Representative Ann Flood and newcomer Gene Hunter go head-to-head in the race for the 138th house
This is part of a series of previews of the 2022 general election. You can see all the stories at mcall.com/election.
Republican State Rep. Ann Flood appeared to have an easy path to re-election for the first time in her 138th House District seat on Nov. 8.
Flood ran unopposed in the primary and had no Democratic challengers.
But a successful write campaign in the May primary propelled Gene Hunter to the Democratic nod for the seat. Hunter of Forks Township received 324 write-in votes.
“I didn’t want to see Ann Flood, a Republican, running unopposed,” Hunter said. “To me, that would have been a tacit endorsement for her and the Republican Party, which I vehemently oppose in its current incarnation.”
Hunter, a retired electrical technician who worked at Bethlehem Steel Corp. and M&M Mars near Hackettstown, New Jersey, is making its first run for elected office.
Flood, 48 years old, a non-profit charity operator who lives in Moore Township, is seeking a second term, after winning the 2020 open seat against Northampton County Council member Tara Zrinski, 56% to 44%, according to the results of the county elections. The reshaped district — following redistricting based on the decennial census — shows Republicans outnumber Democrats, but nearly 20% of voters are independents.
Flood declined multiple interview requests for his perspective on several topics.
In a press release last March announcing her re-election bid, Flood said she was committed to addressing property tax reform, tackling the opioid epidemic and protecting children and the elderly. She has also advocated for economic development and the growth of small businesses.
On the House of Representatives website, Flood is cited for his work to prevent elder abuse; advocate for PIAA to sanction girl wrestling programs; and having a bill, Bill 72, she introduced legislation signed by Wolf to expand a program to address opioid abuse.
Flood disapproved of the state’s face mask mandate for students during the pandemic, calling it “executive overreach” by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Hunter said he doesn’t necessarily agree with the two-term Democratic governor’s policies, particularly on economic development, the environment and energy independence.
“We ran the state on the basis that if it’s good for business, it’s good for the state,” he said, “and I don’t necessarily agree with that. “
“Wolf was much better than his competitors, but he could have done a lot more,” Hunter said.
It campaigns largely on climate change and how the planet is responding to man’s treatment of it over the past two centuries.
The 138th House District includes Bangor, Chapman, East Bangor, Pen Argyl, Portland, Roseto, Stockertown and Wind Gap, and the townships of Bushkill, Forks, Lower Mount Bethel, Plainfield, Upper Mount Bethel and Washington, along with part of the township of Moore. Under the reshaped boundaries, the Legislative District now includes a portion of the slate belt previously in the 137th District.
State officials earn an annual salary of $90,335.
The following is an overview of the candidates’ views on several key issues, based on an interview with Hunter, and Flood’s legislative filing and responses to a voter’s guide for the Pennsylvania Family Institute, a non-profit organization that states on its website that its goal is to strengthen families by restoring traditional and fundamental principles and values to public life. .
Flood posted on Facebook that she was at the September anti-abortion march for life in Harrisburg, and co-sponsored several bills that would restrict abortion, including banning it after a fetal heartbeat was detected , banning an abortion due to a diagnosis of Down syndrome, and adding a constitutional amendment declaring that there is no right to an abortion or abortion funding in Pennsylvania.
Hunter said he supported a woman’s right to choose but stopped short of allowing third-trimester abortions unless the parent’s health was at risk.
Flood co-sponsored a bill that would have created an additional property tax rebate for seniors.
Hunter gives priority to the energy development of both new and old dwellings. He acknowledges that adding foam insulation or taking other measures can be more expensive for developers, “but in the long run it would be worth it because we would make life cheaper for people and we would fight against climate change”. he said.
Other measures taken in Europe can help reduce energy consumption and lower housing costs, he said. “These things are happening; they are practical,” he said. “It’s just a matter of making it a priority.”
Flood co-sponsored a constitutional amendment that would tie state education money to individual students to allow them to attend the school of their choice. She also co-sponsored a bill that would have provided more money for charter schools. In the voter guide, she said schools should post their curriculum online for review by parents and taxpayers, but gave no answer to whether schools should be required to notify parents. any sexually explicit content in books or educational materials.
Hunter said the state should spend more money on public education to ease the burden on property taxpayers. It also supports the training of students in new energy and construction technologies and climate issues in general. “This is the biggest test humanity has ever faced,” he said.
Flood co-sponsored a bill in January 2021 that declared the November 2020 election invalid and attempted to let the Republican-controlled Legislature determine the state’s voters for president and vice president. She said in the voter guide that all voters should be required to show photo ID to vote.
Hunter said those who expose voter fraud or attempt to make it difficult for students and seniors to register to vote are trying to disenfranchise voters. He said the 2020 presidential election had been handled legitimately and any lingering doubts or questions were “absurd”.
“I think voting should be made as easy as possible,” he said, supporting measures such as automatic registration when someone turns 18.
Flood voted in April for a bill banning transgender girls from participating in girls’ school sports. She said in the voter guide that Pennsylvania’s human relations law should not be amended to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”
Hunter said public opinion has shifted towards greater community acceptance and that the recent moves to Harrisburg have been helpful. Wolf in 2018 signed an executive order creating the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs. “I don’t want to see anything cancelled,” Hunter said.
“I know some good people who are somewhere in the LGBTQ mix, and that’s just unfair discrimination,” he said.
Floodin the voter guide, said she opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Hunter supports the legalization of recreational marijuana. In countries like Portugal, he said, the government decriminalized marijuana and since then addiction rates have gone down.
“We should be heading down a path where you have personal responsibility,” he said. “If they get high and cause an accident, they should face tougher penalties.”
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TAXES AND ECONOMY
Flood stated in the voter guide that increases in state government spending should be limited to the rate of inflation plus population growth. She also said the state should not cut police funding to increase funding for social services and that it should permanently cut the gas tax.
Hunter said Pennsylvania should reconsider how it funds schools and tie it more to economic development. He said state or local communities that rush to lure an Amazon.com or other warehouses by offering tax breaks hurt tax revenue.
With the region becoming a logistics hub, municipalities and the state don’t need to entice businesses with tax incentives, Hunter said. Doing more for housing and improving the environment would increase jobs and business while increasing tax revenue, he said.
Morning Call reporter Anthony Salamone can be reached at [email protected]
Here is a breakdown of registered voters in the 138th district.
- Total number of voters: 49,417
- Republicans: 22,569 (45.7%)
- Democrats: 17,277 (35%)
- Other: 9,571 (19.4%)
Source: Northampton County Voter Registration Office