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Meet the candidates: Paul Takac, the Democrat running for the state House in the new 82nd district

A head and shoulders photograph of Paul Takac in a blue button down shirt outside.
Photo provided
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Paul Takac, a member of the College Township council, is the Democratic nominee running for the state House of Representatives in 2022 in the newly created 82nd district, which covers part of Centre County.

Seats in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives are on the ballot in the 2022 election, including the new 82nd district. Created as part of Pennsylvania’s redistricting, the 82nd runs through the middle of Centre County, from Harris Township in the South to Burnside Township in the North. WPSU’s Anne Danahy spoke with both the Republican candidate Justin Behrens and Democratic candidate Paul Takac, in an election that’s seen as competitive. Here is her interview with Takac.

A map showing Pennsylvania's new 82nd state House district
Dave's Redistricting
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This snapshot of Pennsylvania's state House districts shows the 82nd district in Centre County. It is a new district in 2022 that came out of legislative redistricting and is seen as competitive.

Anne Danahy 
Paul Takac, thank you for talking with us.

Paul Takac 
Thank you for having me. It's a great opportunity.

Anne Danahy 
You've said that you support funding for education, and that that would be one of your top priorities if you were elected. That sounds great. But then you get to the questions of how much money are we talking about? Where does that money come from? Are you thinking raising taxes at the state level is where to get additional funding for education?

Paul Takac 
So there are different pots of money that are available. Certainly, there's a lot of federal stimulus funds and Title funds and others that come into the state annually. And I think we need to fairly distribute those and equitably, so making sure that they're distributed equally across the state. At the same time, the state share of funding and support for public education at all levels, K-12 and higher ed, has stagnated over time. And we've really fallen behind. We're one of the bottom states in terms of public support for public education. So I do think we need to increase that. And there's different ways that you can do that. One is by increasing the state contribution through closing tax loopholes and other things for corporations that have really taken advantage of the fact that this opportunity has existed. So I think we can bring in more revenues there to increase the state share. And what that does is it reduces the reliance locally on property taxes, because that's a penalty that local, even struggling communities now are paying because it's put on the the local property owners. It's put on folks on fixed incomes and seniors and others. And we need to close holes like the the charter school school choice, which actually draws funds away from the local school district.

Anne Danahy 
So you would like to limit charter school options? Because there are public charter schools and parents can choose that now.

Paul Takac 
I think that if that funding should not come out of the local school funding, or at least not be replaced, because that actually works out to be a tax increase on local property owners.

Anne Danahy 
On the issue of abortion, you're pro choice. Abortion is legal in Pennsylvania, with some restrictions. Would you support legislation to either further protect abortion rights or further limit them in Pennsylvania?

Paul Takac 
I am the pro-choice candidate in this race. I believe that the choice to pursue any abortion or reproductive health care choices should be made between that person and their health care provider, not that person and their legislator. I believe that it's my role as a legislator to make sure that people have the resources they need to get the health care that they need. So yes, I would work to codify medical privacy, and choice options for every Pennsylvanian.

Anne Danahy 
And on a different topic, you currently serve on the College Township board of supervisors. Before you were on the board, the township decided to not opt out — to essentially opt in — to allowing a mini-casino in the township. Of course, a developer now wants to put one in the Nittany Mall. A lot of area residents are not happy with that decision. Where do you stand on that? Do you think the township made the right call?

Paul Takac 
Well, it's a decision that's already been made, as has been pointed out. The decisions were made back in 2017 and 2019, before I was ever on council. So I only began serving in January of 2020. So I've never really had an opportunity to vote on whether I approved or not. My focus has been on what we can control. And as council, it's our job to make sure that we're providing for the health, safety and welfare of every resident, not only of College Township, but of the greater region. So that's where I've been focused, making sure that the concerns of the community are heard, that we're addressing them. We've committed to doing an impact study that goes beyond what was already required. And committing to doing that on an ongoing basis. So, you know, I think that that's what we can control. I want to make sure that voices are being heard. But it's kind of out of our hands.

Anne Danahy 
Pennsylvania has a historically low unemployment rate right now, and Centre County's is even lower. At the same time the cost of living is climbing. We're talking about food costs, fuel, housing. What, if anything, more do you think the state should be doing to better assist people who are struggling?

Paul Takac 
Times are tough right now. And I think they're looking for someone who understands that. I mean, certainly my history — my mom passing away when I was young, and you know, relying on a union disability pension — I understand the challenges there. But I also understand that being able to come out of that, I wasn't able to do it on my own. There was a lot of support that my family and I had through that time. And it starts with things like offsetting the cost of soaring health care costs and access. That was something that was, you know, that folks are struggling with. I think, looking at reducing the impact of high fuel costs through maybe rebates or other relief that we can provide to homeowners and others who are struggling with that. But in many cases, we're at the mercy of a global or a local economy that is driving inflation. So what we can do is help folks in the here and now. We can create incentive programs for small businesses and invest in local communities. I've been spending time out in places like Snow Shoe. They live in a food desert. There is a health care desert. There's a broadband desert. They're really struggling with a lot of the things that if we can help build those opportunities we will help the working people and families.

Anne Danahy 
I want to get to one last topic, the question of climate change and what Pennsylvania is doing or should be doing. Pennsylvania is a major natural gas producer. Governor Wolf has been trying to take certain steps with joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and that's faced opposition from the Republican Party. Where do you stand on that? Do you think we should continue to pursue natural gas, which is important for revenue and jobs, or go in a different direction?

Paul Takac 
Well, first of all, I don't think anybody who has a job today should lose that job by by phasing it out. But at the same time, we're at the mercy of national and global oil and gas markets. And that's what we're seeing at the pumps. So what we need to do is expand our domestic energy reserves and really get to energy independence. And there's a lot of ways that you can do that. One is by expanding the transition, supporting the transition to a renewable energy economy, which will actually create millions of jobs in Pennsylvania. The jobs that are there in the gas industry are just sort of... they're highly automated. There aren't a lot of jobs. And a lot of the revenues aren't flowing to local communities. So one way to fund that is through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which actually creates a market for innovation and creates a source of funds for those kinds of innovations. I will say that there's things that we can do at the state level like that. But there's also things that we are doing at the local level, and I think we need to empower local municipalities.

Anne Danahy 
Paul Takack, we're out of time. Thank you very much for talking with us.

Paul Takac 
Thank you again for the opportunity.

Anne Danahy is a reporter at WPSU. She was a reporter for nearly 12 years at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, where she earned a number of awards for her coverage of issues including the impact of natural gas development on communities.
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