by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, March 15, 2014
John Hanger has taken himself out of the gubernatorial race after filing more than twice the required number of signatures. He has been an exceptional candidate because he ran on a number of issues that he has injected permanently into the race.
His strong stand on important issues is why many of us worked hard on his behalf in Chester County and why, some time back, former governor Ed Rendell said: “He’s been the most substantive in responding to Gov. Corbett.”
It is all too easy for candidates to praise “a world-class education or our children” or “genuine environmental stewardship.” But Hanger has been the sort of candidate who gets to the details. To name a few:
We should hold charter schools to the same fiscal and educational accountability as traditional public schools and shut down cyber schools if they can’t use taxpayers’ money as students deserve.
His College Affordability Plan would offer community college students two years of deferred tuition, and state system students one year, to be repaid out of their future earnings.
The state must do as Hanger did as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection: crack down on fracking, increase inspection staff, raise drilling fees, punish violations, and continue the moratorium on drilling in state forests and parks and in the Delaware River Basin. And, of course, we need the same level of taxation of natural gas extraction that every other drilling state has.
The state also needs to implement its own 2009 Pennsylvania Climate Action Plan,which Hanger worked on when in the Rendell administration.
Hanger also proposed a Citizens Gas Drilling Complaint Office to investigate complaints (which include depriving landowners of contracted payments) against the gas industry.
He endorsed universal single-payer health care. Obamacare moves us toward the ultimate goal: covering everyone, no more families thrown out of their homes because of medical bills, no more Americans dying for lack of treatment. The eventual fair and cost-efficient solution is Medicare for All.
Under the slogans of “Schools not Jails” and “Jobs not Jails,” Hanger would allow sick people the use of medical cannabis, reduce the penalties for marijuana possession to the equivalent of a traffic ticket, and move toward full legalization, thus gaining the state $500,000,000 a year in gained taxes and reduced enforcement costs and ending the current racially discriminatory “war” on marijuana users.
Those who prioritize these issues have lost a candidate, but not an advocate; and we will be scanning the remaining gubernatorial hopefuls, as well as those for lieutenant governor and other offices, to see how they would continue what John Hanger has started.