First elected to the Pennsylvania Senate in 2016, Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) is now considering a run for governor. With Gov. Tom Wolf term-limited, the 2022 race is wide open. Several Republicans are vying to succeed Wolf and others testing the waters. Attorney General Josh Shapiro is thought to be the Democratic frontrunner, although Shapiro has not declared his candidacy.
Martin, a former county commissioner, who now chairs the Senate education committee, also sits on the appropriations, environmental resources and energy, and judiciary committees.
You are exploring a campaign for governor. Why?
I love our state and I think we have an enormous opportunity to be better – not just for Pennsylvanians today, but for generations to come. But to fulfill that opportunity will require leadership with a laser focus on fixing the many, many areas we lag behind other states, be it in economic opportunity, attracting new residents, competitiveness in the national marketplace, education, and much more. As a husband and father concerned about my own family’s future – and as a public servant concerned about the future of all our families – I want to restart Pennsylvania to once again make us a national leader in all these areas and more.
What have you learned from your current office that you think would benefit you as a governor?
Without question, we need strong and focused executive leadership in this commonwealth to position Pennsylvania for future prosperity. We need a governor who modernizes executive branch agencies and holds them accountable. And, we need a governor who will sit down with the General Assembly, collaboratively lay out an agenda for our future success, then work to implement it. This has been missing for the last eight years and our state has fallen farther behind. I have a long history of experience leading in executive roles and would get the job done for Pennsylvania.
What got you interested in politics?
After my athletic career ended, I worked in county government trying to change the lives of delinquent and dependent youth. As the director of this county government department, I was not happy with how the county was run by the then county commissioners. People encouraged me to put my money where my mouth was by running for office to make the changes I thought were necessary. I ran, won and the rest is history. Today, I still enjoy the feeling of competition as I compete to make my community a better place, hold government accountable, and lead for much-needed reforms. I love problem-solving and developing strategies to meet challenges and get things done.
Who are some of your favorite political leaders from American history?
Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington top my list. I enjoy reading about their leadership and communication styles, and the critical roles they played at important times in history.
What are some areas that you’d like to focus on as governor?
Pennsylvania has so much potential to grow. Unfortunately, our current governor has refused to enact policies in ways that attract the investment, people, and growth that result in family-sustaining jobs and increased prosperity for all. Pennsylvania’s fastest-growing age demographic is 85 and above. We continue to decline in population trends – and the congressional representation that goes with it – because we are not making our state competitive in the national marketplace, nor providing our families with the opportunities they deserve. I want to focus on policies that reverse that trend and again make Pennsylvania the national leader it once was. My issues agenda will focus on increasing educational opportunities; reducing higher education costs; reforming state government to make it more consistent, predictable, and accountable; ensuring a competitive playing field for job creators; and, implementing tax and regulatory policies that encourage business expansion and investment and the jobs that it provides. All of these issues – education, tax and regulatory policy, government reform – work together to better prepare Pennsylvania for the future.
Why should someone from “the other side of the political aisle” consider you for governor?
First and foremost, I’m a problem solver. I’m not involved in government to be a political bomb-thrower. I believe in efficient and effective government, reforming it for the betterment of our communities, and standing up to special interests. Throughout my life, with much credit to my parents, I’ve treated people with courtesy and respect, even if they thought differently than me. I believe that has made me a better teammate, coworker, community leader, and legislator. In each of my elections, I have strongly outperformed partisan registration with the results proving that I’ve always enjoyed great support from Republicans, Democrats, and independents.
You are from Lancaster County. Do you support the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline that was the subject of local, state, and national news coverage?
I am a believer in developing American-made energy, lowering energy costs, and reducing our reliance on foreign sources of energy. This pipeline is an important part of reaching that goal. In addition, in dealing with the Atlantic Sunrise project as a county commissioner, it was my duty to hold hearings and gather input right from the very beginning. It was imperative to be very involved to address concerns and ensure communication between the local community and the company building the pipeline. In doing so, we were able to move over 50 percent of the pipeline away from its original proposed route to protect environmentally sensitive and residential areas. The project was done safely and without incident here. Lancaster County has a long history with about seven major pipelines, including the Transcontinental, passing through our area without incident.
We have readers outside Pennsylvania. Why should people in other states care about and pay attention to Pennsylvania’s issues?
Though there can be many reasons, two big ones that come to mind are energy and higher education. Pennsylvania is a huge provider of energy into the PJM grid and the decisions that occur here can greatly impact energy costs for households, businesses, and local economies outside the state. Pennsylvania has the most colleges and universities of any state in the country and is a leader in higher education innovation. Our efforts here to make higher education more affordable, to reduce student debt, and to modernize the ways in which we ensure students are gaining needed skills to secure life- and family-sustaining jobs will have a ripple effect across nearby states and the nation.
What’s something you’ve not been asked by reporters that I can share?
I would say the one “qualifications” question I am not asked that I believe every citizen should ask of their leaders is, “How do you approach problem-solving?” For me, when I approach an issue to address or problem to solve, I am highly competitive to get across the goal line and achieve positive results. I attribute that to my long athletic history as a state and national high school wrestling champion, as well as a two-time NCAA All-American Defensive Tackle, and even my time in the Arena Football League. That is why I never approach an issue or problem from one perspective. Instead, I research to find out different views; I wrestle with it from different angles; and, I develop numerous strategies of attack. I think that is how I have been successful in public service at getting things done.
The one “personal” question that is not asked is really just, “Who are you?”
The easy answer is, I’m like everyone else – a person with a job, a family to raise, a spouse to spend time with, and laundry and food shopping to get done. The longer answer is that I am a Pennsylvanian through and through. My grandparents were from Philadelphia. My dad grew up in the Northeast before entering the U.S Navy, and my mom in South Philly, until her family moved to Delaware County. I was born at my dad’s naval station, and when he got out we moved to Lancaster County where dad took his first law enforcement job, and where they raised me and my six brothers and sisters. Today, my wife, Amber, and I are raising our children here and we do it like so many others: we both work, we’re busy with the kids’ schools and sports, I help coach football and wrestling, and when we can, we enjoy getting down the shore.