Veteran Seneca Valley educator Steve Smith, principal at , is staging a write-in campaign to take on incumbent state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, in the April 24 primary election.
Smith launched a Facebook page a few days ago to announce his candidacy for the state House of Representatives. To be on the ballot in the November general election, Smith will need more than 300 votes in the spring primary.
“Over the years, I have been honored to have your support as a friend, a colleague, a neighbor, or in some other way,” he wrote on the site. “Today, I turn to you once again for your support as I embark upon a new endeavor: running for State Representative in Pennsylvania’s 12th District.”
Smith said his campaign will focus on community, including addressing the state's crumbling roads and the pension system. Right now, he said, state officials are interfering with choices that should be made by local decision makers. Spending cuts that are not being made at the state level are being pushed down to local officials, forcing them make tough decisions such as raising taxes in the community, he said.
“They’re not allowing them to do what they need to do,” he said.
As an educator, Smith already has an impact on his students’ lives. Becoming a representative would expand that influence, he said.
“Leaving education would be huge, but I can still make a difference in a much larger capacity,” he said.
Smith said he also is dissatisfied with the leadership shown by Metcalfe, who was first elected to Congress in 1998.
“I am very frustrated by our current Representative who does whatever he likes or whatever his personal agenda tells him to do with no respect for our principles and no respect for the people of the district that he represents,” Smith wrote on his site. “The role of a Representative is to carry out the will of the district even when they personally disagree. That is how representative government is supposed to work.”
In January, Metcalfe butted heads with school district officials when In his letter, Metcalfe said school board members, school administrators and educators need to work together to “find alternatives to resolve budget issues rather than increasing the burden on taxpayers."
He also said the school board applied for an Act 1 waiver because “it is a near guaranteed tax increase without voter approval.”
The state Department of Education has since Although it gives the district permission to raise taxes beyond the 2-percent index, it does not mean district officials plan to do so.
Smith said he was disappointed Metcalfe did not speak to school board members to learn more about the issues the district is facing——before writing to the governor.
“He never went and discussed it with the school officials or the school board or the local officials and he creates a letter and publicizes that,” Smith said.
Describing himself as a non-political type of guy, Smith said his intention in running is not to defeat Metcalfe, but to become an advocate for the community.
“I want to make a difference," he said. "I think I can do a lot more to help people and this will provide me the opportunity to do just that."
Smith said Seneca Valley officials support his run for office. He said began knocking on doors Thursday to introduce himself to voters—many of whom already know him as a principal. He added the residents he spoke to were hungry for change.
“I think they know what I stand for and they know my passion and they know they can trust me,” he said. “It’s been a great reaction.”
Prior to leading Haine Middle School, Smith was principal at Connoquenessing Valley Elementary, assistant principal at Haine Elementary/Middle School and a fourth-grade teacher at Haine Elementary School.
Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania last year selected Smith as its Educator of the Year for the 2010-2011 school year. He also was given the Pennsylvania School Study Council Leadership Award in 2007.
Married to his wife Desilee for 12 years, and the father of Jace, 5, Smith graduated from Slippery Rock University in 1994 with a B.S. in elementary education. The Adams Township resident received his principal certification for kindergarten through 12th grade from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and his Masters in Education, Special Education from Slippery Rock.
To learn more about Smith's campaign, visit his site by clicking here. Keep checking back with Patch for continued election coverage.