John “Herm” Suplizio doesn’t need a new job; he’s the city manager of DuBois. He doesn’t have a lifelong dream to work in Harrisburg.
What he does have is a drive to stand up for rural Pennsylvania, a resume filled with public service and a belief that rural Pennsylvanians are the backbone of the state.
In the June 2 primary election, Suplizio, 60, is seeking the Republican nomination for the 25th Senate District seat from which Sen. Joe Scarnati, R-Brockway, is retiring. Other candidates seeking the Republican nomination are Jim Brown and Cris Dush. Margie Brown is the lone Democrat seeking her party’s nomination.
“I want to bring back to the 25th District what needs to be brought back,” Suplizio said. “I want to make sure we get our fair share. I don’t want those people in Harrisburg to forget that rural Pennsylvania is the backbone of this state.”
Suplizio was visiting Bradford on Wednesday, taking a tour of the downtown and spreading the message of the issues he finds important, including caring for the elderly, strengthening and funding fire departments and other emergency services and making sure the rural parts of the state have quality infrastructure like broadband internet.
He talked about job creation, and how DuBois has found some success in that endeavor.
“We worked with Rescar in DuBois,” he explained, “we helped with renovations and remodeling,” both of which brought in jobs.
WhiteWave Foods, now Danone North America, was brought in, along with a few hundred jobs. And the city has helped with projects at Paris Cleaners and Penn Highlands DuBois hospital.
“We created a lot of jobs in probably the last 20 years,” Suplizio said. “The things we’ve done in DuBois I would like to bring to rural Pennsylvania.”
He explained the water and sewer rates were restructured in DuBois around the elderly. While a lot of municipal authorities set the rates by household, DuBois sets them by usage. The elderly tend to use less, and therefore, pay less.
Regarding the fire departments, Suplizio explained he’s been a member of a volunteer fire department for 42 years and had served as chief in the past.
“We have to figure out how to make sure they are taken care of so they don’t have to go out and do chicken barbecues all the time,” he said. “They work all day and then they’ve got to do a bingo at night and train also. We need to figure out how to curtail that and make sure they’ve got enough funding.”
Suplizio was elected mayor of DuBois in 2000 and has served as borough manager since 2010. He’s been a longtime friend of Scarnati, and said he feels that makes him stand out among the slate of candidates.
“I’ve talked to Senator Scarnati’s staff. They aren’t going anywhere. We can hit the ground running,” Suplizio said. “Joe and I are good friends and he’s not going anywhere. I can lean on him and ask ‘how can I get this done.’ That’s what I bring to the table that other candidates don’t.”
That, and service in a day-to-day municipal government position where he’s dealt one-on-one with constituents, solving problems.
“We see the streets that are going bad. We’ve been touched by everyone.”