Harrisburg’s largest daily newspaper has endorsed Gene Stilp over Congressman Lou Barletta in the race for the newly-gerrymandered 11th Congressional District. Telling readers to “give Gene Stilp a chance,” the Patriot’s editorial board says that Stilp’s activism “makes sense for the 11th District.”
There have been many people running for higher office against incumbents based almost solely on what they are against.
They are clear about what they oppose but far less clear on what they would do in office to make our state or country better.
That is not the case in this year’s congressional race in the 11th District, which stretches from Wyoming and Luzerne counties down to the edge of Cumberland County because of a massive redistricting shift.
For those fed up with both political parties and the seemingly misplaced priorities of leaders, voters in the district have a real choice. There is Republican congressman Lou Barletta from Hazleton, who is best known for his time as mayor of Hazleton in 2006 when he enacted ordinances targeting illegal immigrants.
Barletta’s ordinances would have penalized landlords who rented to illegal immigrants and employers who hired them.
Then there is Democrat Gene Stilp, a Middle Paxton Twp. resident who is best known for traveling around the Harrisburg area with a giant inflatable pig to protest government excess. He also was part of the group that constructed the Lady Liberty statue on a rock in the Susquehanna River in the 1980s.
While Stilp’s antics are offbeat, there is substance behind them. After Pennsylvania lawmakers enacted a late-night pay raise in 2005, plenty of people were outraged, but Stilp was the one who filed the lawsuit and won part of the state Supreme Court case against the method used to award the pay increases.
When the Bonusgate corruption case erupted, it was Stilp again who stepped up and filed a case to recover the illegal funds paid. He has spent the last several decades calling out lawmakers at all levels of government for their misdeeds by raising public awareness through his stunts and by working the legal channels.
On the issues, Stilp is a moderate. He champions higher education and job creation, including protecting central Pennsylvania’s military bases. While he supports the Affordable Care Act, he wants to take a look at its impacts on small businesses, and he vows not to raise taxes on small businesses and the middle class.
Barletta has taken a more moderate tone since his days as mayor, which is more in keeping with this area’s politics. He is the safe choice.
Nonetheless, we believe Stilp offers voters an opportunity to send a message to Washington with someone who is not only against the mess that is now Congress but is also someone who has proved over and over he is for good government.
That is why Gene Stilp has earned our endorsement. We understand there is a difference between being a political activist and a good congressional representative.
We think Stilp also understands that and has the potential to represent the district well and bring needed activism for good government to Washington.