Amanda Betts – News Editor
CLARION, Pa- In the midst of the Autumn Leaf Festival festivities, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack visited Clarion in hopes to get the government more acquainted with smaller towns, focusing on local businesses and education. The speech was held in front of the Clarion Courthouse Oct. 5. Many community members were in attendance, as well as officers of the Clarion Police department. Pennsylvania State Senator Scott E. Hutchinson was also present, showing his support of Clarion. County commissioners Wayne Brosius, Ted Tharan and Ed Heasley also attended.
According to Stack, he has been working closely with Governor Tom Wolf on “building up smaller towns.” He explained that, towns like Clarion do not get enough attention from state government. One of Stack’s more recent projects, Pathway to Pardons, was at the forefront of his discussion. The movement intends to provide better opportunities for second chances for those convicted of nonviolent crimes. Pathway to Pardons will focus on helping to re-integrate those who have reached sustainable recovery into society, allowing them to get jobs and “feel welcomed in society,” Stack explained.
The Lieutenant Governor also pointed out that, in his opinion, far too much money goes into the prisons in Pennsylvania. “We should be working on getting them rehabilitated, and put that money into our schools and local government.”
Many community members expressed concerns for the wellbeing of their local and family businesses and inquired as to whether Lieutenant Governor Stack had plans to help them to stay in Pennsylvania, with larger companies often coming in and making it more difficult for smaller businesses to stay afloat. According to Stack, about 75 percent of jobs in the state are created from local businesses. He assured those in attendance that he intends for “less red tape and fewer obstacles” for those who work for small local companies.
While State Senator Hutchinson and Lieutenant Governor Stack disagree on some topics, being a republican and a democrat, respectively, both shared common ground. Stack explained that rather than focusing on the things “we disagree on, we should build bridges, and focus more on what we do agree on.” Senator Hutchinson echoed these beliefs, stating after the event that he was happy to see Stack visiting small towns like Clarion. “It’s always important to see the communities we live in,” Hutchinson said.
Following his speech at the courthouse, the Lieutenant Governor visited members of the community, also stopping to speak to students and faculty at the Clarion University communication department’s Media Day event, during which students from various communication organizations showcase their abilities for community members and fellow students. He also went to food stations that had set up for ALF, and was seen sipping a lemonade from one of the stands, chatting with the worker behind the counter. These interactions emphasized a statement Stack made during his speech earlier in the day; “I work for you,” he had said.