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Replacing Sen. Vance: 4 vie for Pa. Senate seat

Written by Flint McColgan, York Daily Record | Apr 7, 2016 2:00 PM

Four Republicans look to take over Sen. Pat Vance's seat when she retires at the end of this term. There are no Democratic candidates.

(York) -- One of the most crowded local races facing York County voters is for the 31st state Senatorial District seat, a position long held by retiring state Sen. Pat Vance, a Cumberland County Republican.

Four Republicans seek the seat to represent portions of northwest York County, from Jackson Township north to Fairview Township and most of southern and eastern Cumberland County from Cooke Township in the southwest to East Pennsboro Township in the northeast.

With no Democratic candidates in the race and no announced write-in campaigns, the Republican primary on April 26 could effectively decide the next state senator.

The four candidates responded to three questions pertinent to this election cycle:

  • What effect could a senator have in helping to pass a state budget more effectively than the 2015-16 budget, which was finally signed after a 9-month impasse?
  • What is their plan to deal with rising property tax costs while still preserving support for schools?
  • What spurred the to run for the position?

Brice Arndt

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Brice Arndt, a Camp Hill dentist, is running as a Republican for Pennsylvania state senate. (Photo submitted to York Daily Record)

About: Dr. Brice Arndt, 57, a resident of Wormleysburg in Cumberland County, is a dentist and owner of Camp Hill Dentist. He earned his doctor of dental surgery from the University of Minnesota, and has no previous political experience. Get more information at BriceArndtForSenate.com.

Budget: Arndt recalled an earlier time where he said legislators would have more floor debate from the rank-and-file than there is today. "We need to bring people together who have the solutions," he said. "I'm not an individual who is always looking to be a star quarterback." A mixture of more floor debate and leader negotiations could more effectively pass a budget, he said, adding that he would refuse pay if a budget is overdue.

Property taxes: There are many drivers that need to be addressed to lower education costs like state-mandated prevailing wage costs that he said drive up school construction prices. He also said he is working on developing a formula to protect older residents. It would take into account the number of years they have paid a property tax, their yearly income and their net worth to keep them in their homes.

Why run?: "The primary reason is that I'm fed up with Harrisburg," he said. "I just think Pennsylvania deserves better. Better jobs, better schools, better health care and, most importantly, better government." He said that the legislature will lose its biggest voice on health care issues when Vance, a nurse, retires. As a dentist and small business owner, he can fill that void, he said.

Scott Harper 

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Scott Harper is running as a Republican for Pennsylvania state senate. (Photo submitted to York Daily Record)

About: Scott Harper, 46,  is a Washington Township lawyer with a practice in West York. He earned his juris doctorate from Widener University School of Law, and he is currently the chairman auditor for Washington Township, an elected position. Get more information at ScottHarperEsq.com/Harper_for_Senate_Campaign_2016.

Budget: While people want a budget passed efficiently, he said he thinks "more can be gained from it passing with a struggle." He said more people pay attention to the budget when it's an issue and "it gives rise to lively debate on what should be funded and to what degree things should be funded, or not." He said if 45 days pass after the June 30 budget deadline, a $100 penalty per day should be imposed on each member of the legislature and the governor "for failing to do their job."

Property taxes: He said he would support eliminating property taxes and replacing it with a broader sales tax. He would also support a commonwealth-funded voucher program to implement market competition to create better schools.

Why run?: He said his platform is geared toward the goal of making Pennsylvania better. He supports legalizing industrial hemp, decriminalizing recreational cannabis, workers compensation and unemployment compensation reforms, the implementation of "standby services" so victims of domestic violence "can return to their homes to retrieve the personal property without being killed, welfare reforms among many other reforms.

Mike Regan

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Mike Regan is running as a Republican for Pennsylvania state senate. (Photo submitted to York Daily Record)

About: State Rep. Mike Regan, R-Carroll Township, 54, has served since 2013 in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives following a career as a U.S. marshal. He has a bachelor of science degree in crime and justice from Albright College, according to his state legislative profile. Get more information at ReganForPASenate.com.

Budget: Regan points to his own history as a representative who had "important bi-partisan legislation pass both chambers and signed into law by the governor" as proof legislators can cross party lines. But, he said, Gov. Tom Wolf's last budget proposal was not a serious one and Wolf should "change his tone."

Property taxes: One of the first steps, he said, is "fixing the pension issue." After that, he said, the current property tax system "must be replaced with a system that is more fair to homeowners." He said his goal is to eliminate property taxes.

Why run?: "This is where I was born and raised, and where my wife and I are raising our four children," he said. "I want them and our sons and daughters to have the same opportunities we had in terms of access to good paying jobs, quality educational opportunities and safe and affordable communities."

Jon Ritchie

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Jon Ritchie is running as a Republican for Pennsylvania state senate. (Photo submitted to York Daily Record)

About: Ritchie, 41, a resident of Hampden Township in Cumberland County, is a former NFL player for the Oakland Raiders and the Philadelphia Eagles. He has a bachelor of arts degree in English from Stanford University. He has no previous political experience. Get more information at Ritchie4Senate.com.

Budget: "I believe you can build consensus on important issues without compromising your values," he said. Additionally, he said he supports an amendment that would require the governor and legislature to go without pay until a budget is passed.

Property taxes: "The best way to address rising property taxes is to implement real pension reform," he said. "Unfortunately, despite the state Senate's efforts, real pension reform has been avoided in Pennsylvania. ... Because many elected officials won't vote to decrease their own benefit and also why I will not take a pension." He also said a fix must start with senior citizens.

Why run?: State Sen. Pat Vance "left incredibly large shoes to fill," he said. "My goal is to make our community an even better place to live, work and raise our families. I will fight to make our government more efficient and effective, strengthen our schools and work to ensure the government creates an environment that spurs job creation in our region."

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between York Daily Record and WITF. 

Published in Cumberland County, News

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