Pennsylvania 8th Legislative District primary election preview

The upcoming May 17 primary will be the first in Pennsylvania’s newly established House District 8, which includes portions of Lawrence and Butler counties.

Three candidates are running for the Republican nomination, while there are zero candidates listed on the Democrat side, meaning the primary winner will likely be the winner of the Nov. 8 general election.

More: Who is running at the 2022 Lawrence County Midterm Primary?

The three Republican candidates include incumbent Aaron Bernstine, New Beaver; Eric DiTullio, Lancaster Parish; and John L. Kennedy, Parish of Middlesex.

In Lawrence County, the district includes the parishes of Little Beaver, Perry, Plain Grove, Scott, Slippery Rock, Washington, and Wayne, and the counties of Ellport, Ellwood City (part of Lawrence County), Enon Valley, New Beaver, Volant, and Wampum.

In Butler County, the district includes the townships of Brady, Center, Clay, Connoquenessing, Forward, Franklin, Lancaster, Middlesex, Muddycreek, Penn and Worth, and the boroughs of Connoquenessing, Portersville, Prospect, West Liberty, and West Sunbury.

More: Election 2022: Your Guide to Pennsylvania’s Leading Candidates

Aaron Bernstin

Bernstine is seeking his fourth term, initially winning the 2016 election and being re-elected in 2018 and 2020.

He said he’s grateful for the support of his constituents, or his “bosses,” over the past five years and said he’s worked during that time to meet constituents’ needs to attract businesses to create jobs in the region , and laws passed improving the community and protecting the constitutional rights of all Pennsylvanians.

“For the past five years, I’ve focused on three main areas: constituent services, sound legislation, and promoting economic development,” Bernstine said. “We will continue to expand these efforts over the next two years of our tenure.”

Bernstine said reliance on property taxes to fund schools is an issue that needs to be addressed and wants to address that, saying he’s in favor of moving the state to a tax system like Ohio that allows taxpayers to pay for or to vote against any property tax increase.

Bernstine also said he is a strong supporter of tax cuts to help the state become more economically competitive, opposes the state’s joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and believes the path to creating a strong environment for the economic development through cheap, plentiful and reliable energy and wants local governments to work together.

John L Kennedy

Kennedy has served on the Mars Area School Board for 12 years and is in his third year as Board Chairman. He has also worked with the Mars Planet Foundation, Butler County Area Vocational-Technical School and other committee assignments.

He is a farmer and owner of two small businesses – a highland bird hunting ground for almost 30 years and a meat markets cooperative for more than 20 years.

Kennedy said if elected he would bring to Harrisburg his main conservative principles, such as being pro-life, a “fierce” supporter of the Second Amendment, supporting medical freedom, fighting government mandates, protecting the environment to advance through land conservation and advocacy for local, natural, fossil fuel resources.

He said he would rather see local control than state-mandated control, such as in local government, school districts and businesses, and said he would prefer to see a smaller form of state government overall.

Kennedy said he wanted to be a supporter and a voice for the district and stated he wanted to support both types of areas – the suburban areas and the rural and agricultural areas with farming and mining.

“I am there for them, the people in the community. I’m here to solve problems,” Kennedy said. “I’m here to support them, to be with them in the community.”

Eric DiTullio

DiTullio said that if elected, his top priority would be to look after the financial health of the Commonwealth, which he says has not been done.

“We need a long-term, non-political plan to address Commonwealth revenues and expenditures, which is a multi-year/multi-decade approach,” he said.

DiTullio served 12 years on the Seneca Valley School Board, four years on the Butler County Vocational-Technical School Joint Operating Committee, four years on the board of directors of Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV, and four years on the public school employee pension system.

“I have successfully used consensus rather than compromise to achieve results and I will use those skills to bring about positive change in Harrisburg,” he said.

DiTullio believes school districts should be given the flexibility to best tailor taxes to their district. Adequate long-term funding and planning by local governments will help with infrastructure needs, reduce the tax burden on businesses, and increase funding for career and vocational-technical training, including expanding secondary and post-secondary support should the state not join RGGI and invest in all types of energy sources and manufacturing for the economy.

“I support fracking and enable Pennsylvania to use its natural resources for the benefit of the Commonwealth,” he said.

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