Pennsylvania Senate candidates questionnaires

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
Best & Ward

Questionnaires were sent to Democrat Emily Best and Republican Judy Ward who are running for the 30th District seat in the Pennsylvania Senate in the Nov. 6 general election.

The seat is currently held by John Eichelberger Jr., who did not run for re-election.

In Franklin County, the 30th District covers Greencastle, Mercersburg and Antrim, Fannett, Metal, Montgomery, Peters, St. Thomas and Warren townships. The district also includes all of Blair and Fulton counties and parts of Cumberland and Huntingdon counties.

Emily Best



Age: 35

Family: partner John, son Max, two school-age stepdaughters.

Education: BA from University of Pittsburgh; MA in Environmental Policy from American University.

Professional experience: Peace Corps, Senegal, 2011-2012; Farm Apprentice at New Morning Farm, 2012-2016; General Manager at Tuscarora Organic Growers Cooperative, 2016-October 2018.

1. What inspired you to seek this office?

Having lived in this district for over six years, I was frustrated that there was never a choice on the ballot. When an elected official or candidate does not have an opponent, it means that they can take your vote for granted, because they do not have to fight for it. They will win no matter what. And once elected, if they run again unopposed, no one is holding them accountable for their votes, the statements made to the media or elsewhere, or for their association with lobbyists or corporate donors. Without contested elections, voters stop paying attention, because, after all, the candidates will win no matter regardless if the voters show up at the polls.

I felt an obligation to help strengthen and revive the democratic process in our area, and honestly wasn't sure I wanted to be the one to run. I had a baby in January 2017 and was focused on my family and my job. But as time passed, and as no one stepped forward, I decided I would throw my hat in the ring. 

As a young person in a region and state which is slowly aging, I hope to bring new energy to the politics of this region. We need more young people here in central PA to keep our economy thriving and to help take care of our older population. We must orient our development going forward to the needs of the future: better internet and cell phone coverage, modernized infrastructure, and stable, well-paying jobs to attract and keep young families here. 

2. What do you believe are the top three issues relevant to Franklin County?

The most important issue facing our district is the power of elite institutions, corporations, and politicians to ignore the voices and the power of the everyday working people. No matter what the issue is - healthcare, education, eminent domain, environmental regulations, holding institutions like the Catholic Church accountable for their misdeeds - the establishment politicians in our area constantly side with their donors and lobbyists over the needs and concerns of the people. I am the only candidate in this race not taking corporate PAC donations. I am running to serve the people and end the elite and out of touch stranglehold over our government. 

As I have traveled the district, I have learned of specific issues facing Franklin County. I've heard a lot about the related issues are school funding and increased property tax. Schools in Franklin County, like those elsewhere, are struggling to address the needs of their students because the state is not fully funding their share, which leads to higher and higher millage on property owners. I would work in Harrisburg to raise revenue elsewhere to fully funded our schools. Implementing a severance tax on natural gas, as well as closing corporate tax loopholes, would help to close the gap and lower property tax rates. 

Another issue that frequently comes up while knocking doors has been healthcare concerns. As insurance costs continue to increase, many people are going without the care they need. I will work towards a healthcare system that puts our people over profit. We could implement a public option to allow more people to buy into Medicare; this would help keep the marketplace competitive and lower costs. I will continue the work being done in Harrisburg to fight for families impacted by the opioid epidemic and ensure that our families have the resources they need to get treatment. And finally, I will fight for policies that include dental, vision, hearing care, and mental health care in our insurance plans. I know how expensive it is to replace glasses and get dental care without insurance, and our families deserve access to better care. 

3. Why should someone vote for you? 

I am offering voters a choice this year. And there are two big ways I differ substantially from typical establishment politics in this region. 

First, I am running a grassroots campaign funded primarily by small dollar donors - my supporters. Outside of work like printing fliers, my campaign has been run by volunteers, many getting involved in politics for the first time. We have been knocking doors, making phone calls, and sending postcards and texts to voters to start a conversation. I have been accessible on the campaign trail through email and Facebook, and I have tried to respond to every message personally. I intend to continue that accessibility and accountability when elected.

Second, I will only listen to my voters on the issues, not special interests or establishment politics as usual. I will not accept corporate PAC donations and will work to reform campaign finance laws so that regular people's voices are not drowned out by huge donations from corporations or dark money donors. This has an affect on policy. For instance, two issues where I have chosen to listen to the voters, and not donors or special interests, show how politics is skewed against regular people. My opponent voted against the "Window to Justice" recommended by the Attorney General's report on the Priest Abuse Scandal, even though it passed overwhelmingly in the House, and even though many voters are supportive of it. I stand on the side of the victims to protect children, and to bring abusers to justice, whereas my opponent stands with the pedophile priests and institutions who want to protect the abusers. Another issue is Safe Staffing laws for nurses and other caregivers. I have spoken to many nurses who want to see this law enacted to protect their patients, because too often there are not enough nurses on the floor. My opponent does not support this mandate, because she believes that hospitals and administrators know better. 

I stand with working people and families over establishment politics and special interests. I will represent you faithfully, with integrity, with compassion, and with accessibility and accountability. It's time for something new in central PA!

Judy Ward



Age:  59

Family: Husband Bill; Sons, Bill Jr. (30) Graduate United States Naval Academy; Adam (27) Graduate Penn State University

Education: Altoona Hospital School of Nursing, Leadership Blair County, R.U.L.E. (Rural Urban Leadership) Program through Penn State 

Professional Experience:  Nurse for 22 years at Altoona Hospital (UPMC Altoona); Development Professional at two non-profits; Wellness Coordinator Ward Transport & Logistics and currently State Representative 80th District elected 2014. 

1. What inspired you to seek this office?

I chose to run for State Senator for the same reason I chose to enter public service just four years ago: to help people and give back to the communities that have meant so much to me and my family. As a State Representative, I have proven my ability to be an independent voice while still delivering for the people of my district, and to be a strong conservative leader.

My inspiration for serving has always been – and will continue to be – the people I serve. I entered public service not as a career, but as a way to give back to the community that has given so much to me. I had a long and fulfilling professional career before running for office, and I am not looking to move up the political ladder. My only goal is to be able to help more people as Senator than I currently can as Representative.

2. What do you believe are the top three issues relevant to Franklin County?

I believe the three top issues relevant to Franklin County are: ensuring communities are treated fairly when it comes to state funding – especially for education; addressing traffic and congestion on the I-81 corridor; and delivering property tax relief to homeowners, particularly our seniors.

As Representative, I helped push through a new education funding formula that treats all communities more fairly while at the same time helping increase education funding without raising income or sales taxes. I also voted for public pension reform that will save property taxpayers billions of dollars in the long-run, as well as reforms that make it harder for school districts to increase property taxes. Finally, I have been a strong supporter for infrastructure improvements that help reduce traffic and improve local roads.

3. Why should someone vote for you? 

I think, first, because I have proven I can do job and that I do it for the right reasons. As State Representative, I have a positive record of accomplishment on conservative issues – from stopping Governor Wolf’s tax increases to helping pass laws that better protect the unborn, and everything in between. Second, because I am not a politician. I entered public service less than four years ago after a long and fulfilling professional career to help people. I am running for Senate to help even more people. As I have done for the past four years as Representative – and to prove my commitment to reforming government and public service – I will refuse the taxpayer-paid pension, per diems and perks.