Republicans honor Hawkins at Lincoln Day dinner|
Friday, April 19, 2013
By Wendy Lynn Brion Staff Writer
Republican leaders and guests gathered last night at the Knights of Columbus in Clearfield to honor the longest-serving sheriff in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well as hear from candidates for various offices and a keynote speaker.
Representatives Tommy Sankey, R-74 of Clearfield, and Matt Gabler, R-75 of DuBois, jointly presented a citation from the state House of Representatives to Sheriff Chester Hawkins, who holds the record for longest-serving sheriff in the state and who is also retiring this year after 37 years of service.
Hawkins said he appreciated the honor and said he has truly been blessed in his life and it has been an honor to serve as sheriff.
Three men are running for the Republican nomination for sheriff on the May ballot and each took a few minutes to talk to the audience about his qualifications.
John Bacher III is from Madera and served in law enforcement for 30 years, beginning with the Decatur Township Police Department before joining the Pennsylvania State Police in 1985. He served as a criminal investigator for two years and moved into the drug task force where he worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Administration and was promoted to corporal.
Bacher has degrees from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania in healthcare where he has an associate's degree in nursing. He works at Clearfield Hospital emergency room and is also a hospital supervisor.
Bacher said he is a supporter of the second amendment and is a gun owner and wants to maintain a proactive, community-oriented department.
Harry "Abe" Miller is from Rockton and said everything good in his life came when he moved to Clearfield County. He said he has worked private security for DuBois Regional Medical Center and has training in money management. He said he is also debt free. Miller said he loves the county and the people and is dedicated to keeping the county a safe place to live, work and play.
Wes Thurston is the third candidate for sheriff and said he has been a patriot "literally all my life." He said he not only supports the second amendment but also the first amendment and "on up the line." He said Clearfield County has the best people on earth and pointed to 32 years as a police officer, retiring as a lieutenant from the PSP in 2009 as his experience. He said he also served as a municipal police officer and has degrees from Northwest University and Penn State University.
Candidate for Superior Court Vic Stabile also spoke last night and told the audience, "Our fundamental rights are under attack." He said the fight is taking place in the judiciary, which is the smallest branch of the government. Stabile pointed out that Pennsylvania's superior court is the oldest appellate court in the nation and is made up of a panel of three judges, and it only takes two to made a decision.
Stabile said he is astounded by the cases coming through the courts now, noting that after a second amendment decision by the supreme court the battleground has moved to the states. "The battleground is coming to us," he said, "We can't afford to falter." He said the Democrats have said they see the superior court as "their chance to make law."
Stabile said he is a strict constructionist when it comes to the Constitution and the job of judges is to uphold the laws as written. "Lady justice is blindfolded, but she's not blind," he said, adding that everyone has a right to stand before a judge and be treated fairly. He said he makes no apology for being pro-life, supporting the Second Amendment and being a member of the NRA. He asked people to get out and vote and encourage friends and family to get out and vote as well.
The keynote speaker was Jerry Morgan, state GOP congressional liaison, a job he took in 2008 to help get more Republicans elected to the state house. He said the goal was four, and they were able to get five elected.
"You are doing a great job," he said to the audience of Republican leaders, pointing to two commissioners, several other county officer holders and two state representatives, adding about Sankey and Gabler, "They're something special."
He noted that 2012 did not turn out as hoped. "We took a beating, he said, but noted in 2009, Republicans won six out of seven judges state wide, in 2010 elected a governor and a senator "who was not supposed to win" and five congressmen. "Because of people like you," he said.
Morgan talked about election night in 2011 when he was in Philadelphia to help get Commissioner Al Schmidt elected. He said Schmidt has worked hard to keep elections fair and introduced Voter ID.
But what about the future? Morgan said that every morning you need to wake up and have a plan. He said you need poise and confidence to carry out your plan, but most of all you need patience. He noted 2016 is coming soon and the audience members need a plan now.
Morgan said the combination of plan, poise, patience and confidence equals success. He said they need to be committed, disciplined, give their maximum effort to do anything in life, and be tough because someone will try to tear you down. He said price in every aspect of your life is also a necessity.
"Our country is in jeopardy," he said. "What are we going to do about it." He said "we're going to put a stop to it."
Morgan looked to the future and said 2014 will get better, noting that Gov. Tom Corbett will be up for reelection.
He noted many people have issues with Corbett, but he did what he said he would do, "And should he be punished?" Morgan also said it will be time to "re-elect these fine representatives," referring to Sankey and Gabler.
In 2015 he said it will be time to re-elect the commissioners and in 2016 there will be momentum "Philadelphia won't be able to stop."
"I'm impressed with what's going on in Clearfield County," he said. He also noted that the area is very fortunate to have Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-5 of Howard, as congressman, noting, "He is a great congressman and an even better man."
Gabler and Sankey also spoke briefly. Sankey said it has been an honor to serve the people of the 74th district and said there is not only a divide between Republicans and Democrats, there is an even bigger divide between rural and urban representatives. He said he had his first bill introduced and passed in the house, a community services bloc grant program to help small businesses. "It's a push to say we are listening...we do care," he said, adding he wants to change the anti-business culture in the state. He said serving as representative is a wonderful opportunity and he wants to be a voice for the people.
Gabler noted he wouldn't be where he is without the support of the people.
He noted these are unique times and they are working through difficult issues and he is working with great people, setting priorities. He said people expect the government to work for them and his seat does not belong to him, it belongs to the people.
Gabler noted that while the second amendment is under fire, the state constitution has a similar clause, which is even stronger and must be upheld. "If you created laws that disarm people, you make society less safe," he said, adding that it is the responsibility of the states to push back against a federal government that oversteps its bounds.
Lieutenant Gov. Jim Cawley was also scheduled to speak, but was unable to attend due to a family conflict.