Gary Wegman doesn't need to go to Washington to represent Pennsylvania's 9th District — he says he already has two full-time jobs as a farmer and dentist — but he wants to go to represent the people of the district who aren't getting the response they deserve now.
"We need a representative that will come back to us to hold live town halls, where they can answer questions about what you are doing," Wegman said in an editorial board meeting with The Daily Item on Friday. "Justify your actions to your constituents. We need to be able to question them. I will be committed to coming back to all eight counties and answering your questions."
The Democrat discussed a range of topics, including the federal response to COVID-19, partisanship in Washington, a needed boost for agriculture, a single-payer option for health care. Wegman, who lost in the primary for the 9th Congressional District two years ago, meets incumbent Dan Meuser on Nov. 3.
The session was the latest in a series of editorial board meetings that feature Valley candidates in contested elections.
Wegman said too many elected officials are looking for wins in Washington rather than solving the nation's problems.
"I understand the issues, the legislation," he said. "Don't bring me problems, bring me your solution. Right now we aren't seeing people bring solutions. A lot of people are winning one for their team, not for their constituents. We need to stop this us vs. them. People are tired of that stuff. The only solution we have is to change the people down there. I am one of us."
Wegman commended President Donald Trump for his early travel ban from China to slow the spread of COVID-19 in America. But the ball has been dropped since then, including on a national testing policy, he said.
"We do like to call ourselves the United States, but we haven't been united in that fashion (battling COVID)," he said. "We need the same message, from the president to governor to health professionals. We should have kept the pandemic tax force, we need to invest in the CDC."
In terms of a single-payer health care system, Wegman says voters in the 9th District don't "give a hoot if it's Biden's, Bernie's or Trump's plan," but want leaders to "talk about smart ideas."
"They've had years to do this and we don't hear about."