ST. MARYS – As part of a four-day, 23-stop, 16-county bus tour covering over 700 miles, U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson's campaign arrived in St. Marys on Friday, where the congressman pressed the flesh with supporters at Gunner's Restaurant as part of his bid for a third term representing Pennsylvania's 5th District.
Thompson said that in his touring the district, jobs, debt, and healthcare have been among the prevalent concerns held by his constituency and expressed to him.
Thompson said the unemployment situation is twofold: With the nationwide rate at over 8 percent, he said that in talking with employers in Elk and surrounding counties, many cite job openings but a lack of workers qualified to fill those positions. Thompson said he aims to address this "skills gap" by placing a greater focus on education and training at the high school level in order to prepare workers for the manufacturing and service industries.
Thompson said that in attempting to affect the national debt at the congressional level, he has been a part of legislative efforts that include his co-sponsorship of the Budget Control Act of 2011.
"The debt scares people, 15 trillion dollars...I co-sponsored and voted for a balanced budget amendment that would force us to live within our means, which is what our families do here within the county," he said.
While the bill was ultimately defeated, not receiving the two-thirds vote required for its adoption, Thompson vowed to "keep pushing on that" by eliminating duplicative and wasteful programs in education and transportation sectors.
"That will bring down the cost of government and hopefully we'll move towards a balanced budget and generate a surplus. I think those kinds of things will help to stimulate the economy too. It will give confidence to small business, which are our job creators," he said.
Thompson admitted that achieving such a goal is harder than its sound, saying, "It's hard, it's hard, but that's how you do it."
He said the motive behind the bus tour was the intention to remind his constituents that he is at their service.
"You can't claim you represent people if you're not out in the counties and communities talking to and learning from [them]. You all are the experts on the issues when it comes to your community because you live in it, you see it," Thompson said.
Pick up a copy of the Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.