Observer-Reporter - In 37th Senatorial District, we endorse Guy Reschenthaler

  • October 31, 2015

After serving just a little over two years as a senator representing the state’s 37th Senatorial District, Matt Smith announced in May that he would be departing in order to become president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. This means voters in the district, which includes Peters Township along with Bethel Park, Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair and other parts of Allegheny County, will be picking a short-term replacement Tuesday to serve out the year remaining in Smith’s term.

They have two strong candidates from which to choose. First, there’s Democrat Heather Arnet, a Mt. Lebanon resident who has served as the CEO of the Women and Girls Foundation advocacy group for the last 12 years and is a former member of the Pittsburgh Public Schools Board of Directors. And there’s Republican Guy Reschenthaler, a former district judge and U.S. Naval officer in the Judge Advocate General Corps.

If she is chosen by the district’s voters, we believe Arnet would be a thoughtful and adept legislator, thanks to her service on the Pittsburgh school board and her leadership of the Women and Girls Foundation, which champions public policy initiatives designed to help women. We also appreciate her support of a severance tax on the Marcellus Shale industry, a levy that has been applied in all other states where natural gas drilling is taking place.

However, we believe voters in the 37th District would be better served by choosing Reschenthaler.

Arnet’s campaign has tried to portray Reschenthaler as an uncompromising right-winger, specifically highlighting comments he made on a friend’s podcast to suggest he would like to cut Social Security and Medicare. But those two federal programs are outside the state Senate’s purview, and Reschenthaler adopoted moderate stances in an interview with our editorial board. Citing his judicial background, he said he would seek the middle ground if elected, bringing the reason and balance he has used on the bench to the state Capitol.

Reschenthaler also recognizes the importance of the pension crisis that is due to swallow up more and more state money and could lead to additional credit downgrades. He suggests new hires be shifted into something more akin to a 401(k) program. Moreover, he comprehends the continuing absurdity of the state’s antiquated system of wine and liquor sales. He says the system should be privatized, because the sale of alcohol is not a “core function of government,” and he’s absolutely correct.

Voters in the the 37th Senatorial District have made a habit of sending moderate, commonsense Republicans to Harrisburg, such as Tim Murphy, who was a state senator for six years before becoming a congressman, and John Pippy, who served the district for almost a decade before departing to lead a coal advocacy group. We hope Reschenthaler follows in their footsteps. If not, we – and the voters of the district – will be able to make another choice just 12 months from now.

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