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Fred Keller

SUNBURY — Fred Keller is unwaveringly consistent touting his conservative values and business experience in his candidacy for the state’s 85th Legislative District seat.

It’s a message the Republican refers to repeatedly on the campaign trail, and he stayed with it during an editorial board meeting at The Daily Item on Tuesday.

Asked to distinguish himself from opponents Democrat Trey Casimir, a Lewisburg Borough Council member, and Libertarian Erik Viker, a Selinsgrove Borough Council member, Keller said: “My experience and my values. I’m not the political insider.”

Keller, 45, joined Conestoga Wood Specialties, Beavertown, fresh out of high school, rising through the ranks to plant operations manager at the facility with 177 employees, about 10 years ago. He’ll leave the company if elected in November. The state House seat the three seek is held by Rep. Russell H. Fairchild, a Republican from Lewisburg who is retiring.

“I got a heck of a business education through experience,” Keller said. “I facilitate an environment where we can get things done. As a legislator, you have to do the same thing.”

Though Fairchild is leaving office in frustration after more than two decades, Keller said he’s confident if elected he’ll be able to shrink government and create jobs.

“We should all have the same goal, if we’re going to Harrisburg, to do what’s right,” he said. “I’m not motivated to run for recognition or money, but on my values and what I believe.”

He’d oppose higher taxes, fees and regulations while focusing on eliminating wasteful spending, including the Turnpike Commission and Rails for Trails program, which has received nearly $4 million in state grants to establish a nine-mile trail linking Lewisburg with Mifflinburg.

“I’m not against recreation, but is that something we need to spend our money on now? We should pay our bills first,” Keller said.

He’s in favor of the proposed $500 million Central Susquehanna Valley Thruway project that’s languished for 30 years as economically necessary to keep goods and services moving easily through the area.

Instead of supporting a new community college, Keller said Sun Area Technical Institute, New Berlin, offers residents plenty of educational opportunities.

“We should maximize the resources we have there,” he said of the school where he took computer classes several years ago.

Asked about a report released Monday that ranks Pennsylvania as seventh out of the top 10 states to have guns used in crimes in other states partly due to loose gun control laws here, Keller said he believes the state’s gun laws are sufficiently strict.

“I believe in gun owner rights. Guns don’t commit crime,” he said.

Standing firm on conservative values is what he’s offering voters.

“I look at myself as a regular guy. I’m conservative, and that’s how I’m going to behave,” Keller said. “I’ll stay consistent.”

— E-mail comments to mmoore@dailyitem.com.

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