Doyle Heffley, the Republican Candidate for Carbon County's voice in the state legislature, said he would like to debate the Democratic candidate Justin Yaich.

Heffley was one of six candidates four of them Republicans, one a Libertarian candidate, and one an Independent seeking seats in Harrisburg or Washington who participated in "Candidates' Night at Penn's Peak" last night.

The forum was sponsored by the Lehighton 9/12 Project and the Original Project 9/12 Tea Party of the Lehigh Valley.

Sandy Dellicker of the Lehighton 9/12 Project, organizer of the event, said invitations were sent to every candidate seeking state and national seats to give them an opportunity to present their platforms.

The forum was televised live by Blue Ridge Communications TV 13.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett was among the participants. Other Republicans were Heffley, congressional candidate Lou Barletta, and state senatorial candidate Steve Urban.

Jake Towne, an Independent candidate for congress, and Betsy Summers, a Libertarian seeking a seat on the state senate running against Urban also took part.

The moderator was Kim Bell, general manager of TV 13. Some audience members were permitted to ask questions of the candidates.

The program was held with a huge American flag draped in the background.

Heffley told the gathering of about 250 people, "I'm very disappointed my candidate did not come here tonight."

He added, "At some point in the future, I look forward to a debate."

Heffley told the audience about Pennsylvania's poor business climate the second worst in the nation and how 26,000 employers have left the state in the past six years.

"We need to make Pennsylvania business friendly," he said.

Also addressed by Heffley was the fact that only a low percentage of gambling revenue proceeds are being used for property tax relief. He said he would make sure this is changed to assure that all the proceeds go to relief for property taxes.

"Marcellus shale is a great opportunity for the state if done wisely," he remarked. He said Pennsylvania has more natural gas than Saudi Arabia has oil.

Heffley commented about the state budget deficit, and the deteriorating bridges and roads, noting these problems can be resolved without raising taxes.

"A lot of people say we've got to raise taxes," he said. "I say we've got to grow the economy."

In closing, he told the crowd that he is pro life, believes in the sanctity of marriage, and is a hunter and sportsman.

Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, stated to the audience, "If you're happy with the way things are going, then I'm not your candidate."

He said in the presidential election, "Americans voted for change. Americans didn't want to change America. America wanted to change Washington."

Concern was voiced by Barletta that the bloating national debt "will destroy America."

"Every generation in America has left the next generation a better quality of life," he said. "We all know about how hard our parents worked."

He said there is a threat this is not going to occur with the present generation.

Barletta, whose opponent is longtime incumbent Paul Kanjorski, is best known for his stand against illegal immigrants, noting he was the first mayor in the nation "to stand up and defend the people I represent." He said Hazleton's population grew 50 percent but tax revenues stayed the same and crime increased. He said he appealed to Washington for assistance, but the federal government ignored his plea.

"It is illegal to hire illegal workers," he said. "I didn't make that law. It's already a law in our country."

Corbett, who currently is the state attorney general, said that since 2005 his office has arrested 273 Internet predators, "men who tried to touch our children." He said the conviction rate has been 100 percent.

He remarked that he is not happy that state spending has increased 40 percent.

"I'm not satisfied with the culture in Harrisburg, that some believe it's their money and not yours."

The unemployment rate is the highest since Jimmy Carter was president, he said.

He lashed out at an ad by his opponent, Dan Onorato, who claims to have created 9,000 jobs. Corbett said these were government jobs and "unless he created other than government jobs, he hasn't created any jobs."

A goal, he said, is to make Pennsylvania number one in job creation.

Corbett said he doesn't understand why bridges and roads have to be in such poor condition considering that the state has the second highest gasoline tax rate in the country. He also was critical of the present administration using federal stimulus funds to balance the state budget.

Urban, a county commissioner in Luzerne County, said his Democratic opponent John Yudichak has been criticizing him about the corrupt government in Luzerne. He admitted there was corruption, stating, "I'm proud of the fact that I went to the FBI and turned those judges in. I'd do it again."

He said he supports Corbett and agrees that business taxes should be reduced from their present level of 9.9 percent.

"It's the small businesses who will turn this economy around," he said.

Urban was especially critical that the state government is not adequately funding the local court system.

Sommers explained the philosophy of the Libertarian party. She said, "The issues of overspending, waste, corruption, and taxes is a concern of all our taxpayers."

She was especially critical about shortcomings for veterans' benefits.

One of her priorities, she said, would be to eliminate pensions for elected officials.

Towne was appalled by the growth of the national debt and how unemployment has increased. He said today three of four Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

He said his main priority is that he will not accept money from any corporations.