HERMITAGE Lumpp to run again for Gruitza's seat

The challenger is critical of the incumbent's two-decade track record.
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- Jim Lumpp will make another bid for the 7th District seat in the state House of Representatives, this time running as a Democrat.
Lumpp, 45, of Bobwhite Drive, tried unsuccessfully in 1998 to take the post held by Rep. Michael Gruitza of Hermitage.
He ran as a Republican that time and ran as a Republican when he got elected to the Hermitage School Board in 1999.
However, Lumpp said he learned that no amount of money can overcome the more than 2-1 voter registration edge that Democrats hold in the district and the straight party voting by Democrats.
He's changed his registration to Democrat and will take the fight to Gruitza in the May 21 primary election.
Lumpp, a graduate of Sharon High School, holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics education from The Pennsylvania State University and taught math for several years before entering the computer sciences field. He is now employed as a solutions analyst with Hewlett-Packard.
Criticizes Gruitza: Lumpp is critical of Gruitza's performance in the House, saying that Gruitza voted in favor of retirement pension increases of 50 percent for state legislators and 25 percent for teachers, changes that have left school districts facing large increases in contributions to their employees state retirement fund this year.
That translates into higher local property taxes to cover the increases, he said.
Lumpp said he plans to seek a seat on the House Education Committee and sponsor legislation for tax reform and equitable school funding.
He said he would support legislation to make public school funding more equitable by exchanging an increase in the state income tax for decreased local real estate taxes.
Lumpp also challenged Gruitza's legislative activities, saying the incumbent hasn't sponsored any legislation since 1998 that helps economic development, improve education or adds benefits for senior citizens.
He also said Gruitza has almost no political clout in Harrisburg despite serving nearly 22 years in the Legislature. Mercer County is getting only about $80,000 a year in legislative grants (frequently referred to as Walking Around Money) while the state average per county is nearly $500,000, he said.

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