Thompson makes Bradford stop during ‘Great American Comeback Tour’

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., talks to a crowd Thursday evening during a campaign tour stop at Togi’s Restaurant.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson addressed a campaign stop Thursday evening in Bradford, sharing his views on several issues to a packed room at Togi’s Restaurant.

It was one of 16 stops on what he calls “The Great American Comeback Tour.”

Thompson, a Republican from State College, seeks to retain his seat, currently in Pennsylvania’s Fifth Congressional District. He’s unopposed in the May primary election.

Three Democrats are seeking the nomination to run against him, but a new district map could disqualify two of them.

“I believe the rest of the United States owes a debt of gratitude to Pennsylvania,” he said, explaining the the commonwealth’s early founders fought for ideals such as personal liberty and religious freedom.

Thompson believes Pennsylvania played a central part in what he said is a national comeback “that happened on election night of 2016.” Now, he said, unemployment is at a 45-year low and consumer confidence is at a 17-year high.

He applauded the role Pennsylvania voters played in getting President Donald Trump elected and talked about his personal interactions with the president.

“There is an internal president and an external president,” said Thompson, noting that the internal president “is a leader that I appreciate.” He called Trump “very engaging,” and said, “He just wants to get things done.”

He presented a photograph of himself with Trump to McKean County Republican Chairwoman Stacy Sorokes Wallace.

Before taking questions, Thompson said, “Let me deal with the 900-pound donkey in the room with redistricting.”

A new district map unveiled Monday by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would make a large portion of the area that is now the Fifth District a new 15th District. The new map resulted from the court’s ruling that the current lines were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to benefit the GOP.

“The state Supreme Court is creating a constitutional crisis,” Thompson said, noting that “only the state House and Senate can draw lines,” and while there is a process in which the court can step in, he indicated this wasn’t it.

He said there are scales “to measure gerrymandering, and we are not gerrymandering,” while noting that two “funny looking” districts in the Philadelphia area were drawn that way to “meet the needs of the Democrats.”

Thompson also said the redistricting process hurts military personnel from the district by making it more difficult to get their ballots here in time to be counted in the primary.

“This needs to get sorted out,” he said.

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One attendee was concerned that conventional oil drilling companies will not have a way to dispose of water used in their process, and Thompson agreed to reach out to the federal Environmental Protection Agency about the issue.

Another person asked how Thompson would do on the issue of school shootings.

“To me, it starts with the family,” said Thompson. “We’ve had a breakdown in the nuclear family, a breakdown in the church.”

As a former school board member, Thompson recalled what it felt like having to expel students. He wondered, “Have we done some type of warm handoff?” and suggested that the issue comes back to the mental health system and the “culture of violence.”

Thompson said, “I think it’s time to put a uniformed, armed police officer in every school.”

When someone asked about Trump’s plan for the wall between the U.S. and Mexico, Thompson responded, “The first responsibility of anybody in office is safety and security,” and explained that responsibility includes border security.

“This should not be a political issue,” he said.

When the topic turned to medical marijuana reaching Pennsylvania, Thompson said he’s not concerned about taking a derivative from marijuana and creating a medicine, but he does not support the way Pennsylvania has chosen to distribute the medication.

“I don’t understand why, if it’s medicine, we need a separate pharmacy,” he said. “To me, that’s a slippery slope to what happened in Colorado: recreational marijuana.”

The congressman said businesses are leaving Colorado because they can no longer find reliable employees. Also, he said there are many people fighting addiction who started with marijuana.

“It’s a gateway drug,” said Thompson, who noted that he is on a heroin and opioid task force and suggested that more long-term treatment centers are needed to help focus on treating addiction behavior.

Referring to treatments such as suboxone, he said, “We need something other than drive-by treatment.”

Thompson ended by sharing news about the federal government providing $17.5 million to battle an invasive pest that has moved into Pennsylvania.

He called the spotted lanternfly “beautiful,” but said, “This thing is a menace.”

It has reached 13 Pennsylvania counties and is bad news or plants including grapes, apple trees, pear trees and hardwoods.

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