Photo by Derek Eberly

16th Congressional District Debate Who will represent you in 2017?

In Download Live Wire by Derek Eberly

Democratic candidate, Christina Hartman, supports tuition-free college while Republican Sen. Lloyd Smucker said tuition-free college is “worth looking at” and Libertarian nominee Shawn House said, “anything that’s free, do people really appreciate it?”These were some of the positions heard during the 16th congressional district debate held by Lancaster Newspaper and Lancaster Chamber on Monday night at Penn Cinema in Manheim Township, Lancaster County. When asked if there was any topic during the debate that peaked his interest Millersville University student Devon Fabulian, 23, responded: “Education… I appreciate Lloyd Smucker’s having already been involved in that sort of thing and getting funding there.”

Twice during the debate education became a focal point of discussion when the candidates were asked to share their thoughts on issues such as student debt and the need for skilled and educated workers in the job market. Democrat Hartman reiterated her party’s commitment to making college affordable and addressing issue of student debt while Sen. Smucker pointed out his record of supporting vocational schools such as Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.

Hartman went on to share her support of an agenda that would make two-year community colleges free saying “we would be happy to fund those programs at the federal level.” Sen. Smucker stopped short of such a commitment saying, “I don’t know exactly what will be the best approach but it’s worth looking at.” While the Libertarian candidate, House, said: “I don’t know if giving free college education is going to be any better than giving free high school education.”

The candidates fielded prepared questions from the moderators, Executive Editor Barbara Hough Roda of LNP and Tom Baldrige president and CEO of Lancaster Chamber of Commerce, as well as written questions from the audience. Constituents filled the theater to maximum capacity and the event was live-streamed on as well as to an adjacent theater where over-flow seating was provided.

“It was a very organized and respectable debate,” said Nathaniel Assega, 21, student at Pennsylvania College of Art and Design after the debate “I mean they really talked through the issues very well I think and we got to figure out (like) where they truly stood.”

Registered voters may cast their ballots this week on Friday, Nov 4.