DUNCANSVILLE - To the applause of a hotel conference room packed with relatives, county Republicans and elected officials, Republican State Committee member Judy Ward officially announced her candidacy Thursday for the 80th District state House seat.
Ward, 54, a nurse and executive at Altoona-based Ward Transport and Logistics, is the first Republican to publicly seek the party's nomination for the seat, long held by state Rep. Jerry Stern, R-Martinsburg.
She first publicly noted her interest in the position in late November.
"It's time for me to get off the sidelines and get into the game," she said at the Comfort Inn in Duncansville, where District Attorney Richard Consiglio, state Rep. John McGinnis, R-Altoona, and a collection of party allies greeted her.
Standing at a podium bearing a new campaign logo and a newly unveiled website address, Ward of Frankstown Township noted her support for key conservative positions.
"We have older residents concerned about the rising costs of health care, working families concerned about making ends meet [and] parents worried about the future we're leaving our children," she said. Ward described herself as anti-abortion, pro-gun rights and a pension reform supporter.
On her campaign website, Ward said she'll seek to turn the pension system into a 401(k)-style plan and close the "Delaware loophole," a provision that allows some companies to pay less in Pennsylvania taxes.
She said she'll support reforms to public-school tenure rules while backing teacher merit pay and furlough reforms.
Some state Republicans have backed rules that would allow schools to lay off teachers for economic reasons while eliminating seniority-based furloughs.
Ward promised to refuse per diems, the day-to-day payments issued to legislators for work-related food and lodging expenses. She won't accept a pension and will post all official expenses on her website, she said.
"I think it's important that we make it more about service and more open and transparent," she said.
At least one other candidate has announced a plan to run for the 80th District seat: Jason Lynn, a Bellwood electrician, has said he will run as an independent candidate.
The seat opened with Stern's announcement that he will retire after 20 years, citing health concerns and a changing political climate in Harrisburg. His seat is up for election in November.
County Democrats have said they plan to run a candidate, but a name has not been released.
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.