Incumbent Rob Matzie, 43, is running unopposed in Tuesday's primary for the Democratic nomination in the 16th District of the Pennsylvania State House.
and , Beaver County, are vying for the Republican nomination to unseat Matzie in the November election.
Matzie lives in Ambridge with his wife Patty, who have a daughter Claire.
Patch: What is your primary reason for running?
Matzie: When I first decided to run four years ago, it was because I felt my experience in both local and state government made me uniquely qualified and was the natural progression for me to increase my public service to the people of the 16th District. As a father of a school-aged child, I remain committed to ensuring that our state government runs as effectively and efficiently as possible while maintaining our constitutional obligation to adequately fund our core functions of government including education and infrastructure needs.
Patch: What will be your top priority?
Matzie: I remain committed to working on adequate investments to fund education, infrastructure (including transportation needs), protecting our environment while balancing the need for responsible job creation and reducing the tax burden on all Pennsylvanians.
Patch: What sets you apart from the other candidate(s)?
Matzie: My experience now in my second term as a member of the House of Representatives and as a former Senate staff member coupled with my local government experience as a mayor and a member of the Planning Commission. My demonstrated independence and not being a rubber stamp to my political party or any special interest. Believing that as a policy maker it’s about doing what’s in the best interest of my district and region first and foremost.
Patch: What’s your favorite thing about the district you serve?
Matzie: The people. There is an undeniable air of optimism from people of all walks of life. They are passionate about their community and the unique diversity that is still rich in our neighborhoods. The people are also willing to work towards bettering themselves and their zip code including helping others in a variety of charitable endeavors. The compassion and work ethic of the people of the 16th district is still second to none and on display everywhere you look.
What are your views on the issues you see most important?
Matzie: Elimination or reduction and reliance on property taxes and continued investment in community and economic development. Property tax increases are tied to less funding from the State forcing school districts to raise taxes. A real conversation, not political bantering, must occur centered not only on property taxes but our entire tax system. We must also have policies in place and adequate funding for job retention and job creation to allow our state to prosper.
Patch: What’s the biggest problem facing the state?
Matzie: Without question, funding for education and transportation including public transportation are the state’s biggest problems. Again, as funding diminishes for education from the state it leads to increases in property taxes by our local school districts. If transportation isn’t dealt with for the serious problem that it is, it will lead to a trickle down affect resulting in disastrous outcomes and hurting our chances for job retention and job creation.
Patch: Anything else you would like to add?
Matzie: I remain humbled that the voters have entrusted me to be their representative voice in state government and remain committed to prioritize good policy that puts people first before partisan politics. As an independent voice I have worked in a bi-partisan fashion to get the job done. I have continued since my first term to use my experience working on policies and projects that helped create and retain jobs and increased investments in education. In my first term I stood up to party leaders and the Governor against an increase in broad based taxes and led the charge on passage of key legislation. This term I recently voted yes to reduce the size of the legislature and to put all state spending on a public website. I also voted yes to place a moratorium on court ordered reassessments and supported and helped steer legislation through the House that allowed for legislation that will aid job retention and job creation including our old industrial sites and brownfields. I voted no for the passage of the Marcellus shale legislation that stripped local government’s rights to impose zoning and to remove the ability to adequately protect our water and air. The legislation also ignored the Governor’s handpicked committee’s recommendations on an impact fee or tax settling instead on a lower amount.
Related Experience: Matzie holds an associate's degree in technology and communications from the Community College of Beaver County and a bachelor's degree in journalism from Point Park University.
Matzie was the programming manager for WMBA-AM 1460 and still does some high-school football radio broadcasts.
Matzie was elected in 2008 to the state House after serving for 14 years as a state senate staffer and as an appointment member on various boards in Ambridge. He served out the term of the late Ambridge Mayor George Kyrargyros from 2002 to 2003 after he passed away.
The Pennsylvania primary is scheduled for April 24. Click here for more information about local races and candidates. Check back with Patch for coverage of other local races and more candidate profiles.