Two Republican candidates will face off in the primary election May 20 to find who will win the nomination for the 117th legislative district.
Eight-year incumbent Rep. Karen Boback, Harveys Lake, will go up against newcomer and Tunkhannock-area eye doctor Davis Haire. Davis or Boback will compete for votes in the largely rural district that spans west from Interstate 81 past Tunkhannock and down to Hunlock Creek including most of the Back Mountain. Parts of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming counties fall within the district that contains 670 square miles and about 62,000 people.
Haire, 61, a Bradford County native who lives in Meshoppen, said grassroots support for his campaign has been strong so far.
Haire is campaigning on the notion Harrisburg needs more “citizen legislators,” and drawn-out terms ultimately lead to heavy-handed lawmaking.
“The only way to break that cycle is to bring in new thoughts,” Haire said. “I think career politicians continue to create greater and greater bureaucracy, which is a huge stumbling block to the American way of life, especially here in Pennsylvania.”
Boback disagrees with the label it appears Haire has crafted for her, saying she was an elementary teacher in the Tunkhannock Area School District and then a college professor for 33 years before seeking state office.
Further, she sits on the House Appropriations Committee, and tenure there can be helpful she said.
“The longer you’re there, the more expertise you gain,” Boback said.
Haire said he would vote against any tax hikes for individuals and look to craft a corporate tax structure that is not overly burdensome on industry growth.
Haire, who was formerly married and father to two children, has been practicing optometry in Tunkhannock for 30 years.
He would run a transparent district and use skills he has learned as a health care provider while in office, he said.
“My patients come to me with a problem. We find out what the problem is and formulate a solution. If it doesn’t work, we modify our plan and move forward,” Haire said. “What a wonderful concept to institute into government.”
Boback, too, says works to maintain a transparent district and always has listed her home phone number in the phone book, a practice she started when teaching elementary school.
Eliminating property taxes is a top priority for her. And developing new programs that are useful and that offer practical knowledge back in her hometown also is important, she said.
Boback, 62, was born and raised in Throop. She has been married to Bernard “Buz” Boback for 40 years and they have two grown children.
“I guess you can say my knowledge of these counties, my educational background and the expertise I developed over the past seven years as our representative makes me a very qualified candidate,” Boback said.
Whoever wins the primary will face Democratic candidate Laura Dickson, a Wyoming County auditor, in the November general election.