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Hanna Jr. representing himself this time around

by on October 11, 2018 9:08 AM

LOCK HAVEN — When Democratic state representative hopeful Mike Hanna Jr. is out talking to voters in the 76th Legislative District, which includes all of Clinton County and the northern part of Centre County, he said he thinks back to a lesson his grandmother taught him when he was growing up.

“My grandmother said, ‘You got two ears and one mouth, and that is to listen twice as much as you speak,’ and I think that is important,” said Hanna, adding that he has knocked on 11,000 doors in the district leading up to the election. “The only way to solve issues is when you really listen and understand what is going on in the area.”

So, he has been out listening to people in Snow Shoe about their water crisis and the need for clean, fresh water, as well as their hopes to build a long-distance ATV trail in the area to increase tourism. He has been talking to parents and college students about the rising cost of education at state universities. He has been talking to businesses and hearing about their struggles to bring in workers who have the technical skills needed for their high-paying jobs. And, he said he feels these are some of the issues that he can help within the district and in the state if he is elected.


His dad, Mike Hanna Sr., has held the seat the younger Hanna is going for since 1991, and Hanna Jr. remembers hitting the campaign trail with his dad. Thinking back, the younger Hanna recalls a time when, as an over-exuberant youngster, he was carrying a bit too much campaign literature, trying to be as helpful as he could. He lost his balance and scraped up his knees pretty badly. But, that didn’t stop him from seeing the good his father was doing for the residents of the 76th District, and now he is hoping to follow in his dad’s footsteps — and he admits it is a bit surreal to be representing himself as the candidate now. And he knows he is ready for it.

“I remember those moments when he was talking to people trying to help them with serious issues, and I think that seeing what he did, and the way he tried to help people, is something that I would really like to try to do,” said Hanna.


After graduating from Central Mountain High School and Lock Haven University, Hanna Jr. has been busy learning the ins and outs of politics. He cites his six years of legislative experience and six years of executive experience in Harrisburg.

“At the peak of my legislative experience, I was a floor manager and had to know every bill and amendment on the floor and had to know the pitfalls of those bills and amendments. I needed to have negotiations and conversation with Republicans and reach across the aisle to figure out if we could meet those concerns and try to address the issues so we could get votes for bills and get them passed,” said Hanna, “which I think is important, to have those types of relationships to be able to do something like that out of the gate.”


Hanna said his experiences in Harrisburg allow him to know what do in order to help people and get things accomplished.

“You need to know what agencies to go to and have the contacts to be able to do that. It could be as simple as somebody trying to start a new business and they got held up in Labor and Industry or Revenue and know the person that they need to go to cut through the red tape and get their application or their issue moving in the right direction so they can get their business open on time. I like to think I know how to navigate the building; I know how to navigate the different issues and the different areas of the building, and who you need to talk to to get things done.”

Hanna said he also plans to continue to work toward making the capitol a place that is less influenced by lobbyists, and he wants to do that by banning lobbyist gifts to legislators. He said he won’t accept any gifts from lobbyists and he thinks that should be the precedent.

He also feels that it is important for legislators to work together on the issues, and do what is best for the state. Hanna proposes a “no budget, no paycheck” law, stating that legislators should not get paychecks if the state budget is not passed in time. He said he wants to work to get things done for the people of the 76th district and the state, and to do what he believes is the right thing for his constituents.

He said he won’t let nasty politics get in the way of doing what he thinks is right.

“I think it is the dialogue in politics is the thing I hate the most. You used to be able to get together and discuss the issues and there wasn’t this ‘Democrats are right and Republicans are wrong' or 'Democrats are the worst and Republicans are the worst.’ There wasn’t this tribalism. It was more about the person and their policies, than the actual party,” said Hanna.


Top on his list of priorities is helping seniors by protecting lottery funds, which support senior programs such as the property tax rent rebate program. Hanna already has helped stabilize Internet lottery programs to keep those funds lucrative for senior programs. And, he said he will fight to keep prescription drug cost down for seniors by protecting programs such as PACE and PACEnet.


He also wants to continue the fight against opioid addiction by continue supporting prescription drug monitoring programs and making sure law enforcement and first responders have the tools they need in order to assist people struggling with addiction.


An avid outdoorsman, Hanna said he understands the values of hunting and fishing and he will fight to protect those values in the area.

The connection of the ATV trails from Snow Shoe and Clinton County and extending them all the way up to the New York border is something he feels can bring tourist money to an area that really needs it. He said the Hatfield-McCoy Trail in West Virginia attracts visitors from all over who enjoy long-distance ATV riding, and he said there is no reason that Pennsylvania riders should need to travel so far when they could connect the trails right here, making Snow Shoe and northern Pennsylvania an even bigger destination.


Hanna said the cost of higher education has risen too much over the past 15 years, and he will work to get Lock Haven University and Penn State University as much state funding as possible in order to keep tuition from rising. He also plans to work to expand career technical education to help students learn the jobs skills that employers are seeking. He said Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology is a great institution that he wants to see continue to grow.

Hanna also said he plans to continue to protect corrections workers in the area.


Born and raised in the region, Hanna said he will keep talking to the people in the district, which he calls home, by knocking on doors right up to Election Day. He said he knocks because — like his grandmother taught him and his father showed him — he knows he has to listen to the people in order to help them.

(Editor’s note: This article continues the series on governmental candidates seeking election in the Nov. 6 general election. The Gazette continues to reach out to candidates in an attempt to tell their stories as the election draws near.)


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