HAZLETON – The woman who unseated a seven-term House majority leader in an upset election two years ago easily fended off a challenge from a 29-year township supervisor for her seat in the 116th Legislative District on Tuesday.
Republican incumbent Tarah Toohil will serve another two years as state representative for the Hazleton area after outpolling her challenger by a 2-1 margin.
Unofficial results show the freshman incumbent getting 14,603 votes, which was 67.1 percent of the votes cast, to Democrat Ransom Young's 7,130 votes.
I'm just feeling honored and privileged to be able to continue to serve the district in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. It's something that I've never taken for granted, Toohil said during a victory celebration at the Hazleton Elks Lodge.
After defeating Democrat Todd Eachus two years ago in a bitter election, Toohil, 33, of Butler Township, emerged victorious from a campaign muddied by personal attacks.
A 28-second video of still photos posted to YouTube showed Toohil with others at a pizza party that included what appeared to be drug paraphernalia. Toohil responded to the photos, saying she is no longer the woman depicted in the nearly 15-year-old photos, and advised teens that using drugs isn't acceptable.
She also faced turmoil over a trip she took to Israel funded by a $2,500 gift from the Jewish Federation and her own funds. Toohil said she took the trip on her own time and it proved to be highly educational.
While distancing himself from the YouTube video, Young seized on the Israel trip and raised questions about her decision to go.
But on Tuesday, Young had nothing negative to say.
Hey, things happen. If this is the very worst thing that happens in my life, I'll have made out pretty well, Young said. It is what it is. I'm certainly not angry. I met so many wonderful people in the district during the campaign.
Young, 59, of Butler Township, was also in good spirits, given that he became a grandfather for the first time on Monday.
As for Toohil, she has plans for the next two years.
She wants to work to bring more jobs to the Hazleton region and the state by working to lower the state's corporate income tax, close the Delaware Loophole tax dodge for out-of-state corporations that operate in Pennsylvania, and end unnecessary regulations on businesses.
She also plans to work on strengthening education initiatives, especially programs that provide job training.