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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2000:01:01 00:00:05

Fred Keller meets Deer Park Lumber employees Joe Benko and Joe Zona.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2000:01:01 00:01:53

Candidate Fred Keller chats with Russell Gunton at Shadowbrook Resort. Also in attendance were, from left, Will Eggleston, Joan Jenkins and Pat Gunton.

Fred Keller, the Republican vying for the vacant 12th district seat in Congress, was in Tunkhannock Wednesday (April 3) with a luncheon at Shadowbrook Resort and a tour of Deer Park Lumber.

Representatives from local government, business and other supporters, listened as Keller spoke of issues “at stake in this election.”

Keller said his opponent Marc Friedenberg believes in “Medicare for all.”

“That doesn’t mean care, that means control, and that should concern every one of us,” Keller said.

Keller also brought up problems facing the energy industry.

“We have allies that are buying energy from Russia and countries that don’t share our interest. Energy independence is so important,” he said. “We need to stop transferring wealth and we need to have our allies stop transferring wealth to nations that don’t share our interest.”

Rather than transferring wealth to other nations, Keller said the U.S. should let allies buy its energy so earnings could be reinvested into roads, bridges, broadband internet and more.

“The control they want doesn’t stop with your healthcare, it goes on to how you travel, how you conduct business, and how we as America can have the resources necessary to reinvest in infrastructure,” he said before segueing into his campaign focus of “not letting the government define you.”

“That should be our plan. It shouldn’t be a government that pushes everything down to the people but rather us defining who our government is,” he concluded.

Don Sherwood, a former congressman and owner of Sherwood Chevrolet, was in attendance and noted the area’s dependence on industries centered on resources such as timber.

“It seems like the people in Harrisburg and the people in Washington are often making it more difficult for us to make a living with good use of our resources,” he said. “We’re all for you and I think you represent us well.”

The Keller campaign took polling data, which showed that a lot of people don’t know there’s a special election alongside the primaries on May 21.

Keller told constituents in the room that besides putting up signs in their yards and bumper stickers on their cars, they should make it a point to remind 15 friends to vote, and tell those friends to remind 15 others.

Wyoming County GOP Chair Davis Haire, who also came to the luncheon, said local Republicans need to win this election for Keller and send a message for the 2020 presidential election.

“This vote is also a referendum on the president, his agenda, and we need to continue to move that forward because we’ve never had the economy booming like we’ve seen in the last couple years,” Haire said. “We’ve got to make sure we control the House so we can redo healthcare as he (Trump) has promised and we can get that wall built.”

Following the luncheon, Ron Andrews of Deer Park Lumber gave Keller a tour of the facility, where he also chatted with employees.

Keller’s background is in lumber, as he spent 25 years with Conestoga Wood Specialties in addition to running his own small business. Presently, he represents Pennsylvania’s 85th district in the General Assembly.

“It brings back a lot of good memories and sort of reminds us, not just of the lumber industry, but there’s a lot of people who get up and work hard every day and it’s great to see,” he said, noting that he had actually done business with Deer Park in the past.

“It’s what our government is about,” he added. “An average guy who worked in industry and goes into government to represent their friends, families and neighbors.”