By Yaasmeen Piper
Family, business, money and politics were the topics of discussion with Representative Jack Rader on Nov. 6.
The College Republicans hosted the sit down with ESU’s chosen legislature as he talked about his history with politics and issues surrounding Monroe County.
Rader started the night saying how important it is for young people to be involved in their local government.
“Younger people are the future of this country,” he said. “You guys have to try to make this work too.”
After graduating from Susquehanna University, Rader worked at Mountain Springs Lake Resort in Reeders, Pa., which his family owned. In the mid 1980’s Rader was appointed to be a part of the Jackson Board of supervisors where he served for 28 years. The last 20 years of his position were served as chairman.
Rader said he never thought he would run for a position like the State House, yet in 2014 he found himself elected to represent Monroe County’s 176th Legislative district. Rader quickly learned the difference between local and state level politics.
“You think government is government. It’s not,” he said. “On the local level politics do not matter as much. It’s the person that matters. People, in general, are more for the community at a local level, and are more likely to try and make things work. You want someone who is there for the community as a whole.”
Rader says as you move up the political ladder there is more friction between political members which makes passing bills even more difficult.
“You go in thinking ‘I can really try to make a difference in state government’ but it’s very difficult to do that individually,” he said.
Even with Republicans running the House and the Senate, the State still finds itself at odds on a variety of politics.
“There are 200 members in the house, there’s the Senate, there’s the governor,” Rader said.
“Even if you have a great idea you have to get it through your 200 members, then you have to get it through the Senate which always has the better idea than you do, and then you have to get the governor to go along with it so it’s very difficult to get issues moved forward.”
One issue the Representative is passionate about is lowering Monroe County’s property taxes.
According to Smart Assets, property tax rates range from one to two percent of the home’s market value.
In Monroe County, the property tax rate is 2.39 percent.
“I’d like to see property tax reform, our speaker is against property tax reform but it’s hard to get that through,” Rader said.
“At times, leadership slows the [bill passing] process down.”
Among the students, staff and visiting residents, was President Welsh who voiced her own concerns surround ESU.
“ESU and the other 13 state system universities are state agencies rather than independent colleges and universities,” she said.
“So everything that we do, we have to follow every rule that every state agency follows. So we have no freedom in procurement. We have no freedom in construction.”
Welsh also stated that ESU has no control over their labor costs.
Everything is decided by Governor Tom Wolf.
Last year, Wolf added $20 million in labor costs for one union which PASSHE universities received $8 million of.
“We also have no control over labor costs. They are all decided by the governor,” said Welsh.
“Dived $8 million by 14, and we get nothing,” Welsh said, “and the people that [make up for the remaining costs] are in this room and it really is unfair to want economic development and growth in the common wealth and starve the young people that are the future.”
Though politics has its ups and down, Rader still encourages young people to get involved.
“Get to know some of the people on your local county Democratic or Republican committee, I promise they will be excited to see a young person interested in politics,” he said.
“Whether you want to be involved in politics of not, being involved in your community is rewarding.”
Rader adds that younger people should not try to rush into office.
“Wait until there is a vacancy on your local school board or municipality, or if someone is running for reelection you don’t agree with, then run,” he said.
“Don’t use an office as a stepping stone for a higher office. People can usually see right through that. If you do a good job and care about the people you are serving, good things will follow.”
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