Molloy, Killion debate for Senate seat

They may be vying for the same Pennsylvania Senate seat, but Marty Molloy and Tom Killion have a lot in common.

That’s what came out almost from the beginning of the April 17 debate held at Riddle Village in Middletown Township near Riddle Hospital. The two are running to fill the state’s 9th Senate District seat vacated when Dominic Pileggi was elected to the Court of Common Pleas in November. The special election is April 26. All registered voters may vote in the special election, even though it’s being held as part of the primary election.

Both want the state to do away with, or at least modify, mandatory minimum sentencing. They want a severance tax on natural gas and both are proud to have poor ratings from the National Rifle Association.

“I love that I have a D-minus from the NRA,” Killion said when he was asked whether he would support allowing guns on state-run college campuses.

Killion, the Republican currently serving as state representative for the 168th Legislative District, said students should not be armed, but he would support armed security on campus.

Molloy said he’d work hard to receive an F from the NRA. He thinks allowing students to be armed is a “terrible, terrible idea” that wouldn’t work.

“We need a sensible gun policy. More guns mean more deaths,” the Democrat said.

They also agree that mandatory minimum sentencing is a failure.

Molloy said minimum mandatories take discretion away from judges and removes nonviolent drug offenders out of the work force because of the difficulty they have getting jobs after they serve their time.

He added that the current system “prioritizes profits over people.”

Killion agreed, saying too many people are in jail for nonviolent drug crimes.

“They shouldn’t be in jail. They should be getting treatment,” he said.

The candidates also agree that the state should be getting more money from the oil and gas industry in the form of a severance tax.

Molloy said even Sarah Palin, the former Republican governor of Alaska, signed a severance tax into law in Alaska, but that the oil and gas industry in Pennsylvania “has Harrisburg in its pocket…We’re the only state without a severance tax.”

Killion agreed there needs to be a severance tax, but said the situation is not as severe as Molloy described.

He said there is an impact fee for drilling in the state and that he has been able to get some of that money for projects in his legislative district.

A major area of disagreement concerns liquor store privatization. While Killion favors privatization, saying it would bring more jobs and revenue into the state while providing the customer with more selection, Molloy is strongly opposed.

Molloy called privatization the “Walmartization” of liquor stores where they don’t pay a living wage.

Killion said the current system for alcoholic beverages is out of touch with reality. People have to go to different types of stores to get beer, wine and spirits, and they can be prosecuted — or have their property confiscated — if they bring in alcohol from other states.

The candidates disagreed on where Pennsylvania ranks when it comes to funding public education. Molloy said the state ranks 44th in the country. That, he said, puts the burden of raising taxes on the local school districts.

Killion said the state has increased spending on education by 28 percent in the 10 years he’s been in office.

The Chester and Delaware County chapters of the League of Women Voters put on the debate.

The 9th Senate district includes Chadds Ford, Thornbury, Concord, Edgmont, Middletown, Bethel, Aston, Upper Chichester, Lower Chichester, Nether Providence, Chester Heights, Rose Valley, Brookhaven, Upland, Parkside, Chester, Eddystone, Trainer and Marcus Hook in Delaware County and Newlin, Pocopson, East Marlborough, Pennsbury, Kennett Township, Kennett Square, Birmingham, Thornbury, Westtown, West Goshen and East Goshen in Chester County.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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