Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski visited Lehighton on Wednesday to announce his candidacy for the governor's seat.
Pawlowski will vie in the May 20 primary election for his party's nomination to the November 2014 ballot against a slate of fellow Democrats that so far include announced candidates Montgomery County congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, York County businessman Tom Wolf, former Department of Environmental Protection heard John Hanger; former DEP secretary Kathleen McGinty, Cumberland County pastor Max Myers and Cumberland County Commissioners Jo Ellen Litz.
Republicans who have announced their candidates, who include incumbent Governor Tom Corbett and former radio announcer Tom Lineaweaver.
Pawlowski, whose platform is based on job creation and economic development, believes he can oust Corbett in the 2014 general election.
"As you know, our state is going in the wrong direction," he said at a campaign stop at the Democratic Information Center in downtown Lehighton. "Our roads and bridges are crumbling, our schools are failing. We went from seventh to 49th in job growth in three years."
Lehighton was one stop on Pawlowski's 23-county campaign tour, begun Sept. 9.
His platform is built on the foundation of Allentown's economic revival and job creation under his leadership. He took the state's third largest city from the verge of bankruptcy to success, and believes he can duplicate that success on the state level.
Pawlowski said the city has gone from "multimillions in deficits to multimillions in surpluses" since he took office eight years ago.
He pointed to the construction, now under way, of a hockey arena and surrounding businesses in downtown Allentown. The project, he said, would generate thousands of jobs. The project also uses American made steel and other materials, which also creates jobs, he said.
Pawlowski decried Corbett's cutting of about $1 billion in education funding, and of the state's legislative gridlock.
He said elected officials need to "get past this gridlock and work across party lines to get things done."
Pawlowski also cited the need for Pennsylvania to fall in line with other states in "appropriately regulating" and in levying a severance tax on companies that drill Marcellus shale. He said those states, which include Texas and West Virginia, have thriving gas drilling projects.
After speaking, Pawlowski fielded questions from the audience. They included Carbon County Commissioner William O'Gurek, who asked about property tax reform Pawlowski said it's needed and the deep cuts Corbett has made to education and social services to senior citizens, children, and other populations.
"We need to look at how to reform the (tax) system," Pawlowski said. "We can't keep pushing the tax burden onto the lowest level."
He suggested levying a tax on Marcellus shale drillers could bring in sufficient tax dollars to restore funding to education and social programs.
On hand to welcome Pawlowski were Carbon County Democratic Chairman William O'Gurek Jr., and about a dozen others.