The 75th Pennsylvania House District includes all of Elk and parts of Clearfield County, including DuBois.
Mike Armanini is the Republican candidate running for this seat against Democrat Ryan Grimm. There is no incumbent. Matt Gabler, who had represented the 75th district since 2008, decided not to run for reelection.
Mike Armanini has worked in the powdered metal industry in Clearfield and Elk County for more than 30 years, including as co-owner of a powdered metal company. He currently works in sales at Clearfield Metal Technologies.
He also spent three years as Headmaster of the DuBois Central Catholic School.
Mike Armanini: Well, thank you, Emily. It's great to be here.
Emily Reddy: So how do you think your experience in the powdered metal industry prepares you to be a state representative?
Mike Armanini: The Elk County/Clearfield area is actually the global leader for the powdered metal industry. I know very well that the actual manufacturing companies, along with all the other companies and services that add to the industry, makes up a very large amount of revenue for the state. So in knowing this and being associated with it for that many years, I know what our area needs as far as workforce advances, technology to help our area continue to be the stronghold and global leader for this product line. So that is, I think, one main reason, knowing that industry so well, it is definitely part of the heartbeat of the 75th District.
Emily Reddy: What do you believe is the most important challenge facing the 75th district? And what would you do about it?
Mike Armanini: Well, you know, there's no doubt with the COVID situation, you know, our state is faced with roughly $5 billion in revenue that we're missing, since the state has been shut down. That is, really, I think the number one concern to it as how do we get our state back on track? We have many obstacles. The COVID is still just not gonna go away. And I don't think we can continue to hide from it. I believe that we need to use the data that is present. Use it more wisely to open our state up more and more. There are areas like in our area in rural Pennsylvania, we have really not been affected by it. Yes, we have been affected by it, but not to the point to where it is paralyzed our area. And to be under the regulations and the numbers, let's say other metropolitan cities are, it just makes no sense. I mean, our hospitals were never maxed at all. You know, so we were already... It was kind of like, you know, what's the old story Henny Penny, waiting for the sky to fall? We just waited it. And it cost us dearly, in revenue. And we can't do that. We have to try and work with it, instead of just hide from it. And I don't think our state did... the administration did a good job at all with that.
Emily Reddy: On your website it says you defend the Second Amendment, oppose abortion and would want to combat the opioid crisis.
Mike Armanini: Yes.
Emily Reddy: And it says you'd fight for property tax reform. I wonder, where would you make up for those taxes to be able to continue to provide Pennsylvanians with services? Or would you cut some services?
Mike Armanini: Well, no, you never want to cut services. But I believe you want to make sure services are being utilized to their fullest extension. There is no doubt that we do need some reforms and revisions to unemployment, and welfare and so forth. We're in an area that we're underemployed. We have more jobs than people. So you would think our unemployment rate should be lower, but it isn't. You know, we have to make Pennsylvanians want to work. We have to let them realize that you cannot just stay on a welfare system for a long, extended period of time. If you are able to work, let us train you so we can develop a skill for you. And you can succeed in life without having to rely on the government for assistance. So, with that, we have property taxes and so forth. We all know that something needs to be done with that to be revised. In all honesty, it's property owners... it's affecting our senior citizens, which we have to take care of them. The last thing I want is someone who's lived in their home for 50 plus years have to sell it because they can no longer pay property taxes. So this is something that the House and Senate really has to work together, how do we revise this? And my opinion is, let's look at other states on how they're doing things. So I truly believe with some good common sense thinking we can make revisions to current laws and tax structures to help Pennsylvania.
Emily Reddy: There have been protests for racial justice and against police brutality this summer. Are there changes you would make as a state representative to address these issues? And if so, what are they?
Mike Armanini: We have so many great police officers throughout our state that it's really bad that they're throwing the whole bunch in. There's definitely a lot more good than bad. I, myself, do not want to defend the police. They are there for a reason. And they have done an excellent job. So I'm totally against that movement, and that mentality against our law officers.
Emily Reddy: Are there other top priorities you'd work on?
Mike Armanini: There's just so many things that our state needs to do. Being in rural PA, you know, the broadband. Because more and more people are still not back to work. They're working from home. And why not move back to beautiful rural Pennsylvania, and work. And then, you don't have to deal with the city. There's so many people who want to move back home, but their job doesn't allow them. But now, I think we're getting the chance for this to occur. In my eyes broadband service throughout the state of Pennsylvania, but also, say our country, it's the new interstate system. I'm sure back in the 50s when President Eisenhower started that and everything there were a lot of doubters and so forth. But look at it. It's how our nation moves from east to west. We need to have broadband move from east to west too. And I just think it's so important to get that infrastructure in the rural areas so we can compete and stay viable and healthy.
Emily Reddy: Thank you for talking with us, Mike Armanini.
Mike Armanini: Thank you.
Emily Reddy: Mike Armanini is the Republican candidate running for the 75th State House District. We'll talk with his competitor Ryan Grimm tomorrow. You can find more information about this year's general election at WPSU.org/vote. I'm Emily Reddy, WPSU.