He’s hoping for a repeat performance in 2012.
Democrat and political newcomer Susan Spicka is waging a campaign to make his fourth term his last.
Kauffman was first elected in November 2004.
The district covers portions of Cumberland County, including Shippensburg and Southampton townships and the borough of Shippensburg, as well as part of Franklin County consisting of the townships of Greene, part of Guilford Township, Letterkenny, Lurgan, Southampton and the boroughs of Chambersburg, Orrstown and Shippensburg.
Polls will open Nov. 6 at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.
Kauffman, 38, of Scotland, Pa., said jobs and the economy will be his main focus because both are pivotal for everything else to fall into place.
“We have to have a laser focus on those issues — promoting Pennsylvania as a business-friendly location for businesses to locate and expand. We’ve already started that process, and I’m proud of the direction we’re moving,” Kauffman said.
But that history hasn’t always been friendly, he said.
Things have started to change. The tax and regulatory structure has changed, to a point, where organizations like Volvo, Olympic Steel and Ventura Food have chosen Pennsylvania, Kauffman said, referring to positive changes over the last few years.
“Policymakers in Pennsylvania want business to thrive and grow, so we need to just continue on that path. If we continue with that momentum, we’ll continue to see jobs created,” Kauffman said.
Franklin and Cumberland counties are great places to grow businesses, he said.
“We’re in a hub here. So, we have an improving business climate. The transportation infrastructure at (Interstate) 81 and the proximity to huge populations on the East Coast make us a great place to grow a business,” Kauffman said.
Jobs are No. 1, he said.
But he is a firm believer is doing more with less.
“We have significant challenges when you look at public pension obligations. Welfare spending is ballooning. There are challenges in front of us with transportation spending — all of those things will present challenges when it comes to balancing a budget and making sure that the tax burden doesn’t increase,” he said.
Kauffman said if jobs are growing in the economy, then the other issues aren’t as overwhelming.
“If jobs are growing, revenues to the state treasury will continue to grow as jobs grow and business grows and business taxes grow and the economy grows,” Kauffman said.
As a former English teacher and co-founder of Education Matters, Spicka, of Shippensburg, said her first priority would be to reform how the state funds charter schools.
“There is a bill in Harrisburg (Pa.) that would reform how we fund our charter schools. It has wide and broad bipartisan support,” Spicka said. “I would go to Harrisburg and sign on to that bill and I would work very closely with legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, to make sure that our local property tax dollars are going to educate children and not pay CEO salaries to advertise charter schools and to increase shareholder profits for profit, charter operation companies.
By regulating the charter school funding, Spicka said taxpayers could save $365 million a year.
She wants to create jobs by growing the local economy and get state dollars focused on this district.
“I would like to get Harrisburg to help work on programs that would offer our local, small businesses low-interest loans to grow their business,” she said. “I think we should start talking about the state helping provide training for workers who are out of work because there are a lot of open positions in Franklin County. Workers just need to be trained.”
Spicka, 42, said she never intended to run for office, but she believes Kauffman has lost sight of the needs of his constituents.
“My opponent is a career politician, and he is really out of touch with the families who are living in our district. I am going to be willing to listen to every voter in the district, whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat,” she said. “I will never serve more than four terms. I’m not looking for a cushy job for the rest of my life.”
Kauffman said he’s represented his constituents well.
“I share the values of this community. I grew up here. I’ve absolutely done a good job representing the values of the constituents that I represent from looking to reform welfare, looking to keep taxes low and opposing new taxes by Gov. Rendell over the last several years,” Kauffman said.
The race for the state house seat heated up when Spicka blasted Kauffman for refusing to debate her and for taking per diems.
A debate did take place July 11 at 8 a.m. on WEEO 103.7 FM radio. Talk show host Kelly Spinner moderated, asking eight questions submitted by listeners.
Spicka said neither she nor many community members were satisfied with the radio debate.
A lot of people commented that they wanted a public forum with the opportunity to ask questions, Spicka said.
“I think it was a disservice to the voters of this district that he refused to do that,” Spicka said. “As an elected official, it is his duty to be available to the public and to go out and share his ideas. And if he is so proud of his record in Harrisburg, I do not know why he will not stand by his votes and come out and defend every single vote.”
Kauffman said the debate issue has been settled.
“There’s already been a debate, and it’s on the Web that anyone can listen to. It’s recorded for all to hear,” Kauffman said.
Spicka took Kauffman to task for collecting $52 a day for lunch money.
She said in Kauffman’s first campaign against Doug Harbach in 2004, he made the system of unvouchered per diems a major issue, citing the program as an example of wasteful government spending.
“When families across the state are struggling to make ends meet, should he really be expecting taxpayers to reimburse him $52 a day for lunch on top of his yearly salary of $82,000?” she said.
Kauffman said the per diems are expenses of doing the job.
“They are a legitimate expense of being a representative, and they are very conservative and reasonable,” he said.
Kauffman said arguments about the debate that already happened and costs that are unique to his position are a distraction from the real issues.
Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories profiling candidates and races in the Nov. 6 general election.