Oberlander launches reelection bid for House seat

From staff reports

Incumbent Republican state Rep. Donna Oberlander (R-63) announced last week she will seek reelection this year.

In a prepared news release, Oberlander said she points to her strong conservative record, her clear and consistent voice for rural Pennsylvania, and her successful support of the 63rd District in Harrisburg as her basis to continue her service.

“This year will be unlike any other we’ve witnessed, and since it’s 2020, it’s time to forge ahead with a crystal clear vision of where we want to go,” said Oberlander said in the statement. “Since becoming the voice for the 63rd District, I have always put the people of our district at the forefront of my decision-making, whether putting up the tough votes on the House floor, advocating for projects to improve our communities, and advancing the critical priorities of rural Pennsylvania. That will never change.”

According to her announcement, during her tenure, Oberlander’s top legislative priorities continue to reflect traditional values within the district.

“That includes making sure that every tax dollar is used efficiently, reducing government regulations, lowering taxes, preserving the right to life, protecting our Second Amendment rights, and promoting our region’s top industries,” said Oberlander.

Oberlander said her hard-fought reputation has earned her the respect of her constituents throughout the three counties of the legislative district and her colleagues in Harrisburg. She has been elected to the House Republican Leadership team three times, most recently as Policy Committee Chairman. In securing that role, Oberlander is the first woman to hold that leadership post and the only one from the 63rd District.

“By leading the Policy Committee, I have the unique ability to take a look at challenges and issues around the state and bring home to the 63rd best practices and great ideas that will help our communities thrive,” Oberlander explained. “Strong leadership is essential in being an effective legislator, but so is being a good listener and learner.”

Being a part of the leadership team also means that Oberlander has direct input into the decisions and issues taken up by the full House and influence on the direction of state funding for critical projects. Over the past four years, Oberlander is responsible for shepherding millions of dollars in state funding for the 63rd District for a variety of infrastructure, economic development, and educational needs.

Oberlander, a Clarion County native, said she also continues to position herself as a leader on other issues as well. She is the co-chair of both the House Diabetes Caucus and the House Manufacturing Caucus. She recently co-chaired the House Gas and Oil Caucus and is still an active member.

Oberlander said on the energy and jobs front, she is currently leading the effort to push back the governor’s efforts to enter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which would have a detrimental impact on local coal-fired plants and the jobs they provide, along with the energy bills of residents.

Oberlander said she has had numerous bills become law, from repealing the Uniform Construction Code mandate that required sprinkler systems in new residential housing to allowing Pennsylvania to opt out of abortion coverage through federal health care exchanges as part of the Affordable Care Act.

Another law requires the state Department of General Services to establish a process to formally recognize all Pennsylvania-based women- and veteran-owned businesses.

Oberlander currently serves on the PA Small Business Development Center’s Advisory Board, and is a voting member on the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (Pennvest), which provides funding for water and sewer operations.

Oberlander said she is a proud graduate of Clarion University. She actively serves as a member of the university’s Council of Trustees and was reappointed to the post in the fall of 2018.

In recognition of her strong leadership, Oberlander has earned consecutive “Guardian of Small Business” awards from the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.

In 2019, she received the Pennsylvania Conservation Districts Legislator Leadership Award, Pennsylvania Defense Institute Robert Keaton Government Leader Award, andRural Health Legislator of the Year, as well as the Community Recovery Champion from theArmstrong, Indiana, and Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission.

Last year, she additionally was selected by theCouncil of State Governments to participate in the prestigious Henry G. Toll Fellowship Program, which isone of the nation’s premier leadership development programs for state government officials.

“The 63rd District has always been my home, and my mission every day is to ensure that this region grows and thrives for years to come,” Oberlander said. “The people of the 63rd are my top priority, and I want to continue working hard for them and being their strong and steady voice in Harrisburg.”

Oberlander and her husband, Derek, a United States Marine Corps veteran, have two children, Tori and Tanner. They make their family home in Clarion.

The 63rd District includes all of Clarion County, part of Forest County including the townships of Barnett and Jenks, and parts of Armstrong County, including the townships of Bradys Bend, Cowanshannock, Hovey, Madison, Mahoning, Perry, Pine, Plumcreek, Redbank, Sugarcreek, Washington and Wayne, and the boroughs of Atwood, Dayton, Elderton, Rural Valley and South Bethlehem, and the city of Parker.