Candidates for Lancaster County Congressional seat take the debate stage

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MANHEIM TWP., Pa. - The candidates for the 16th Congressional district, which covers much of Lancaster County, took the debate stage for the only time Monday night.

Anyone expecting the fireworks prevalent in the presidential debates did not see that, and instead saw a cordial debate with few attacks.

Perhaps the biggest question heading into this debate had nothing to do with the candidates themselves, but instead whether Republican State Senator Lloyd Smucker would still support Donald Trump. He says he still does, but distanced himself from Trump's comments leaked last week.

"I was absolutely appalled at the statements that we learned that Donald Trump made back in 2005," he said. "It was despicable, is completely indefensible and I will not try to defend it."

Democrat Christina Hartman set out to prove she was the choice that echoes the values of voters.

"We want good education for our kids, we want to make sure the economy is strong so that we all have good jobs, we want Social Security so that we can retire and we want to make sure that our taxes are used effectively," she said.

Libertarian Shawn Patrick House tried to differentiate himself from the candidates of the two major parties on education.

"Education is out there, but I think we have to relook at how it's being funded and the mechanisms," he said.

The candidates addressed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the effects of trade on small and big businesses in Lancaster County, with Smucker and House touching on Case in New Holland.

"It's an international institution so obviously they have some benefits but I'm really concerned about our smaller businesses," House said.

They also debated EPA mandates on farmers to protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

"These are big issues for children and families and we want to make sure they're protected in the right way," Hartman said. "I think government regulation is important, but needs to be cut back wherever possible."

One big disagreement was on the proposed Williams pipeline. Hartman and House do not support it, while Smucker evaded an answer several times before eventually voicing support.

"That decision is well underway, and will be made by Spring of next year, but if the process has been followed and if landowners have been adequately compensated I would support that project," Smucker said.


It was a debate of few gaffes or deviations from the candidates. If anyone attacked, it was Hartman who challenged Smucker, the presumed front-runner in this race, on his positions, but those were few and far between.