As the primary election nears, voters must decide which 93rd state House District candidate will do more than talk as a legislator in Harrisburg.
Ernie Merisotis and Kristin Phillips Hill — the two Republicans seeking the seat — say they are that candidate. Both are York Township residents.
"Talk is cheap," said Merisotis, 50. "People have property tax concerns. When we have 10,000 people a year in Pennsylvania losing their homes, that is an outrage. We have problems that will continue until this government is taken back by the people, by citizens, rather than politicians looking for a career."
Opponents: Merisotis, a member of the tea party group 912 Patriots, said his opponent will only continue the "political agenda" of Rep. Ron Miller, who holds the seat until the end of the year. Phillips-Hill, 48, worked as a part-time aide in Miller's district office, but resigned to run for the seat.
Merisotis, a U.S. Army veteran and local trucking company safety trainer, unsuccessfully ran for the 93rd seat in 2010 and 2012.
Phillips-Hill, a Dallastown Area School Board member, called Merisotis "a career candidate" who has much to say about what he thinks she intends to do in Harrisburg, while providing little information about how he would serve if he won the seat.
"I saw the same problems he did," she said. "Instead of complaining as he did, I actually did something about it. I got on the school board. We're holding the line on taxes and providing quality education. I've done something. It's a volunteer position. I average 25 hours a week with reading, educating myself on issues, attending meetings, school events, talking to parents."
Voters will decide in the Tuesday, May 20, primary whether Merisotis or Phillips-Hill will be the Republican on the ballot for the general election in November. Because there is no Democrat running for the 93rd seat, the primary winner might run unopposed in the general election.
Main issue: Merisotis, a former restaurant owner, said the main issue he wants to work on is property tax reform, as he supports House Bill 76, which would eliminate all school property taxes and replace the revenue with a combination of funding from income and sales and use taxes.
Phillips-Hill said she supports House Bill 76 as a "good start" to property tax reform, but the state also needs pension and school funding reforms, as well as the elimination of unfunded state-mandated school programs.
"Legislators pass mandates with initial funding for new programs, and then funding is eliminated and now you have to fund it with local taxpayer revenue," she said.
Change: No matter what issues Pennsylvania is facing, no real change can come until legislators change how they do business in Harrisburg, said Merisotis, adding he will not take a pension.
"Career politicians, that's what most of the people in Harrisburg are right now," he said. "The (state) constitution allows for salary and mileage and nothing more. They're violating the law with taxpayer-provided vehicles and using big pensions. With me, (voters) get a true conservative who's going to stay the course."
Merisotis said he would support term limits as a way to keep legislators from becoming career politicians, though he hasn't decided the maximum number of years they should be allowed to serve. He said he has not determined a limit for himself.
Phillips-Hill said she plans to limit her service to five two-year terms if elected. She also said she will not accept a pension.
"The ultimate term limit is every two years for the House of Representatives at the polling place, where voters send their messages from the ballot box," she said. "I am not a career politician. I've been a career volunteer."
Hill has a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in public policy, both from Rutgers University. Merisotis is a 1982 graduate of Christian School of York and in 1986 earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Shippensburg University.
— Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.