Wagner kicks off campaign tour at Penn Waste facility
Sen. Scott Wagner will be traveling across the state campaigning for governor during the next four to six weeks, and he started his tour Monday at a Penn Waste facility.
The owner of the Manchester Township business was the first Republican to officially declare for the 2018 gubernatorial race, which now also includes Paul Mango, a retired business consultant in Pittsburgh.
Wagner's campaign has dubbed the series of appearances as a listening tour — #WagnerListens was displayed on a sign on the podium where he spoke — though he did not include time during the half-hour rally to take questions from attendees.
Wagner did speak to supporters one-on-one after the rally before traveling to Harrisburg, where budget negotiations were ongoing.
Campaign spokesman Jason High said the listening is going to take place in the tour in the form of roundtable discussions — one of which he held before the rally — and visiting various businesses.
Wagner said he's looking forward to meeting new people and hearing their concerns and ideas for the state.
He's highly opinionated about what the state's problems are, he said, but he wants to make sure all residents' voices are heard.
Response: Beth Melena, a spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party, criticized Wagner for not addressing whether he would support federal changes to health care currently being discusses in Congress.
"If Scott Wagner actually listened to the people of Pennsylvania, he would hear their concerns about 'Trumpcare,' which will increase health care costs for hard-working Pennsylvanians, strip coverage from people with pre-existing conditions, force seniors in nursing homes onto the streets with nowhere to turn, cut off health care access to women and halt our battle against the opioid and heroin epidemic," she said in a statement.
Wagner said he expects to hear complaints about school property taxes, the heroin/opioid epidemic and business-killing regulations. During his speech to about 50 supporters at the rally, he vowed to completely eliminate property taxes if elected.
Supporters: One of the supporters present was Larry Gladfelter, a former York County businessman now residing in Adams County.
Gladfelter, a lifelong Republican, said he appreciates Wagner's tenacity and believes he's the right person for governor because he works for the people rather than himself.
Dave Hogg, CEO of Springwood Hospitality, said he supports everything Wagner does.
"He's one of those rare people you do a million-dollar deal with on a handshake," Hogg said. "He does exactly what he says he's going to do, and that's so rare to find in a politician."
Wagner has invested in several of Springwood's hotels, according to his Statement of Financial Interest, which politicians are required to submit each year.
Regulations: Hogg said he expects Wagner, during his tour, will hear small business owners complain about burdensome state regulations.
For example, Hogg pointed out that his company's new Tru by Hilton hotel should have been open in Manchester Township by now, but the opening date has been pushed back to October because the state Department of Environmental Protection held Springwood's plans for months before informing them they needed to make several changes.
Hogg suggested that state agencies should treat businesses more like customers, a suggestion Wagner has made several times in the past.
Wagner said his tour would include a stop in Philadelphia, where he recently tried to hold a hearing on the city's soda tax. The hearing was stopped amid loud protests by supporters of the tax.