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WESA Candidate Survey: Bud Cook and Doug Mason on the issues

We surveyed Republican Bud Cook and Democrat Doug Mason, the candidates for Pennsylvania's 50th State House District, on top issues for the 2022 election.

About the WESA Candidate Survey: WESA sent surveys to all candidates running in competitive races for federal and state offices in our listening area, including Allegheny, Armstrong, Cambria, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland counties. Our candidate survey was based upon input we solicited from voters.

We followed up with candidates multiple times via both phone and email. If a candidate did not respond, we have noted that below. (If you're a candidate and would like to complete the survey now, please email Patrick Doyle,

We have fixed basic capitalization and punctuation issues, but have not otherwise edited candidates' answers.

In the wake of the Dobbs decision, some state lawmakers believe Pennsylvania should ban abortion after six weeks, with no exceptions. Would you support such a proposal — yes/no?

  • Please explain your stance and identify other changes, if any, you would like to make to the state’s abortion laws.

Cook: Did not respond.

Mason: No. I believe that decisions like this are a glaring example of government overreach. We must allow individuals to be allowed to make their own decisions, whether it is for their right to have an abortion or marry who you want. My choice may be different than your choice, but it is the freedom to make that choice that many have died for. We live in the “land of the free and home of the brave'', yet proposed bills like this one make us less free.

Pennsylvania's minimum wage has been set at the federal rate of $7.25 an hour since 2009. Do you favor state action to change the minimum wage? Yes/no?

  • Please explain our stance and, if you support a change, identify the minimum wage rate you believe is appropriate.

Cook: Did not respond.

Mason: Yes. All workers deserve to earn a livable income and we are lagging behind our neighboring border states. The minimum wage in Pennsylvania has fallen behind every state that it borders which leads to residents in border counties looking for employment opportunities in other states. Every worker deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and that starts with fair wages. A reasonable increase in the minimum wage, followed by annual increases to reach $15 (or higher) in a few years should be passed.

Do you support no-excuse mail-in voting in Pennsylvania — yes/no?

  • Please explain your stance and identify any other changes you believe should be made to state voting laws.

Cook: Did not respond.

Mason: Yes. Mail-in voting has been shown to be safe and secure and increases voter participation. There has been absolutely no proof of fraud in regards to mail-in voting. We all want safe and secure elections and mail-in voting is absolutely part of making voting more accessible to everyone.

Do you support Pennsylvania’s involvement in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which sets pricing for carbon emissions — yes/no?

  • Please explain your stance, and describe any changes you wish to see to state energy or climate policy.

Cook: Did not respond.

Mason: No. While I do support looking for ways to greatly reduce carbon emissions, the way that Governor Wolf unilaterally joined RGGI was not the way to do it. I do support whatever can be done to increase our use of green energy, but we cannot ignore our current needs in the fossil fuel industries while green energy initiatives are implemented. We can both look for ways to reduce emissions and protect the jobs of our workers in the fossil fuel industries.

Inflation is a concern for Pennsylvanians, and some legislators have called for either reducing or suspending the 58-cent-a-gallon gas tax. Would you support such a measure? Yes/no?

  • If yes, how would you replace the revenue to pay for State Police and road spending — and are there other inflation-fighting policies you would pursue?

Cook: Did not respond.

Mason: Yes. Our gas tax in Pennsylvania is one of the highest in the nation and we should look for ways to reduce this. Already people who live in border counties often cross over into other states to purchase gas due to the lower prices. We need to put our people first and find better revenue streams than high gas taxes and turnpike tolls.

In the face of rising homicide and other crime rates, would you support requiring universal background checks for gun purchases? Yes/no?

  • Please explain your stance, and describe other approaches to fighting crime that you would support.

Cook: Did not respond.

Mason: Yes. The argument that universal background checks are not necessary because criminals will get their hands on guns regardless is ludicrous. As a teacher, I am required to have background checks done regularly. Pennsylvanians are required to have a background check to be a Sunday school teacher, cub scout leader, little league volunteer and more. It is not unreasonable to ask for background checks for individuals wanting to purchase guns. Universal background checks help identify and prevent people from purchasing guns that should not be allowed to. We need to give law enforcement every tool possible to do their job which includes not only universal background checks, but also disarming domestic abusers, supporting local community violence prevention programs, and passing an Extreme Risk Protection Order bill.

School funding in Pennsylvania is heavily supported by property taxes. Would you support efforts to change that system — yes/no?

  • Please explain your stance and describe the changes you would support to how public education is funded.

Cook: Did not respond.

Mason: Yes. I am absolutely in favor of finding ways to change the current funding system for public schools. The current system, relying on property taxes, has created a large inequalty gap between school districts with wealthier neighborhoods and those in more rural, less wealthy, areas. We need to create a school funding system that treats all students, school districts, and property owners fairly.