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Rep. Knowles won’t seek re-election

Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-Berks/Carbon/Schuylkill, announced Thursday he is not seeking re-election.

The Rush Township resident and Schuylkill County native will continue to serve the remainder of his seventh term. He said his last day is Nov. 30.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to represent our communities in Harrisburg. It’s very humbling to have earned the trust of so many across a lifetime of service. But my wife Lorraine and I know it’s time to pass the torch to someone else,” Knowles, 73, said in a statement.

He’s been thinking about what he termed “one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made in my life” for months.

He didn’t plan on a career in public service initially. He graduated from the Thaddeus Stevens School of Technology, Lancaster. He had a job as a mechanical draftsman but then was laid off. He then applied and was hired as a police officer.

The dedication to public service is evidenced by serving as a Tamaqua Police officer, volunteer firefighter, borough councilman, mayor and county commissioner before a special election in 2009 to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Dave Argall.

“How many people who love community service have been able to do much in a lifetime. I continue to be humbled by the support of so many over the years. I couldn’t have done as much without so many wonderful friends and neighbors, many of whom turned into supporters, donors and advisers through the years,” Knowles said.

He credited his “outstanding” staff with helping him assist the constituents.

“They are some of the most hardworking people I know. They work tirelessly to guide those we serve through the layers of state government finding answers to their questions and solutions to their challenges,” he said.

Knowles said he is looking forward to spending more time with his wife, who he’s been married to for 48 years, children and grandchildren. He also wants to travel to Rome and Ireland.

House of Representatives career

He is majority chairman of the Local Government Committee and a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Knowles helped defeat a 16% personal income tax hike, cut more than $1 billion in wasteful spending from the state budget, and voted against a $2.1 billion gas tax. He was focused on trying to eliminate the state’s onerous property tax. He voted to fund local schools at record levels in Harrisburg to reduce the burden on homeowners meanwhile trying to funnel more money to school districts.

His describes himself as ardently pro-life and pro-second amendment. He is a strong supporter of local law enforcement and is against efforts to defund police.

“When you look back over a career in public service, you hope you made a difference for the next generation. There’s more work to be done this year, but I sincerely hope the America my grandchildren, and the America your children and grandchildren, inherit is even better than the one we call home today,” he said.

Knowles said if he had it to do all over again he wouldn’t change anything.

“It’s been a great run,” he said.

State Rep. Jerry Knowles takes the oath of office in January 2021.