Armstrong County worked with Don White’s office during his 18 years as senator of Pennsylvania’s 41st District. In the back room of the Senator’s office, a young man made sure the day-to-day operations were carried out to keep White’s office responsive to constituents.
Joe Pittman was selected by the Republican Committee to be on the ballot for a special election that will be held with the Primary Election on May 21 to pick a successor to Senator White following his resignation in February.
“It’s been an amazing experience since I’ve started on the campaign trail,” Pittman told a small group that meets for coffee every morning at the Subway in Manor Township. “I have knocked on over 3,000 doors already. This is a very large district – all of Armstrong, all of Indiana, part of Murrysville, then down into Valencia, and Sarver area. I have enjoyed meeting the people and having conversations and getting an idea of what is on their minds.”
Pittman was privy to the inner-workings of the state political system. As White’s chief staffer, he was instrumental in making sure things got done.
“To me, it all comes down to jobs and economic development. A lot of that has to do with community revitalization efforts. I think improving our downtowns and making our communities livable are a big part of it. Getting the infrastructure in place to bring growth and development up the Route 28 corridor I think is another big piece of it. I think we need to build on the infrastructure we have in place. I know we have a lot of challenges, but we have a lot of opportunity, and we must seize them. That has a lot to do with responsible use of the natural gas resources we have, our coal resources, our timber resources, and making sure we do that in a responsible way to create the wealth we need to grow our economy.”
Don White always credited Armstrong County with his success in being elected. For Pittman, he told yesterday’s group that he is “married” to Armstrong County although he lives in Indiana County.
“Armstrong County is special to me. I’m married to Armstrong County – my wife is from Rural Valley. It is my second home. I love this county. It has always been welcoming to me personally and my family. I am forever connected to it. I will always have Armstrong County at the forefront of my mind.”
Pittman sees Pennsylvania as having challenges in its workforce over the next few years.
“We have to connect our workforce with jobs available. I continually see where we have skilled trades – plumbers, welders, technicians, heavy equipment operators – those jobs are in demand. There are studies that show that western PA is going to have a huge employment deficit. There will be over 80,000 jobs in the next ten years that need filled because of retirements. We need to make sure that our young people understand there are livable wage opportunities right here if we get them the right skill set so they can take advantage of those jobs.”
As White’s staffer, Pittman often was seen in municipality strategy meetings. He represented White when a sink hole threatened the shut-down of the Kittanning Citizens Bridge. He was in the board room at the Armstrong School District as directors discussed re-purposing of old school properties. Pittman promised the coffee klatch group that he would continue being involved with municipalities.
“I intend to be very hands-on. I loved my work for Senator White. I love working with municipal governments to try to get things done. I love seeing streets being paved. I love seeing dilapidated buildings being removed and new buildings being constructed in our communities. I want to continue that effort. Our infrastructure is the key component. Nothing happens without our municipal officials. You can’t fund a grant when an application doesn’t exist. We need local governments to be engaged in those efforts and I want to continue to be a big part of that.”