WILKES-BARRE — Undecided Democratic voters in the 119th Legislative District can hear what the two candidates have to say at a forum Wednesday at Luzerne County Community College.
Incumbent state Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Newport Township, and challenger Tony Bonomo, a Hazleton Area school director, will be featured at the forum sponsored by the Wilkes-Barre League of Women Voters at 7 p.m. in room 131 of the Education Conference Center on the LCCC campus, Nanticoke.
Mullery, 43, is seeking his third term.
Mullery and Bonomo have squared off before. In February, Mullery charged that Bonomo attended a petition-signing party for Mullery and signed a petition under a different name. Bonomo said he couldn’t recall if he signed the petition or what name he might have used.
Mullery also challenged Bonomo to two debates before the primary and the two will now appear at one forum on Wednesday.
Bonomo, 55, said a key issue is the property tax rebate.
“I often wonder why it has not been increased from the $650 it is presently at, especially since taxes have risen yearly,” Bonomo said. “Why not raise it to $800 and make more people eligible.”
He said he would fight for the increase to help senior citizens. Eliminating taxes, he said, would only cause a shifting of the tax burden to another group of tax payers.
“I would not support anything until I saw a solid plan to eliminate property taxes completely,” he said. “If elected, I would support raising the limits so that the seniors, disabled and widowers would benefit.”
Bonomo said he will also take issue with the PACE and PACE NET programs, prescription assistance programs for older citizens.
“I often wonder why these have not been adjusted to keep up with the rate of inflation,” he said. “I would support the funding of these programs by increasing the sales tax by one percent.”
Mullery said the main issues are the development and retention of family-sustaining jobs, property tax reform, quality education and safe neighborhoods in which to raise their families.
“In addition to these issues, I have led legislative reforms addressing the General Assembly including elimination of per diems, contribution toward health benefits, reducing the size and cost of the legislative body and campaign finance reform,” he said.
In his first two terms, Mullery said, he only missed one day of work, and his office is consistently one of the 10 busiest district offices in the state. He said his legislative outreach program has been well received throughout the district.
“By years end, we expect nearly $1 million in property tax and rent refunds will be received by local senior citizens who applied for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program through my office,” he said.
Mullery said he has compiled a consistent voting record and his advocacy for his constituents is unparalleled.
Bonomo said his experience as a school director for the past seven years at Hazleton Area has given him an understanding of the value of a good education.
“A good education is essential to our most valued possession — our children,” he said. “I would never support the cutting of education funding.”