Field for 99th seat becomes more crowded

By on January 15, 2014

The race for the 99th Legislature District House of Representatives seat just got a little bit more interesting.

Thomas E. Wentzel and David H. Zimmerman, both of East Earl, and Linda Martin of Ephrata, have all announced their intention to seek the seat currently held by Rep. Gorden Denlinger who recently announced his candidacy for Senator Mike Brubaker’s seat, who is not seeking reelection.

The Review spoke with both Wentzel and Zimmerman. It did not learn of Martin’s candidacy until after presstime and an interview will be published at a later time.

Thomas E. Wentzel

Thomas E. Wentzel

Thomas E. Wentzel

Wentzel of East Earl said he plans to take the knowledge he has learned, his work ethic and family values, to Harrisburg if he wins the seat currently held by Denlinger.

“I would like to thank State Rep. Gordon Denlinger for his service to the district and the state,” Wentzel said. “I wish him well as he pursues his election to the State Senate.”

Wentzel said the next representative will have major issues to deal with in Pennsylvania, including, education, property tax reform and pension reform to name just a few.

“I feel we need a representative with a solid and strong knowledge in the field of agriculture,” he said, citing from 1976 to 2011, he was a dairy farmer.

In 2011, he sold the cows but continued to farm corn, soybeans and wheat.

“Farming and its related industries make agriculture the number one industry in the 99th district and in Pennsylvania,” he said. “The state must have a business friendly atmosphere for all businesses and industries for the state to thrive.”

In 1995, Wentzel made the decision to run for the school board in Eastern Lancaster County.

“My reasons at that time and today are the same,” he said, “to provide a quality education for all students and prepare them for their future. The other reason was to hold the line on taxes for residents of the district.”

According to Wentzel, Elanco went from one of the highest taxed districts in the county, to the bottom three.

“This was done by a school board working together with our administrators to find new ways to reduce costs and increase income.” he said. “With education being the largest portion of the state budget, it is important to have a person who understands how a bill or mandate can affect a school district.”

Wentzel said getting property tax reform and pension reform is crucial to the future of Pennsylvania.

“The reforms must be correct or the results will be destructive to the economy,” he said. “Our elected officials must make Pennsylvania a state where our young adults will stay and raise families.”

“My entire adult life I have been a tireless worker for my church, community, school district and the Republican party,” he said.

Wentzel has been married to his wife, Linda, for 28 years. They have five children: Zachary, 27, Emily, 25, Johanna, 21, Edward, 20, and Margaret, 18. They all graduated from Garden Spot High School. His family is active members of St. John Center Lutheran Church in East Earl.

David H. Zimmerman

David H. Zimmerman

David H. Zimmerman

Zimmerman said he views the job as an opportunity to put to use the skills he has learned as a municipal leader.

Along with being an East Earl Township supervisor, Zimmerman is also an assistant secretary treasurer, road master and storm water specialist, which, he said, has been a growing experience.

“It gave me an opportunity to meet many residents and their families, which has been very rewarding,” he said. “As supervisors, we deal with tight budgets and are handed many unfunded mandates. We have continued communication with agencies like DEP, the Conservation District and Penn Dot. This has given me a chance to interact with many of the leaders in these agencies. A good relationship with these individuals has also proven beneficial in getting things accomplished for our community.”

Zimmerman said at the township, they work very closely with neighboring municipalities.

“Seven years ago, I helped start a cog to bid road materials,” he said. “We get extremely good prices with this approach and we grew from four contiguous municipalities to 12.”

According to Zimmerman, local government is the best government because it is the most efficient and the closest to the people.

“Local and state governments need to be in constant dialog, working together and supporting each other,” he said. “State and local governments tend to each do their own thing, which needs to change.”

Zimmerman said he believes our communities are only as strong as our families.

“Strong families give us good schools, good work ethics, care for properties, are our volunteers, support our emergency services, start and manage businesses and grow our churches,” he said. “All legislation that supports and builds up families will have my strongest support.”

Zimmerman feels that agriculture is our largest industry, it is our heritage and it is a passion of his.

“I spent a number of years as a technician and as a sales and service manager for a large agriculture company,” he said. “Increased environmental and storm water regulations are among the biggest threats to the stability of agriculture in our area. I serve on the Lancaster County Agriculture Board to assist in preserving our very best farms for generations to come. I assisted in three start up agriculture businesses.”

Zimmerman thinks that small business is the backbone of the area and they create jobs, “which we so desperately need” and tend to be closer to their customers.

“People still like to do business with people they know and like,” he said. “We need to continue to provide zoning, adopt good land use ordinances and not over regulate so start up businesses are encouraged to operate, grow and flourish in our area,” he said.

Education is a large portion of our budget, he said, and we need to find ways to improve the system without continually injecting more money.

“We must accomplish pension reform, unchecked this will break us,” he said.

Zimmerman feels tax reform is a must, so we are not so heavily depended on property taxes.

“The recently passed State transportation bill will be a huge benefit for road and bridge repairs in our area,” he said. “Thanks to Rep. Gordon Denlinger for his hard work in helping to get this bill passed.”

Zimmerman serves on the Lancaster County Planning Commission and the Lancaster County Transportation Committee, which he feels gives him county wide perspective.

“I get to vote on all the land use and transportation plans in the county,” he said.

Born and raised on a dairy farm, Zimmerman is married to Ruth Ann. They have three children and seven grandchildren.

For more information, visit: davezimmerman.us.

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