The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


January 17, 2010

3 look to rebound, win House seats

Retirements of winners spark election losers' interest

SUNBURY -- Now that state Reps. Merle Phillips and Russell Fairchild have announced their retirements, the obvious question becomes: Who from the Valley will fill their House seats?

The Valley legislators Friday morning said they will end their political careers Dec. 31, after what will be a combined 52 years of service.

Steve Connolley, a Lewisburg Democrat who twice lost election bids against Fairchild, said Friday he is seriously considering another run for the 85th Legislative District seat.

Fairchild beat Connolley with 68 percent of the vote in 2006 and with 70 percent of the ballots cast in 2008.

Yet he remains undaunted.

"I'm leaning in favor of it," Connelley said. "That's probably the only way to say it."

Connolley, former president of the Milton school board, has been active in an effort to bring a community college to the Valley. He has served on several boards and is participating in a drive to develop a regional public transportation system.

As news spread of Fairchild's eventual relinquishment of the 85th district seat, Connolley said his phone started ringing, and by Friday afternoon he'd already spoken to party officials in Harrisburg and Washington, D.C.

"It's something I believe very strongly in," Connolley said. "I think that the work that I've been doing in the community really gives me a unique basis to stand on, to know how we can make a difference here in the Valley."

Phillips and Fairchild are "very good men who will be missed," Connolley said. "This kind of opens the door for some fresh ideas and new energy."

Lewisburg Borough Councilman Trey Casimir, also a Democrat, is strongly considering taking a run a Fairchild's seat.

"This is a golden opportunity," he said. "But any campaign takes a lot out of you, and I'm still recovering from my run for the 23rd state Senate district."

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