Maria Montero Hoppes got a personal look at Pennsylvania's new gubernatorial team celebrating the changing of the guard.
The Tamaqua area woman, who serves as chairperson for the Schuylkill Young Republicans, was among the guests attending the Governor's Ball at the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg last night.
"It was fun and very festive," said Montero Hoppes in a phone conversation this morning from the Crown Plaza in Harrisburg, where she stayed following the ball. "There were probably a couple thousand people there."
Montero Hoppes was part of the Schuylkill Republican delegation that was in attendance. She was accompanied by Todd Schweyer of Wilkes-Barre.
"The ball is always a very special event and time to celebrate, and we had a good time," said state Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-124), who attended the ball with his wife, Lorraine.
Montero Hoppes was amazed by how the Farm Show center was prepared into an elegant venue for the ball.
"This was the first time I was at the Farm Show for a formal event, and Tom Corbett's inaugural ball committee did an incredible job turning it into an absolutely elaborate place for the ball," she said. "They used carpeting; there were crystal chandeliers everywhere and great lighting effects. The band was fabulous. The feeling was intimate, and everything was energetic and upbeat.
"It was hard to believe that they were able to transform a building that had been used for the Farm Show a week ago like they did."
Montero Hoppes said a wide variety of different foods from around Pa. were served at the ball, including ethnic favorites such as pierogies.
"My favorite was the venison pot pie," she said.
Montero Hoppes mentioned she was surprised by the amount of people she knew and recognized that attended the ball.
"At first, I didn't think I would know many people, but I found out I knew so many people there from all around the state," she noted.
A lot of work went into electing Corbett, and Montero Hoppes was gratified to know the efforts of local campaigns such as the one she was involved with in Schuylkill County were appreciated.
"I have been involved in politics since I was in college, and on the local scene for the past five years, and it is kind of humbling," she admitted. "Just being involved in the election of quality candidates, I now have such an extensive network of friends.
"We worked so hard to get Tom Corbett and (Lt. Governor) Jim Cawley elected to the top spots, and we had a great time celebrating all that we put into this election.
"I really believe in this new administration. I think it's a great direction for Pennsylvania, especially with some of the property tax reform they are talking about," added Montero Hoppes, whose term as Schuylkill Young GOP chair ends this week. She said she plans to focus with the county party's senior leadership in the cultivation of candidates for upcoming elections.
State Sen. David Argall (R-29) released a statement, saying he is anticipating working with the new administration.
"Today is a day for celebration, but it is also a time to roll up the sleeves and make tough decisions that are in the best interest of Pennsylvanians. I look forward to working with Gov. Corbett in cutting wasteful spending, passing a balanced budget on time and working to make this state more job-friendly," said Argall.
"I have been in contact with the governor's transition team throughout the past few weeks sharing information from the Senate's Cost Cutting Commission which I chaired last year. The governor is looking at savings for taxpayers that amount to over $400 million which we identified with the help of business owners, community leaders, legislators and taxpayers throughout Pennsylvania. I look forward to working with Gov. Corbett and his team."
Knowles said Corbett's election was part of a "clear mandate" by the people of the commonwealth.
"The people have spoken loud and clear," said Knowles. "They want to see us cut back on government spending, and they want to see taxes reduced, not increased.
"There is a challenge ahead. I believe there is waste in government. We need to keep the core of our essential services, but cut back on the waste, as well as create new jobs and maintain the jobs we have. We need to work with small businesses and entrepreneurs.
"We all had a good time at the ball, but it's time to get back to work," said Knowles as he drove back to Harrisburg for a House session this morning.