social Security and Medicare reform.

She also talked about ways for farmers to be successful.

McGinty said the commonwealth leads the country in food processing that takes raw products and puts them through “state-of-the-art” food processing facilities located in the state. It’s also an industry that McGinty said employs thousands of people and contributes to local communities.

But it’s something she said she wants to build on.

“We know agriculture is a huge and important engine of this economy,” she said. “It’s those good jobs and need for good paying jobs, which is the reason I jumped into the Senate race.”

She also shared her background with the audience saying her parents raised 10 children on the salaries of a policeman and a mother who worked in a restaurant.

That, she said, isn’t doable in this day and age, but that hard work can pay off with help of the right education and/or training.

That’s where college affordability comes into play so people can be prepared for a career, she said.

“We’re not about a handout, but we’re about a hand up,” McGinty said. “I’m so pleased to see the dollars being brought back to public colleges in this (state) budget. Because let’s get real … 10 percent of the cost of college coming from public support? That’s a burden on families and students. We need to invest in public colleges and universities, and I will fight for those dollars. But then also fight for things like tax credits so that kids can realize their dreams without bankrupting themselves, their families.”

She also said she wants to improve workforce and job training, and skill development for people who get out of high school and go into the workforce.

“To me, a great country doesn’t just buy and consume stuff; a great country makes and builds stuff,” McGinty said. “And I think it’s a bunch of baloney that we’ve been told we can’t compete in manufacturing because manufacturing is about technology, and Penn State is second or third in the country for engineering. … Put that technology together with a skilled workforce and look out world, we will compete and win.”

And once building those skills, McGinty also said it will bring people to work and to rebuild infrastructure — a dual benefit for individuals and communities.

John and Marcia Barney, who live in Huntingdon County, said they are both registered Republicans, but like McGinty’s fight for the middle class.

They attended Ag Progress Days to see just what she had to say.

“We like that she can relate to the blue-collar folk,” John Barney said after McGinty spoke. “It’s the kind of family we are, and the kind of families in central Pennsylvania, and we want to give her a fair shot before we vote, and we like a lot of what she’s saying.”

Britney Milazzo: 814-231-4648, @M11azzo