A new era begins
VINNY VELLA/TIMES NEWS Doyle Heffley, seen here with his wife Kelly and his daughters Elizabeth (back) and Angela, christened his new Harrisburg office shortly before Tuesday's swearing-in ceremony.
Carbon County's first new state representative in close to 30 years was sworn in Tuesday to a packed audience on the floor of the House of Representatives. Republican Doyle Heffley, of Lower Towamensing Township, took his oath of office along with 28 other new representatives.
"We have a great block of reps in the northeast area of the state," Heffley said. "This new class combines a lot of new faces with some seasoned veterans, and I'm confident that we'll have a strong voice in Harrisburg."
Heffley hopes that this wave of new representatives will help bring some changes to the state's government, and has already set his sights on how to improve both Carbon County and the state as a whole.
"Creating a better work environment in Pennsylvania is very important to my colleagues and I. Economic growth and job development are number one priorities for us," he said.
However, despite this attitude of change, Heffley isn't planning on completely revamping his predecessor's policies.
"I definitely want to carry on the traditions known through Rep. (Keith) McCall, but I plan on taking a more conservative approach," he said. "I want to be the voice of the people in Carbon County, and I plan on getting their concerns heard."
According to Heffley, he has spoken with McCall multiple times since his election, and wished the former Speaker of the House the "best of luck in all his future endeavors." Heffley has inherited McCall's office in the Lehighton Borough Annex, which officially opens its doors today.
"I'm just excited to be here to represent Carbon County," he said. "We have a beautiful county with great resources and good people."
But Heffley wasn't the only representative of Carbon present in Harrisburg Tuesday. Friends, family members and supporters of Heffley, totaling 103, made the trek down to the state capitol for the swearing in ceremony.
Included in this group were members of the Carbon County Republican Committee, who have high hopes for the new official.
"I expect Doyle to participate in passing legislation that will not only benefit Carbon County residents, but the entire state," MaryEllen Salerno, the committee's chairwoman, said. "I hope he will bring common sense to the legislature that will result in more jobs, less spending and lower taxes."
The committee played a role in Heffley's campaign, distributing literature and signs across the county, as well as attending numerous rallies and fundraising activities.
Sandy Dellicker, the committee's treasurer, was also present, and echoed Salerno's comments on change.
"People have started to pay attention to our state's government, and I think all representatives are going to be held accountable for their actions," Dellicker said. "In my opinion, Doyle's already off to a good start, not taking the pay raise offered to state legislators."
And, while only time will tell what direction Heffley's term will take, his objective seems clear.
"I'm looking forward to working across party lines and getting things done," he said. "I didn't work this hard to get here to not make any changes."