More than 200 of York's community and business leaders turned out for the Rotary Club of York's candidate debate for the 4th Congressional District, but something was missing: half of the candidates.
Democrat Harry Perkinson and Independent Wayne Wolff fielded several questions written by Rotarians, giving positions on a range of topics from bipartisanship to the tax code. Absent were state Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, and Libertarian Mike Koffenberger.
The debate was held days after Perkinson and Koffenberger issued press releases complaining that Perry has been or will be absent from several opportunities for debate.
Rotary member Mike Summers, who moderated the debate, said both Perry and Koffenberger had obligations they couldn't reschedule and there was no other date suitable for everyone.
Summers read a statement for Koffenberger, saying the police officer had a required training session from which he couldn't be excused. Perry, days after Perkinson issued his press release, said he couldn't attend the debate because he's a colonel in the National Guard and Wednesday was a required military day from which he would not ask for leave.
Both Perkinson and Wolff were given 90 seconds to introduce themselves and discuss their reasons for running before Summers asked how each would employ bipartisanship.
Moderate Democrat: Perkinson, a 60-year-old engineer from York Township, identifies as a moderate Democrat. He said he became frustrated with what is “truly a do-nothing Congress,” and he believes in applying ideas to problems to find the best ways to solve them.
Neither party, he said, has a monopoly on good ideas.
He said he wouldn't, if the Democrats regain control of the House, advocate for former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to take the job again.
Perkinson said she's “a lightning rod” as a speaker, and he would suggest a middle-rank legislator to take the leadership position.
Not beholden: Wolff, a 60-year-old North Hopewell Township resident, is a Baltimore native who joked he's a “carpetbagger.”
An account representative for Baltimore Gas and Electric, he said he's running because his family was affected by the economic downturn and he hasn't been happy with the manner in which either party has negotiated the recession. He said he's in favor of smaller government and is “pro-business,” and so would likely caucus with Republicans.
He said his role as an Independent, though, would help him promote bipartisanship while avoiding being beholden to either party.
Differences: Wolff and Perkinson shared few similar responses during the hourlong debate.
While Perkinson said investments in infrastructure, education, and research and development are needed to improve the economy and eventually reduce debt, Wolff said it's necessary to make major cuts and reduce spending in many areas of the federal government as quickly as possible.
Wolff said he was opposed to “bailouts” of companies and that there is no “too big to fail” company. He said the government shouldn't have intervened and, while the “meltdown” would have been painful, the market would correct.
Perkinson used one of his two “rebuttal” cards to address those remarks, saying the Troubled Asset Relief Program was essential or the economy would have collapsed. He said it saved jobs, and people probably wouldn't have been able to withdraw money from ATMs if TARP hadn't been approved.
— Reach Christina Kauffman at email@example.com.