Iraq war veteran and former magisterial district judge Guy Reschenthaler has clinched the state Senate seat vacated by former Democratic Sen. Matt Smith in June.
Reschenthaler will serve out the remainder of Smith’s term, which runs through the end of 2016, representing much of western and southern Allegheny County, as well as a portion of northern Washington County.
Reschenthaler said he wants to bring a “judicial style philosophy” to Harrisburg, making decisions through negotiation and compromise.
He’s confident he can reach across the aisle to help end the budget stalemate that has already dragged on for more than four months.
“You don’t go to the negotiation table by taking things out of negotiation. You have to realize that everything’s on the table. You’ve got to have common sense, you’ve got to be reasonable when you go to the table,” he said. “But you don’t … sacrifice your values and your principles.”
Reschenthaler said he's wary of Governor Tom Wolf’s tax proposals, which include a severance tax on Marcellus shale drillers and an increased and expanded sales tax.
“I don’t want to see any tax increases that aren’t absolutely necessary,” he said. “I want to also make sure that we’re fully funding our public education system.”
Reschenthaler said relying heavily on property taxes to fund schools hurts homeowners, especially senior citizens who may be living on a fixed income.
He also supports pension reform, suggesting that the state meet its obligations to current and retired employees but enrolling new employees in a 401(k) style system.
Additionally, he wants to see wine and spirits stores privatized.
Reschenthaler said he was humbled by the support of voters in the 37th district.
“I know I couldn’t have gotten here by myself, and I’m just really thankful for everybody who offered encouragement, advice and helped me along in this process.”
Reschenthaler’s Democratic opponent, Heather Arnet, declined to comment on the results of the election. Republicans now hold 31 seats in the 50-member Senate.