KINGSTON — When Aaron Kaufer ran for the state House in 2012, he lost to a veteran Democratic lawmaker who was seeking her 12th two-year term.
He won’t have that kind of opposition this year, if he wins the Republican nomination for the 120th District seat. State Rep. Phyllis Mundy of Kingston is retiring when her latest term ends in January.
Kaufer, 25, took the first step toward that nomination when he announced his candidacy to a crowd of more than 100 supporters Tuesday evening at the Black Diamond American Legion.
In his speech, Kaufer stated his priorities if he is elected: redoing redistricting to make races more competitive; ending the partisan divide in Harrisburg; limiting legislative terms and benefits; increasing funding for pre-schools; redesigning the education grant system; eliminating property taxes, and allowing tax credits for businesses that use natural gas.
He said because legislators redistrict to make districts safe for their party, there are fewer competitive races.
“It is at the heart of all of our problems, the problems we’re facing,” he said afterward.
“For too long, we’ve listened to too much political bickering,” he told the crowd.
Kaufer, a marketing representative for Mohegan Sun, also said if he is elected, he would serve a maximum of only eight years. He said at 10 years, a “massive pension” kicks in for lawmakers.
“I will not accept a pension, and I will not accept pay raises or per diems,” he added.
He said education could improve with more early education funding, special education tort reform and finding better ways to spend current state dollars.
Because he said school property taxes are a burden on the community, he supports Senate Bill 76, which would replace property taxes with a sales tax.
“Everyone should be invested in education, not just property owners,” Kaufer said. “Our seniors are paying the price, and teachers are getting the blame for it.”
He also suggested reducing welfare rolls by encouraging businesses to hire people on the welfare rolls for more than they were making but less than the company would pay other workers.
In his speech he also congratulated Mundy on her retirement and thanked her for her years of service.
Meanwhile, several Democrats have announced they intend to run for the seat. Mundy has endorsed her former legislative assistant, Eileen Cipriani, a member of West Wyoming Council since 2008, to replace her. The others are: Democrat Gary Mack, a Wyoming Valley West math teacher and a councilman in Edwardsville; John Bolin, owner of Flowers by Lucille and a member of the Wyoming Area School Board, and Drew Salko, 31, of Jackson Township, a real estate consultant and an auditor in Jackson Township who is a nine-year member of the Lake-Lehman School Board.