Democratic Candidates for U.S. 15th Congressional District Discuss Qualifications, Platforms

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Susan Boser and Wade Jodun, two candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives’ 15th Congressional District in the May 15 primary election, met for a debate on Thursday night.

Both candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s redrawn 15th Congressional District.

The 15th District includes Jefferson, Clearfield, Indiana, Armstrong, Clarion, Forest, Venango, Elk, Warren, McKean, Cameron, and Cambria Counties and parts of Butler and Centre Counties.

The Democratic nominee will attempt to reseat Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Howard, who now represents the 15th District.

The candidates quickly demonstrated their qualifications for the position and often agreed on issues. Nevertheless, each candidate offered a case why they were the best choice.

Jodun and Boser both agreed on the need for better access to high-speed Broadband Internet, the need for unions to protect worker’s rights, and forgiveness of student debt or providing new ways of financing a college education.

“I don’t think anyone could disagree that forgiving student debt would have more of an economic impact than the recent tax cut for the rich and large corporation(s),” said Jodun. “Those people could be buying things like houses and general purchases and quickly have a major economic impact.”

Both also cited health care costs as a major impact on the federal budget and supported a single-payer health insurance system.

“I absolutely support a single payer system,” answered Boser to a submitted question.


Values that stayed with Jodun for life

In his introductory comments, Jodun emphasized his experiences at his home near Lock Haven that formed his direction in life.

“I grew up in a very working-class family,” said Jodun. “My father worked at Weis Markets, and my mother worked in a greenhouse at Walmart. They did struggle to pay the bills.  I didn’t realize that when I was a kid, but looking back they struggled to pay the bills and put food on the table.”

“But, what they did give me were some values that have stayed with me all of my life. They gave me the value of love of family, the need to reinvest in your community, hard work, and doing the right thing. I want very much with this campaign to return the voice of government to the American people. I think that voice has been taken from the American people by special interests.  We have politicians that simply do not listen to us because they are not held accountable.”


Role of government
Boser concentrated on her experience with policy and her studies as a professor at IUP.

“I want to focus on the role of government,” Boser said. “There is a lot of debate going on right now about the right size of government and in particular, Democrats take a lot of hits from Republicans arguing that a small government is a better government. The role of government, in my opinion, is to create shape, advocate, and policy and enact that through legislation. And, the goal of the legislation should be to protect and promote the economic development of the region and through that also the well being of the people. And, what we should assess them on is what extent do they actually do that.”

“I have a particular depth of experience that qualifies me for this work, in my opinion. First of all, I have very deep experience in policy, the job of the Congressperson. I have a number of years of study, I have a number of years of teaching policy. I’ve also got to experience during policy analysis, and finally I’ve done the work of shaping policy very specifically for rural regions. I also have an understanding of and a deep commitment to rural areas. I have lived here my entire life; I’ve worked 20 years in it.  I also have an understanding of a core local economy impacts the people who live there. Lack of jobs and low wages cause a lot of social problems and a host of additional issues. The last qualification is I would be focused entirely on the 15thDistrict. I’m not taking any money from corporate interests, I’m 60 years old, financially secure, and I care about the well-being of the district.”

Policy, Policy, Policy

In a summary statement from the candidates, Boser again centered on her policy skills.

“I’ve been on the road with Wade since I’ve entered this race back in February, and one of the things I’ve been hearing from people is ‘Wow.  Two great candidates.’” said Boser.  “I am thrilled to be living in a time when we have two strong candidates. If Wade should win the primary, I would work on his behalf, and I would like to think the same thing is true in the other direction. That said, I’m still going to make the argument for your vote.  Policy is the job, designing it, creating it and working for the needs of a particular district. This district has not had policy crafted for it in a very long time, and that’s the job I want to do. That’s the job I’m qualified to do, and I have unique expertise in it, and I ask for your support.”

Work in the system without being absorbed and corrupted by it

“I will echo Susan’s statement. It has been a privilege for me to know her and a privilege to be on the campaign trail. It is nice that we’ve done this without being adversarial, but I also would make the argument for your vote,” Jodun said.

“I’ve seen over and over and over as folks have come to Washington, with their campaign platform or ideology. They get elected and then they seem to be absorbed into the system. I’ll tell you what really happens there is the difference between campaigning and governing.”

“You not only have to have ideas you have to be able to hit the ground running because if you can’t get have to saddle up to your own party, and you get absorbed into it. I’ll treat it like a job interview, and I’ll tell you if you want somebody who can be on the front lines of change, that’s what I did for 21 years as a wildlife and fishery biologist. You want somebody who can help rebuild the nation’s struggling infrastructure. I served as a facilities manager and oversaw $300 million dollars worth of federal infrastructure; I’ve been on the ground for rebuilding bridges and roads.  I’ve overseen the deployment of environmental equipment.  When the Obama administration tried to take the country out of the great recession with the American Recovery Act, my agency turned to me in the northeast, and I oversaw that revitalization, and that’s when I won the federal executive of the year award.”

“You want someone who has proven themselves capable of existing in the system without being absorbed and corrupted by it. I was protected for six years under Federal Whistleblower Law. I’m out of government today because I refused to accept a promotion at your expense.”

The event, held in Hart Chapel at Clarion University, was co-hosted by the Clarion University College Democrats and the Democratic Party of Clarion County. Dr. Kevan Yenerall was the moderator.

The questions were submitted in advance and covered key areas of local interest.

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