Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner was in Bradford on Thursday, without any fanfare or public appearances on his schedule.
Instead, he was talking to people, seeing the area, learning about what’s here and listening to what people say is needed in Harrisburg.
“I think a governor who walks around and talks to people is necessary. The Good Lord gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason,” Wagner said. “You have to get around and talk to people” to find out what the problems are.
He was shown around by Mark Cline of Cline Oil. They toured American Refining Group and Graham Packaging, too.
“Mark set up a tour of some well sites,” Wagner said. He was impressed with what he saw.
“I didn’t see environmental issues,” he said. “Everything I saw was well done. There’s a lot of history here.”
He addressed the pending permit for Advanced Water Services LLC, a Texas company that wants to open a brine treatment facility on High Street in Bradford Township.
“We need to find a way to treat the water,” Wagner said. “We went out and visited with a company that is attempting to get a permit. What’s taking so long?”
Wagner said the permit should be approved or denied in 30 days.
“The gentleman who runs the company told me he’s doing this in other states. If I went there, or other people went there, to see (the operation working) and it’s a proven system, why is it taking so long?” he reiterated. “Everybody’s being vilified today by environmentalists.
“Sure, we all want clean air and water,” he said, but also offered there has to be a way for energy production to take place.
“I was actually very impressed by what I saw,” Wagner said. “There’s a mindset with the environmentalists that (companies are cutting corners). That’s not the case.”
He addressed education needs as well, saying he released a plan three weeks ago to put $1 billion into the school system without tax increases. He said $700 million will be through the 2016 school funding formula, while the remainder is block grant money for which school districts can apply.
“The most important thing is we have a skilled-labor crisis in Pennsylvania,” Wagner said. “We need to retool, reinvent our school system. Our kids today are all being pushed to college.”
Now, students in 10th through 12th grades are being talked to about career paths. Wagner believes students in fourth through sixth grade should be in on the discussion.
Wagner said a governor’s representative will go to every county to do an assessment of the schools. And maybe, he suggested, it might be prudent to consolidate some in areas where some schools are underperforming.
“I think people are not starting to realize we have way too many schools in an area,” he said. “We need to start having some honest conversations, but we also have to move fast. Someone is successful in their life based on the education they have.”
In these conversations with districts, maybe the governor’s representative can learn about roadblocks to success in areas where the governor is able to help.
“Education is vital,” Wagner said.
He explained, too, that he is a blue collar man, and as a state senator, was always considered approachable by constituents. He said he doesn’t have million-dollar donors to his campaign, but as a son of a farmer, he’s proud to have 10,000 donors who have given between $1 and $100. He said he feels like he’s neck-and-neck in the race with incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf. But he doesn’t feel it’s a partisan race. He has Democratic supporters, too.
“People care about what’s going on in their life and their community,” Wagner said. “I might be sitting here with my ‘Scott Wagner for Governor Republican’ shirt on. When I become governor, I put on my ‘Scott Wagner for the People of Pennsylvania shirt.’
“This polarizing politicking needs to stop,” Wagner added. “It’s not serving the people.”
The election for governor will take place on Nov. 6.
Wagner is running with Jeff Bartos for lieutenant governor. Wolf is running with John Fetterman for lieutenant governor instead of current lieutenant governor Mike Stack.
Wolf’s campaign released a statement regarding Wagner’s candidacy on Thursday.
“Scott Wagner has been doing business in Harrisburg for 35 years — he’s the ultimate Harrisburg insider,” the statement read. “He’s prevented big oil and gas from paying their fair share, supported tax loopholes for giant corporations, and even called seniors the greediest generation and wants to tax their retirement for the first time in history. Scott Wagner is for the big guys, not for Pennsylvania families.”