Addressing a roomful of officials from the state's 67 counties, Pennsylvania Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett stressed his policy of empowering local government and tried to appeal to anti-tax sentiments during his latest stop in State College.
Corbett was one of several Pennsylvania politicians to speak during the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) Annual Conference, held from August 8-11 at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. Corbett's opponent Dan Onorato and Senate candidate Joe Sestak each gave presentations at the conference Monday night.
CCAP officials said they offered each gubernatorial candidate 30 minutes to speak followed by 30 minutes of questions from conference attendees.
But Corbett did not stay for questions following his speech due to "scheduling conflicts," Corbett campaign spokesman Kevin Harley said.
In his speech, Corbett said he would uphold "fiscal discipline, limited government and free enterprise" if elected -- making a pledge to enact no new taxes and emphasizing his history as a public corruption prosecutor.
He also noted a growing trend among Pennsylvania's youth leaving the state for jobs elsewhere and said he'd focus on providing employment opportunities in the state.
Corbett also took a few jabs at his opponent when he referenced the drink tax -- first set at 10 percent in 2008 and lowered to 7 percent in January 2010 -- enacted under Onorato's term in Allegheny County. He also drew parallels between Onorato and Governor Ed Rendell's "tax and spend" mentality.
"I'm offering economic opportunity while he's offering negativity," Corbett said.
After Corbett exited, Fulton County Commissioner Bonnie Keefer said she was pleased with many of the ideas the candidate offered in his speech, especially his emphasis on curbing unfunded mandates and keeping youth in Pennsylvania.
"I was happy to hear that he wanted to keep our young people in Pennsylvania," Keefer said. "I know we've had an exodus of our educated students."
And Corbett said he saw many other heads in the room nodding in agreement while he was speaking.
But not everyone was completely sold on the candidate's pitch.
Tioga County Commissioner Sue Vogler said she saw both Onorato and Corbett speak at the conference, and Onorato seemed to be "more in with the people" at the event, participating in the candidate question-and-answer session.
Still, she said she would have liked to see both of them in a format that allowed for more comparison between the two candidates.
"Both focus on bringing business and jobs here, and on keeping young people in Pennsylvania -- so in that respect they were pretty similar," Vogler said. "I was glad to get the opportunity to hear them, but I think a debate might have been more informative."