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95th House candidates focus on experience, education

Sean Philip Cotter, and David Weissman
York Dispatch
  • Seven candidates are vying to fill the Democratic ballot slot for the 95th House seat.

Candidate hopefuls for the 95th House seat focused on education, taxes and redistricting when asked about their political priorities.

Shawn Mauck, Edquina Washington, Carol Hill-Evans, Don Hake, JP Kurish and Brian Pendergast have all put in their names for the Democratic spot on the ballot for the 95th State House seat.

York City Council President Hill-Evans, West York Borough Council President Mauck and Washington, the city's director of community relations, publicly announced their candidacies last week for the seat, which came open when incumbent state Rep. Kevin Schreiber announced Aug. 4 he would stop seeking re-election, leaving the local Democratic Party to choose who will replace him on the ballot in November.

Hake, Pendergast and Kurish spoke to The York Dispatch on Monday after the local party said the trio had submitted paperwork to announce their intentions for the ballot spot.

The 95th district covers York City, Spring Garden Township, West York, North York and part of West Manchester Township. Joel Sears, a Spring Garden Township businessman, has the Republican nomination for the spot.

Hake: Hake, a business broker in the city, said he wants to work on securing more state funding for public education.

Don Hake

“Whenever there’s an issue with education, the state passes legislation to pass the bill on to local districts,” he said. “Then they get to say, ‘I didn’t raise your taxes — re-elect me.’ It’s hypocritical.”

A lifelong York County resident, Hake lived in Dover for most of his life but now lives in York City. He has 32 years of experience as a business broker and works for DYH Business Brokers in the city. He said that has informed how he'd operate politically.

“I can raise hell,” said Hake, who ran in 2004 as a write-in candidate for the 196th House seat. “But I’m also a compromiser. I don’t get paid until deals are done.”

Seven people interested in 95th House seat

Hake wants to eliminate property taxes and gerrymandering and have every candidate pledge not to accept money from special interests.

Pendergast: City resident Pendergast, another person vying for the ballot spot, has worked in real estate for 27 years, right now at Century 21 Dale Realty.

Brian Pendergast

“I think I can make a big difference with my experience,” said Pendergast, who has never held or run for public office before.

As the chairman for affordable housing on the York County Board of Realtors, he pushed forward an affordable housing program that caught on nationally, he said.

He hopes to eliminate school property tax, which he believes would help the city grow immensely, he said.

Kurish: James "J.P." Kurish, who was a reporter and editor for The York Dispatch from 1993 until 2002, disagrees about property taxes. Though he acknowledges they're a significant burden for some people, he called the idea to get rid of them and shift the taxation to higher sales or income tax "crazy."

But like the other would-be candidates, he stresses schools as one of his top priorities, saying he'd focus on "education and crime and the interconnection between the two."

He said he wants the state to tax shale drillers more, and he would like to see money from that and other sources directed into education funding.

Kurish, who lives in York City and works for the state Senate Democratic Caucus in Harrisburg, ran for the 28th State Senate seat in 2006 against then-incumbent Republican Mike Waugh and got "quite a shellacking," he said, adding that it was a tough, exacting experience.

"It’s kind of like meticulously planning a wedding for six or seven months, knowing you're gonna be stood up at the altar," he said. But in the time since then, he has worked for and with the state party, helping underdog candidates try to find footing, he said. Kurish said he believes that gives him an advantage in both experience and goodwill from the state party.

Kurish said the way districts have been created is a huge issue, and he would like to have an independent committee to make sure they aren't created to favor one party or population over others.

York County Dems mum on Schreiber replacement

Forum: All six prospective candidates will participate in a forum Wednesday night hosted by the local Democratic Party. The event is slated to help determine the party's choice to run in place of Schreiber, who dropped out of the race earlier this month to take a job as the president and CEO of the York County Economic Alliance. After Schreiber, York County's lone Democrat in the state Legislature, dropped off the ballot, the Democratic Party accepted letters of intent from the candidate hopefuls.

Election 2016 Logo

The party's public forum to interview the candidates is scheduled for 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Bond building, 134 E. King St. Immediately after that, the party will choose one of the candidates to put on the ballot. Former York Dispatch reporter and editor Christina Kauffman will moderate the forum.

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

— Reach Sean Cotter atscotter@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.