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GOP: This is the new ‘occupation’

October 21, 2011

Republicans and candidates gathered Thursday the Bellamauro Social Hall in Reynoldsville for their annual fall banquet. Pictured are (front, from left) register/recorder Diane Maihle Kiehl; Judge John H. Foradora, auditor Maxine Zimmerman; (back) party Chairman Troy Harper, state Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, Sheriff Carl Gotwald, state House Speaker Sam Smith, auditor Roger Richards, district judge candidate Greg Bazylak, and incumbent commissioners Jim McIntyre and Paul Corbin.

REYNOLDSVILLE — Jefferson County Republican Committee President Troy Harper told party supporters Thursday that just as around the country, there is a movement growing close to home: It’s called Occupy Jefferson County.

But, he noted, it’s not like the other “occupied” cities such as New York and Pittsburgh.

“It’s not about New York City, it’s not about big government, and it’s not about sitting in a park and complaining about your life,” Harper told guests during the committee’s annual fall banquet at the Bellamauro Social Hall in Reynoldsville. “It’s about good people getting up, going to work, working hard during the day and providing for your family, and building a better county and community.”

Harper said Republicans saw a healthy primary election in the spring, elevating their candidates to the fall ballot. Now, on Election day — which is Tuesday, Nov. 8 — they need to get their friends and neighbors to the polls to put their candidates — some new, some incumbents — into office.

He also stressed how local offices — such as a school board, borough council or township board seat — help set policies down the road.

“Many day to day functions are formed on a very basic level” with local offices, Harper said. “It’s the way as ordinary citizens remain in charge: We the people, means we are the boss.”

A fairly unfamiliar face at Thursday event was President Judge John H. Foradora, mainly because his terms last 10 years, and he need not campaign.

However, in accordance with the state constitution, his name has been placed on the ballot for retention, or basically for another 10-year term.

Harper joked that judges are like a childhood toy: One plays with it for a while, then places it on a shelf, where it collects dust, until the child plays with it again.

“WIth retention votes, judges come down off the shelf and dust themselves off politically,” he said.

“WIth your help, I’ll be back on the shelf Nov. 9,” Foradora, of Brockway, said.

“It’s been an honor to serve you over the last 10 years,” he said. “Some days it seems like a weeks, sometimes, it seems like 20 years.”

Other speakers, such as state House Speaker Sam Smith and Greg Bazylak, whose is running for the district judge seat in the northern portion of Jefferson County, lauded Foradora’s efforts since he was first elected in November 2001.

As a former assistant district attorney now with his own practices on the defense side of the courtroom, Bazylak said, “We have a great, exceptional court system here.”

Also Thursday, a group of long-standing incumbents seeking re-election — commissioners Paul Corbin and Jim McIntyre, auditors Maxine Zimmerman and Roger Richards, register/recorder Diane Maihle Kiehl and Sheriff Carl Gotwald — did not offer individual remarks, but instead spoke of what Harper called “the Republican team” in Jefferson County government.

“We may be individuals, but we have one goal,” McIntyre said. “To do our best for the residents of Jefferson County.”

In his remarks, Smith said getting elected to public office is one thing, but working with others who may not share the same viewpoint — and still governing — is another.

He said he tries to teach new legislators with an eye for seeing the world in black and white that, “We may not have gotten into this mess overnight, and we probably won’t get out of its overnight either” without diligence, persistence and patience.

“The guys in this business who try to take the whole loaf hardly ever get it all,” Smith said. “But if you take a little bit today, you can maybe get some more tomorrow.”

In closing remarks, state Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati said something he has said throughout the 25th Senatorial District: The commonwealth and the country are in need of real leaders and real statesmen.

“We need a new leader and a new statesman leading the country,” he said. Also about President Obama, Scarnati said, “I admire the way he speaks. He makes you feel good. But where’s his vision? What’s his plan to lead the country?

About the economic struggle of today, Scarnati added, “The recovery will be when Obama is out.”

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