BURNHAM - The Democratic candidate for the U.S. 5th Congressional District, Mark McCracken, was the guest speaker at Tuesday's Lewistown Rotary meeting at Birch Hill.
McCracken said he was pleased to make the trip to Mifflin County, and spoke about his experience in government and his willingness to work in a bipartisan manner to establish good policy.
McCracken is a second term Clearfield County commissioner and prior to that, he served on Clearfield Area School District Board of Directors for three terms, both of which he cited as positions that require working in a bi-partisan manner to get things accomplished.
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
Clearfield County Commissioner Mark McCracken discusses the issues on Tuesday.
McCracken spoke mostly about economic development and the need for fiscal responsibility during the meeting.
McCracken said he and the other Clearfield County commissioners inherited a deficient in 2004; however, by 2007 they had reversed that trend and recovered.
"I am pleased to report our general fund balance is $6 and a half million," McCracken said of the Clearfield County surplus.
At one point during his speech, McCracken said the federal government's "credit card politics or policies of borrow and spend are unacceptable" and irresponsible fiscal policies.
"We need to put the federal government back in working order," McCracken said.
When asked about his take on the current economic crisis, McCracken said a lack of oversight on the part of the federal government was partly to blame for the current crisis.
"We need to put in protections so this doesn't happen again ... let's learn from our mistakes," he said.
Along with a balanced county budget, McCracken said that during his tenure as a county commissioner, Clearfield County government officials worked with state officials and private industry to bring new business to the area.
McCracken said Pennsylvania's first Ethanol Plant is now located in Clearfield County and will have a huge impact on the local economy, thanks to the collaborative effort of many individuals.
In keeping with the theme of alternative energy, McCracken said there needs to be a "real national fuel policy" that "must be diverse."
He said we "need to stop sending billions to the Middle East," and invest in developing our own resources in this country, which he added was crucial to our "national security."
"We need to keep money and jobs here ... eventually we need to become energy independent," McCracken said.
When asked what his position on offshore drilling was, McCracken said he was not opposed to the idea, as long as it was part of an overall solution that included other energy sources. However, McCracken was concerned that the government would grant the oil companies the right to drill, but they wouldn't be able to do so because the United States currently does not have enough refineries to keep up with an increase in domestic oil production.
"We should tap our own resources and drill wisely," he said.
McCracken also addressed the issue of increasing health care costs, and said he would support a "voluntary" national insurance purchasing pool, in which individuals and small businesses could participate in and would keep costs down.
McCracken said Clearfield County officials, along with 12 other counties officials, including Mifflin County, participates in a similar pool, which has saved money for all of these counties.
He added that if the federal government could effectively run such a program, then the country could take the next step toward universal health care.
The last issue McCracken spoke of was the second amendment and the right of the public to posess firearms.
"I'm from Clearfield County and we cling to our bibles and guns up there," McCracken said with a laugh, which the audience matched.
He added that he supports the second amendment and not just on the grounds set forth in the Constitution, but on economic grounds as well.
"Hunting and fishing are a very important part of the regional economy," McCracken said of the U.S. 5th District.
If the next president of the United States makes any moves to infringe on the right to own a firearm, McCracken said he would be one of the first people to oppose such a measure.