State Rep. Frank Ryan, a Republican, faces Democratic challenger Calvin “Doc” Clements in the Nov. 3 election for the 101st state House seat.
Clements is a retired veterinarian. Ryan, the incumbent, is a CPA and retired colonel. He has been in office for four years.
The seat covers the City of Lebanon; North Cornwall, North Londonderry, South Annville, South Londonderry, West Cornwall townships and Mount Gretna, Palmyra and Cornwall boroughs.
Each candidate answered nearly a dozen questions on a variety of topics — including the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, and police reform — for the Pennsylvania Voters Guide.
Here’s a sample of how the candidates answered some of the questions:
What is the top issue facing the commonwealth, and how would you address it?
Clements: “Debt is the major issue facing the state in the midst of the pandemic. I propose we cut the legislature in half which could result in a savings of $1 billion in salary, benefits and perks. I also will work to rescind the major corporate tax breaks the legislature has given corporations which could yield $3.5 billion in revenue annually. I would introduce legislation that would ban unfunded pensions for all state employees and legislators.”
Ryan: “Our financial problems such as unfunded pension obligations, severe budget shortfalls, revenue mismatch and lack of financial discipline within the executive branch are profound and will create financial chaos unless solved immediately. Financial reforms, budgetary controls, out of control property taxes and solving complex budget shortfalls is the most critical problem facing our Commonwealth. Without changing our spending, PA is within 12 years of becoming insolvent and we are now within 2-4 years of having to make the difficult decisions necessary to prevent insolvency. If we fail to take these actions within the next 2-4 years, the financial solutions will be so severe that the political will would not be there to solve them, and our insolvency would be guaranteed. I know how to prevent that from occurring.”
How do you plan to reduce the spread of coronavirus in Pennsylvania and prevent future outbreaks?
Clements: “We must follow the basics: social distancing, washing hands, limiting gatherings, and wearing masks. Mask compliance is low in Pennsylvania and that must change to save lives and our economy as well. We need to accelerate testing and tracing and invest in personal protective equipment to reduce spread. Future pandemics can be prevented with a predetermined apparatus for pandemic response. This should be determined by the legislature to help streamline the next response.”
Ryan: “Pa must be more transparent with the data, the application of the data, be more inclusive about solutions. We must be establishing a trusting relationship with our citizens and REOPEN the Commonwealth while protecting those who are vulnerable. I spent 28 years on a hospital board of directors of the hospital and its affiliates and you must consider the entire impact of disease mitigation efforts and not just one. In my USMC Career, in which I retired as a Colonel, I served as a Commanding Officer of a Civil Affairs organization which was responsible for reestablishing governmental controls in military operations. As such, I believe wholeheartedly that the working with the medical community, educational institutions and families to ensure our health is critical. Long term medical conditions and the survivability of the infrastructure necessary to ensure the long term health of our communities and our Commonwealth is based on engagement of all parties especially our citizens.”
The pandemic has cost government agencies billions of dollars. How can the government pay for these services and balance the budget? If a tax increase is needed, whom would you tax?
Clements: “The economic shortfall from the pandemic will be large. I believe it will be necessary to increase taxes, though not across the board. The legislature has in the past 30 years given the top 1-2% and corporations a major pass on fiscal responsibility it is time that they pay their fair share by closing tax loopholes and taxing all forms of income so that the financial sector contributes to the Commonwealth like the rest of us.”
Ryan: “I will not support a tax increase. Government must live within its means. Too often government has exempted itself from the financial discipline that we all have had to endure at home and in business. The bills I have introduced (and in many cases had passed) are dealing with financial reforms, going lean and addressing the cost drivers of government. As Vice Chair of the PSERS Board as a legislative member, our financial reforms proposed in the legislature will have significant impact on reducing costs to the system which reduces the unfunded liability and therefore the property tax burden on all citizens.”
What further police reforms are needed to address issues of racial bias and police brutality?
Clements: “We can both support our police and reform policing methods at the same time. We must update the requirements for education on all new officer hires. The education must be heavily weighted in social and psychological training with an emphasis on dealing with diverse populations. We must add social workers to regular police department staff and raise wages to justify the increased requirements for employment as a member of law enforcement.”
Ryan: “First such losses of life are so very sad and for that I pray daily for peace. Our police forces are superior and I support our police. The difficulties they face daily with such an unsettled population are more traumatic than military personnel see in combat zones. We must provide support for our police in such trying times to include greater access to PTSD counseling and help. Most importantly, we must provide greater school choice for parents for their children so that the cycle of poverty can be broken where we have failed schools. Creating opportunities for all citizens with access to quality education is key.”
What makes you the best candidate for this office?
Clements: “I am the candidate in this race who understands the science of Coronavirus and is best equipped to lead us safely and prudently out of this crisis. My opponent believes that we should haphazardly open the state and he does not take into account the costs of a resurgence of the virus and the explosive costs it would inflict on the state’s finances. Beyond the pandemic, I vow to represent working-class residents of Lebanon County who have been left behind by legislators who represent the ends of the economic spectrum without concern for the vast middle class.”
Ryan: “My experience as a CPA who specializes in keeping organizations out of bankruptcy is particularly needed now that the Commonwealth is experiencing such critical financial issues at the state, county, municipal and school districts government levels. We must reverse the trend of outmigration of young workers and companies if we are to grow our state. My experience is well suited to the challenge.”