Challenger LeGrant says he's 'destined' to oust Klunk

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Kiem LeGrant, Democratic candidate for the 169th District state House seat.

Kiem LeGrant, a West Manheim Township Democrat, said he is "destined" to oust three-term incumbent state Rep. Kate Klunk in 2020, even while unable to lay out specific policy proposals in a recent interview.

LeGrant, the vice president of the York County Young Democrats, is challenging Klunk, R-Hanover, next year in the dark-red 169th House District. Klunk easily retained her seat in 2018 with 70% of the vote.

This time around, however, LeGrant hopes to buck that trend despite lacking concise policy proposals. His leadership qualities instilled by his military veteran parents and interest in local politics make him fated to hold office, he said.

"I'm not just one of those people that runs on a single issue or because of a single cause," LeGrant said. "I'm running because this is the thing I was destined to do." 

In an interview Thursday, Sept. 5, the Democrat said his best bet to oust Klunk in the 2020 election is to focus on boots-on-the-ground campaigning and aggressive fundraising efforts.

But when LeGrant listed a variety of policy priorities — including property tax reform, business regulation reform and race relations — the specifics of how he would address the issues were unclear.

"Eliminating (property taxes) all-in-all is cute to say, but it makes it to where folks are going to have higher taxes in other ways," LeGrant said of GOP proposals to completely eliminate property taxes collected by school districts. "They're going to look at their paycheck and it's still going to be the same."

More:West Manheim Twp. Democrat to challenge Klunk in 2020

LeGrant's team is already drafting legislation that would give relief to seniors' share of property taxes, he said, although it was still early in the process and lacked specific details.

The Democrat also spoke of throwing more state support behind unions and loosening business regulations "within reason," but he didn't specify what he deemed reasonable beyond a hypothetical program.

"The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle," LeGrant said. "I think businesses would benefit if (regulations) were loosened a little more. Perhaps some kind of program where a small business could be in it for five to 10 years, and if they perform well, some of those regulations could be lessened."

Rep. Kate Klunk, of the 169th Legislative District, speaks during the fourth installment of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission's York Town Hall Series at Guthrie Memorial Library in Hanover, Thursday, July 11, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

LeGrant went on to criticize Klunk for failing to build "community cohesion" in the district, namely citing her "vague" response to racist flyers targeting Hanover Mayor Myneca Ojo in March, an incident that prompted a state forum by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Klunk should address racism more aggressively and talk about race relations in the community more often, LeGrant said. In regards to policy, he proposed implementing some sort of initiative that would have schools better familiarize their students with those of different races and cultures.

The opioid epidemic is another topic LeGrant said was integral, asserting communities should take a more localized approach to find out how opioids are getting into communities and how to stop them. He did not, however, detail what the measures would look like.

The 169th District includes multiple southern York County municipalities. Klunk did not respond to inquiries for comment by deadline.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.