Democrat Dan McNeill and Republican candidates for the 133rd District House seat, outlined their qualifications and differences on questions that ranged from the economy to education during a debate taped Oct. 4 for "Tempo In Depth" at the PBS Channel 39 studio.
The segment, moderated by "Tempo In Depth" host Amy Burkett, will air Oct. 9, 12 and 14.
The 133rd incumbent, Brennan has been charged with drunken driving and assaulting his wife.
McNeill is a former Whitehall Township commissioner and executive. He touted a record of passing five years of balanced budgets without a tax increase. As a former manager of regional partnerships for Lehigh County, McNeill worked with 25 municipalities to secure grants. He is a leader for Ironworkers Local 36 and the Lehigh Valley Building Trades, where he said he helped put hundreds of people to work.
Molony has operated an acupuncture and alternative medicine practice in Catasauqua for nearly 20 years. As an active member of national associations devoted to alternative medicine and its standards, he said is accustomed to working to achieve consensus. Molony said he helped pass three state bills on oriental medicine.
On how to bring jobs to the Lehigh Valley: McNeill said invest in rebuilding infrastructure by offering tax credit incentives to companies to undertake the projects and hire employees. He emphasized the importance for labor and business to work together to get these kinds of projects off the ground.
Molony said a new hydroelectric power plant in the Lehigh Valley would create jobs, both to build and maintain it. He said the plant would generate electricity for 1,000 to 3,000 homes and it would pay for itself in about 15 years. Molony said the No. 1 stumbling block is Harrisburg and emphasized the need to bring regulations "in line with reality."
When Molony said he wants to create more right-to-work legislation to keep wages down, McNeill countered, "We'll have everyone working for $4 an hour. It just doesn't work." Molony said the minimum wage is $7.50 an hour and such laws help spur competition for better educated workers.
On funding schools through property taxes: Both candidates agreed the state needs to find an alternative to funding schools through property taxes.
On a bleak economic climate that has led to teacher layoffs: Molony said school districts need to find ways to encourage teachers with the most seniority to leave. "People are hanging on to their jobs in order to stay in the money making aspect," Molony said.
McNeill said workers who are laid off need to be offered ways to learn new skills to find jobs, such as was offered to laid off union members with whom he worked. McNeill criticized larger class sizes that can result when teachers are laid off. He suggested schools find ways to cut costs, such as "$4 million [building] facades" and finding more cost-efficient health plans.
On consolidating school districts: McNeill said he would not oppose the idea so long as people don't lose their jobs from the merger. Molony supported the idea because it would reduce administrative costs and overhead.
The 133rd district includes parts of eastern Salisbury, Hanover, Whitehall townships, Fountain Hill and Coplay boroughs, about half of Bethlehem and part of Allentown.