CAMPAIGN 2014: Gubernatorial hopeful McGinty brings campaign to Indiana
Local residents were given the opportunity Thursday to voice their biggest concerns in the upcoming primary race with Katie McGinty, one of four candidates for the Democratic nomination for Pennsylvania governor.
Through a Working Family Roundtable hosted at Commonplace Coffeehouse and Roastery in Indiana, a handful of residents of Indiana and Center Township were able to sit with McGinty to discuss not only the key topics of McGinty’s campaign, but the key issues that they consider most important to them in Tuesday’s election.
[PHOTO: Katie McGinty, center, candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, met with members of the community Thursday at Commonplace Coffee House in Indiana. With McGinty are Jason Worzbyt, of Indiana, an associate professor in the music department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Tina Palmer, of Center Township. (Jamie Empfield/Gazette)]
McGinty, a native of Philadelphia, said in an interview that her campaign focus is on education and jobs.
“I think Indiana can be key both to understanding the need for investment in education and to be point of the spear in growing some of those good jobs,” McGinty said.
And education was the highlight of discussion at the event.
Jason and Michelle Worzbyt, a couple who reside in Indiana, sat at the round table. Jason Worzbyt is an associate professor in the music department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
His main point of interest, with cuts of music education and the arts in general in public elementary and high schools aside, was hearing McGinty’s plan is to restore funding to the State System of Higher Education if she were to become governor.
In 2013, McGinty said, Gov. Tom Corbett proposed a 50 percent cut in state funding for public colleges and universities.
“It’s not surprising that in the last three years we’ve gone from seventh in job creation in the United States to 48th, which is such a shocking statistic to most Pennsylvanians,” McGinty said.
Shocking, she said, because “they know that we’ve got great universities and educational institutions and they know about the great natural resources and they know that we have a workforce that likes to work hard and does work hard.”
According to McGinty, “If you want to compete and win in this world, you have to be investing in those things that become your strengths and your assets … it all starts with a trained, capable workforce.”
The basic building blocks, she said, are education and infrastructure.
But, she said, only 20 percent of middle-income families get support for their children for secondary education.
“Education has to be a top priority investment,” she said.
At the elementary and high school level, McGinty said, music and the arts are a vital piece of education. The possible cut of programs locally, specifically in Indiana, are a concern for both of the Worbytzes, whose said their son will attend an Indiana Area School District elementary school next year.
“I want (my son) to be able to do what he wants,” Michelle Worbytz said. “It’s really hard to lose faith in a system.”
Two other residents who sat on the round table were Eric Barker, of Indiana, and Tina Palmer, of Center Township.
McGinty considers this to be a critical turning point for the commonwealth.
“I have a strong vision and determination to work hard for working families in Pennsylvania.”
While serving as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, McGinty worked with residents of Indiana, especially those in and around the university, she said.
“I was eager to come back and see all the progress,” she said.
McGinty, according to her campaign website, is a “Clean Energy Ambassador” for the Department of Energy, and said that another key item on her agenda is growing jobs for Pennsylvanians within the Marcellus shale industry.
“I want to make sure that we are growing these jobs for Pennsylvanians, whether it’s out there in the well development fields or adding value-added industries,” those that focus on natural gas being used as a clean form of energy.
The other Democrats seeking the party’s nomination in Tuesday’s primary are state Treasurer Rob McCord, U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz and businessman Tom Wolf. Gov. Corbett and Jim Cawley, the incumbent lieutenant governor, are unopposed for the Republican nomination.
Though in most recent polls McGinty came out in single digits, for the duration of her campaign she plans to continue to prove to Pennsylvanians how her background, coming from a working family of 10 children, and her career, can be an asset.
People “connect and resonate” with the fact that she comes from a “working family like they do.”
With that, she said, “they know the decision I’m going to make is about strengthening the middle class and growing jobs.”
In addition to serving as secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection under Gov. Ed Rendell, McGinty previously served as chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality under President Bill Clinton.