Meeting John Hanger

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The 2014 Gubernatorial primary season may not have officially started yet, but that hasn’t stopped one man from getting out on the road to get the word out about his candidacy.  The man I speak of is John Hanger.  You may have heard about him recently after several news outlets wrote about his proposal to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize the possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana by 2017.  While I may have heard his name in passing, I myself hadn’t really paid much attention to him until last week when a friend of mine asked about Mr. Hanger’s chances.  Funny enough, last night I was informed that John Hanger would be stopping through Blair County and that he’d be in front of the County Courthouse talking to the public today and so I got a chance to meet the man himself and get a better sense of who he is and what he’s about.

Up to this point, all I’ve really heard about John Hanger is his stance on marijuana which is, really, not all that revolutionary.  People tend to get either really excited about pro-legalization candidates or they become suddenly diametrically opposed to them.  I’m not saying that John Hanger is going to be the guy for PA Democrats, but he’s got other ideas that I think are far more important to consider.

John Hanger, talking to news media down the street from the Blair County Courthouse

For one thing, he’s apparently focusing very strongly on public schools.  He pointed out that Governor Corbett’s crusade to steal money from schools (that’s my wording by the way, not his) not only adversely affects schools, but taking state money away from schools forces schools to have to raise taxes.  Meanwhile, schools are cutting classes that are – erroneously – viewed as extraneous.  Hanger also pointed out that several charter schools in PA have been accused of stealing money, but still hold their charters.  Beyond that, he states that 70% of charter schools in Pennsylvania are not meeting federal math and reading standards.  I haven’t been able to confirm that number specifically, but I did find that a recent study showed that PA is in the bottom three nationwide for charter school performance.

John Hanger would like to see the Pennsylvania state government contribute “close to 50% of education” funding.  He’d like to see Pennsylvania stop spending so much money on charter schools and to hold charter schools accountable just as we would any other school.

Hanger, talking with localsDuring the question and answer portion of his appearance a member of the local media asked him whether he thought it would be beneficial to him to be so specific in his policy ideas so early on.  Hanger said that he feels that voters are tired of politicians coming out with vague promises and no substance to back it up.  He pointed out that he’s currently polling 7 points ahead of Governor Corbett, although he also point out, “each and every one of you could be ahead of Corbett if you were polled.”

I can’t say that chances look great for John Hanger.  He seems like a nice guy and he’s got some really great ideas and the specifics to back them up.  If only that were all you needed to win a political race.  Hanger recognizes that he’s got a hard road ahead though.  When a local man wished him good luck Hanger replied, “You get lucky when you work hard.”

If you’d like to take a closer look at John Hangers positions, you can check out his website here.

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