EMMAUS – Speaking to students at Emmaus Baptist Academy here on Oct. 22, Justin Simmons didn’t see his age as a liability in his campaign for state representative. Instead, he saw it as a motivation. “I’m very scared about the future of our state and very scared about the future of our country. That’s why I’m running as a young guy.”
The 24-year old native of Upper Saucon Township told students how his grandfather’s common sense inspired him to run for office. According to Simmons, his grandfather had to quit school in the sixth grade to work in the coal mines. During World War II, he was wounded at the Battle of the Bulge and taken prisoner. While a P.O.W., Simmons said his grandfather determined to have a better life when he got home. He did so by saving the money he made as a union electrical worker.
With a $3 billion deficit, Simmons said Pennsylvania needs to learn from his grandfather and “live within our means.” His generation, said Simmons, “is entering the worst job market in the United States since the Great Depression.” Pennsylvania’s economic woes stem largely from the “tax and spend agenda” in Harrisburg, said Simmons. He wants to keep entrepreneurs in Pennsylvania by lowering taxes such as the corporate net income tax, which he cited as the highest in America.
Simmons said that going to 5,000 houses since January has let voters see that young people with integrity and honesty are trying to make a difference. “If you guys ever felt the call to run for office or serve your community, please do. We need young people in Pennsylvania to step up and run,” Simmons told the attentive, uniformed students.
Simmons had intended to live and serve in Philadelphia, where he attended St. Joseph’s University. However, the reality of Republican politics in a Democrat stronghold prompted him to come home to Southern Lehigh. He said he felt further moved to run by the state of the economy and State Representative Karen Beyer’s voting record. His proudest accomplishment, said Simmons, was defeating Beyer in last May’s primary election despite being outspent three-to-one in an “extremely negative advertising blitz.”
If elected, Simmons said he would work to lower taxes and make sure Southern Lehigh gets its “fair share of gambling revenue.” He said “we need to find a way” to stop the proposed Geryville Materials quarry, saying it would devalue homes and destroy the environment and roads. “I am 100% against the quarry. I will do everything I can to try to get that quarry out of Lower Milford. It does not belong there.”
Simmons dismissed negative campaigning as inevitable political “noise,” and cited Ronald Reagan, Rob Wonderling, and his parents as his role models and counselors. Simmons said he is optimistic about the election. “I’m excited about the opportunity to serve the district in Harrisburg. There would be no greater honor.”