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Republican Rep. Brett Miller will stand for re-election for a second time against Democrat Michele Wherley to represent the East and West Hempfield areas of Lancaster County in the state House of Representatives.

Election 2020

The District: The 41st is mostly made up of suburban voters and is part of the county that has continued to diversify in recent years. This race is a repeat of 2018, with Democrat Michele Wherley challenging three-term Republican Brett Miller after losing to him by 7 percentage points two years ago. Although Democrats have seen some registration gains in the district, Republicans still outnumber Democrats by more than 7,000 voters.

Represents: Manor and Conestoga townships; portions of East Hempfield, West Hempfield, Manheim, and Lancaster townships; and all of Mountville Borough.

Candidate: Brett Miller (incumbent)

  • Party: Republican.
  • Age: 59.
  • Residence: East Hempfield Township.
  • Occupation: Legislator since 2015; previously a school guidance counselor for 26 years.
  • Education: Liberty University, Bachelor of Science in pastoral counseling; Liberty University, Master of Arts in counseling; Millersville University, secondary school counselor certification; Penn State University, secondary principal certification.
  • Family: Wife Jennifer.

1. Why are you running? What is your pitch to voters?

I am running because I want to use my 26-year background in public education, as well as my experience in local government, to advance policies that benefit the people of the 41st District. I am running to protect taxpayers by fighting for property tax relief, finding ways to control government spending, and making sure government lives within its means.

I will use my experience as a public school educator to advocate for an education system that is fiscally and academically strong, and one that provides expanded educational opportunities for students.

Finally, I am running to continue advocating for policies that make Pennsylvania a more welcoming place for businesses and job creators to locate, stay and grow, thereby creating even more prosperity and more family sustaining jobs.

2. What are your priorities to help the state recover from the economic and human toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken?

We must prioritize the health of the people, help our businesses recover and find ways to safely get our people back to work. I have voted to ensure that our health care systems are strong, our medical workers are properly equipped, and our hospitals are given the necessary tools to meet the medical needs of the community.

I have also voted for better oversight of our nursing homes to protect our seniors. From a mental health and drug abuse standpoint, the human toll of the shutdown has been dramatic. Our service providers must be given the necessary resources to enable them to meet the needs of many hurting people.

Economically, the toll has been devastating, as many of our businesses have closed their doors and 4.1 million workers have filed for unemployment compensation. Businesses must be given adequate finances and flexibility to remain solvent and regain solid footing. For the unemployed, my office has and will continue to fight for everyone who has yet to receive a dime of their unemployment compensation.

Finally, I will continue working with my colleagues to pass legislation that allows employees to safely get back to work.

3. Can you briefly describe what you would do to address what residents have told us are the issues they are most concerned about: health care, the state budget and school property taxes? Given the 200-word limit, you may choose to respond to a single topic instead of all three.

During the pandemic, the majority of the calls to my office are from people who are having problems with Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation system.

Prior to COVID-19, property tax reform was the number one issue that I heard about. I have been working with my colleagues to find ways to achieve meaningful property tax reform. I voted for a bill which would have reduced property taxes for every homeowner by 30-40%. This bill passed the House with bipartisan support but failed to advance in the Senate.

A recent legislative proposal that would reduce property taxes by 50% eventually leading to total elimination was derailed due to COVID. I will continue advocating for property tax reform, the passage of which will help all our citizens — especially our seniors on a fixed income and our young families who are getting established.

4. Surveys show that partisanship is increasing and people of different political views are growing less trustworthy of one another. How will you seek to build bridges to voters who don’t support you or share your views?

While it is true that many believe there is an impassable divide between those who have different party affiliations, this is more perception than reality. Over the last two sessions, 96% of the bills that passed the House received bipartisan support. Only about 4% of the bills passed along straight party lines.

Most would expect that those percentages would be reversed. In fact, there is much collegiality, give-and-take, friendly discussion and compromise that occurs.

Though there are at times differing viewpoints, I welcome all ideas, listen carefully, extend respect to those who offer input, and work collaboratively to find ways to move Pennsylvania forward. One example of this is my work with Democratic State Treasurer Joe Torsella, with whom I am working to advance pension fund fee transparency legislation.

None of us has all of the answers, and our common goals are much greater than our differences. By working together, we can and will find solutions to the problems we face.

Candidate: Michele Wherley

  • Party: Democrat.
  • Age: 52.
  • Residence: Lancaster Township.
  • Occupation: Human resources manager.
  • Education: Central Penn College, Bachelor of Science in communication.
  • Family: Husband Jim and son Brandon.

1. Why are you running? What is your pitch to voters?

My campaign is focused on the issues that affect our neighbors most: Economic security and living wages, fully and equitably funding public schools from pre-K to college, and protecting our environment and Lancaster County land heritage.

2. What are your priorities to help the state recover from the economic and human toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken?

COVID-19 is a cruel virus that spreads illness and death and creates chaos in our lives, with the impact falling unequally on our population. While it’s important to alleviate the economic impact, we must first deal with public health. Rapid testing, tracing and isolation of persons with positive tests is critical and should be ongoing.

In Pennsylvania, we spend $13 per person on public health. The national average is $36. If limited funding is hindering our response to COVID-19, the administration should seek additional funds, and the General Assembly should provide them.

If we want a stronger economic recovery, we should get money into the hands of people who will spend it. Middle class wages are stagnant; many families are living paycheck to paycheck — sometimes working multiple jobs and still not making ends meet. We must address the immediate challenges these families face. We could do that by beginning to work toward achieving a $15 per hour minimum wage.

It would be very helpful to receive some federal relief in the form of a stimulus that invests in infrastructure. Pennsylvania could then utilize that federal stimulus money for much needed infrastructure improvement projects, such as high-quality broadband access.

3. Can you briefly describe what you would do to address what residents have told us are the issues they are most concerned about: health care, the state budget and school property taxes? Given the 200-word limit, you may choose to respond to a single topic instead of all three.

School property taxes go up because Pennsylvania is failing to support public schools. We need to make sure that Pennsylvania puts more of its money on the table rather than just yours. The vast majority of kids in the 41st are educated in public schools, and we are doing them a disservice by not funding education appropriately.

We must fully adopt the Fair Funding Formula because it solves the dual problems of underfunding of our schools and the inequity of that funding. We should also stop funding outside cybercharter schools with public dollars until these schools are held to the same accountability standards as our public schools.

4. Surveys show that partisanship is increasing and people of different political views are growing less trustworthy of one another. How will you seek to build bridges to voters who don’t support you or share your views?

All of us are increasingly living and working within our own echo chambers, where our own views and ideas are constantly being reinforced. This is why I think it’s vitally important to interact with people who have different ideas and positions and who challenge us to see situations through a different lens.

I think that many of the disagreements we have can be solved with more of an “and/both” approach, rather than an “either/or” approach. People should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. We may have different policy positions, but we all have the same values and want to achieve the same goal: a stronger Pennsylvania for all of us.