UPPER SAUCON – Supervisors here welcomed state representative candidate Mike Horton at their meeting Monday night. Horton’s general election opponent, Justin Simmons, had accepted Chairman Miro Gutzmirtl’s invitation to address the board, but did not show due to a scheduling mixup.
The Democrat nominee for the 131st District comes from a background in military and corporate leadership. Horton is a West Point grad who served in Operation Just Cause, the 1989 U.S.-led invasion of Panama that ousted dictator Manuel Noriega in the war against drugs. Horton has since worked as a vice president in a Fortune 500 company.
Gutzmirtl and his fellow supervisors had plenty of questions for the candidate. According to Gutzmirtl, many had gone unanswered by current State Rep. Karen Beyer. He wanted to know why the township had not received a single dollar in stimulus funding last year, particularly grants or funds for infrastructure and open space preservation. Gutzmirtl said the township would like a moratorium on new development in order to update its land use ordinances. New development applications delayed such updates in the last year. The township would also like the state to grant local governments the authority to levy impact fees on new developments to pay for schools, infrastructure, police, fire, recreation, and related improvements necessitated by new developments. Other concerns were how to make it easier for townships to recruit volunteer firefighters, raising the bar on when townships have to buy advertisements for contract and purchase bids, and making it possible to buy such ads in less expensive, more effective papers like the Penny Power instead of the ineffective, very expensive Morning Call.
Horton responded to Gutzmirtl’s concerns sympathetically, saying “I come from a business background, so a partisan reason to not answer these questions doesn’t sit well in my mind.” He added that “the state has to pony up the money” for open space and infrastructure expenses. Horton said he would oppose measures in Harrisburg that push unfunded mandates onto local governments. The way to find money for local projects, according to Horton, is primarily by ensuring that all companies pay their fair share, and secondarily by cutting wasteful spending. Horton claimed to support a decrease in the overall corporate tax rate. However, Horton also said he would like to see 80% of Pennsylvania businesses pay taxes they are hiding from currently.
Gutzmirtl did not know why Simmons had not attended the meeting, and regretted the missed opportunity to speak with the two candidates together. Horton indicated his desire for a formal debate, but said thus far only an on-air radio debate has been scheduled. If elected as state representative, Horton said he would like to report to the township on a quarterly or monthly basis, a proposal Gutzmirtl found “refreshing.” According to Gutzmirtl, the current state representative has given the township updates on an annual basis only.
Horton thanked the supervisors for the invitation and offered to personally address any questions voters may have. Mike Horton can be reached on his cell phone at 610-770-1685.