State Sen. Dave Arnold Jr., whose district includes part of York County, dies at 49

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
Lebanon County District Attorney Dave Arnold, the Republican nominee for the 48th Senate District Seat.

State Sen. Dave Arnold Jr. died Sunday at the age of 49 after a 15-month battle with brain cancer, his family announced.

Arnold, R-Lebanon, took the oath last January to represent the 48th Senatorial District, which includes all of Lebanon County and parts of York and Dauphin counties.

He replaced Mike Folmer, who resigned in September 2019 after being arrested on child pornography charges. 

After winning the Senate seat, Arnold said he looked forward to diving deep into issues that concerned central Pennsylvania residents the most. 

More:Republican Dave Arnold wins Senate race to replace Folmer

 “I’m ready to get to Harrisburg, and I’m looking forward to getting into the issues most important to the people in southcentral Pa.,” Arnold said last year. “I’m just trying to do all the right things for the right reasons for everybody in the district."

Arnold beat out Michael Schroeder, a Democrat and history professor at Lebanon Valley College, with 64.7% of the vote. Republicans have held the seat since 1963.

Arnold previously served as Lebanon County’s district attorney for 14 years.

He largely campaigned on property tax reform and supporting Second Amendment rights.

He was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer shortly before he took office, according to his Facebook page. 

In June, Arnold sponsored his first Senate resolution to declare the month as Cancer Survivors Recognition Month.

"There are a lot of cancer survivors out there, and I consider them all heroes," Arnold said on the Senate floor in June. "To all survivors, I just want to say 'thank you.' You give those who are afflicted the strength to keep fighting on ourselves."

In lieu of flowers, Arnold’s family has asked that contributions be directed to the Penn State Cancer Institute. 

Donations can be made by visiting Penn State Health's website.

In response to Arnold's death, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the commonwealth flag at all government facilities, public buildings and grounds to fly at half-staff.

Wolf said in a statement  Sunday that Pennsylvania lost a "great public servant."

“Dave was a dedicated public servant and conscientious leader who put the people of his district first, always," Wolf said. "He fought hard every day for his constituents, even while he was fighting a terrible disease."

Other Republican leaders across the state also reacted to the news of Arnold's death.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, and Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said in a joint statement that the party lost a "good man and committed leader much too soon."

“From the moment voters sent Dave to Harrisburg one year ago, he worked tirelessly for his constituents and the commonwealth," the statement reads. "This was not a surprise to anyone who knew him. It was a continuation of a record of public service marked by independence and integrity."

Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, and Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre/Mifflin, also said in a statement Sunday that the entire Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus sends their condolences Arnold’s family.

“Throughout his career in public service, Sen. Arnold showed a relentless commitment to justice and advancing the betterment of Pennsylvanians," according to the statement. "His voice in the pursuit of what is right will be missed."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.