Knotts, Neuman seek seat in 48th
A political newcomer will fill a soon-to-be open seat in the 48th Legislative District, state House of Representatives.
Whether the seat remains a Democratic foothold will be resolved Tuesday as voters will decide between Democrat Brandon Neuman and Republican Cody Knotts.
The candidates held off several challengers in the primary to vie for the seat being vacated by Tim Solobay, who is seeking the 46th District seat in the state Senate.
Solobay is out to replace long-time state Sen. J. Barry Stout, a Bentleyville Democrat and powerful transportation advocate. Stout is not seeking re-election.
Neuman, of North Strabane Township, who turned 29 today, is an attorney with the Pittsburgh law firm Robert Peirce & Associates.
He received his undergraduate degree in criminal justice from the University of Pittsburgh and his master’s degree from Pitt’s law school.
Neuman said he became interested in public service as an intern for Solobay.
He also served as a Washington County Democratic committeeman.
Neuman said he has been running a grassroots campaign, by knocking on doors and answering questions.
“I’ve personally knocked on over 6,000 doors,” Neuman said. “I don’t think television or radio ads are the same as getting out there and answering questions on doorsteps.”
Neuman said he will seek ways to reduce property taxes by finding alternative ways for counties and local municipalities to generate revenue.
Neuman supports a severance tax on companies drilling for oil and gas in the Marcellus shale formation.
He said the tax would be low in the first few years and gradually rise over the next five to 10 years.
He said that by allowing the companies to grow, local communities would benefit more.
“This system works in every other state that has horizontal drilling,” Neuman said.
Neuman said it is important to “give back to his community,” a concept that fueled his desire to seek office.
His opponent, Knotts, 42, of North Stabane Township, is a conservative activist and newspaper publisher of “The Weekly Recorder.”
Knotts previously said he is campaigning to continue his crusade against corruption in local government.
“I’m an absolute watchdog,” he said. “It’s not about having less representation in government. It’s about having more and getting rid of this bureaucracy. The corruption feeds the spending. The spending costs us the jobs.
“There needs to be someone watching the treasury, watching how our money is being spent, watching the misuse of power, and I’m that guy.”
Knotts said he can be a major influence in Harrisburg with some long-time legislators’ seats available.
“We need somebody who’s going to be tough and smart to go to Harrisburg and get the money,” he said.
“We need to cut the state budget about a third. When that’s cut, we still have things that need to be funded.
Knotts said money is being directed toward special interests and that he has gained valuable insight as a publisher.
“I’m unique among all the people running,” he said. “I’ve already brought public corruption to the forefront, rooted it out, and got rid of people who were misusing tax dollars time and time again. If I did it as a private citizen, why wouldn’t I do it in officeâ¢ That’s been my life’s goal.”
The 48th District comprises the Washington County municipalities of the City of Washington, townships of Amwell (District 1), North Bethlehem, North Franklin, North Strabane, Somerset and South Strabane and the boroughs of Bentleyville, Canonsburg, Cokeburg, East Washington, Ellsworth and Houston.
Residence: North Strabane Township
Education: Undergraduate degree in criminal justice from the University of Pittsburgh and master’s degree from Pitt’s law school
Occupation: Attorney with the Pittsburgh law firm Robert Peirce & Associates
Prior elected office: Washington County Democratic committeeman
Residence: North Strabane Township
Occupation: Newspaper publisher, The Weekly Recorder
Prior elected office: none