Chris Gebhard, the incumbent in Pennsylvania’s 48th Senatorial District, is running unopposed in the Republican primary on May 17.

The North Cornwall Township resident will likely face Calvin “Doc” Clements of South Londonderry Township in November. Clements is running unopposed for the Democrats.

Gebhard, 47, took office after a special election in May 2021 to fill the unexpired term of Senator Dave Arnold, who died after a battle with cancer.

Read More: Senator Chris Gebhard announces plan to run for full four-year term in Harrisburg

Although his time in office so far has been brief, Gebhard said he is proud of his accomplishments to date.

“Last June, on the day of my swearing in, I got to vote on the bill to end the Governor’s Emergency Declaration Powers, thanks to the people of Pennsylvania voting yes to the constitutional amendments last May,” he told LebTown.

Also, he said, “I think we did some great work extending some of the necessary waivers to keep businesses operating as smoothly as possible. As the months progressed, we continued to make some of the emergency waivers permanent when appropriate. I am always happy to see Pennsylvania become a more friendly business environment.”

Senator Chris Gebhard joins other local officials in an April 2022 tour of downtown Lebanon businesses. From left to right: Gebhard, Lebanon County Commissioner Michael Kuhn, Mayor Sherry Capello, Congressman Dan Meuser, and Esmalin “Smiley” Peña of MamaJuana Lounge & Restaurant. (Emily Bixler)

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However, Gebhard said he is disappointed that Pennsylvania has “not had real election reform despite it being a top priority of so many in our district and across the Commonwealth.”

“The implementation of ACT 77 by the Department of State has been downright horrific,” he explained in an email. “The elimination of signature verification and establishment of drop boxes unequivocally promoted illegal ballot harvesting. We have seen some good bills pass the General Assembly, like HB1300, only to meet Tom Wolf’s Veto. Nobody should feel disenfranchised or their vote doesn’t count.

“Just last week the Senate passed bills eliminating ballot drop boxes and the use of private dark money by counties for elections, however the Governor has indicated they will likely see a veto as well. I am disappointed, but I will continue to fight for real election reforms with a main priority continuing to be Voter ID.”

Urges financial literacy

Gebhard, who owns an insurance and risk management firm, said his top legislative priority currently “is financial literacy for our students.”

“I will be introducing legislation to change the school code to require that a financial literacy class be taught as a graduation requirement for a high school degree,” he said. “We have too many young adults who lack a basic understanding of concepts like credit scores, home mortgages, and borrowing money for a large purchase. This results in our youth starting out in a proverbial hole due to poor financial planning.

“The goal with my legislation is to give our future generations good habits they will carry with them throughout their entire lives,” he added. “It sets up Pennsylvanians for success which in turn will set up Pennsylvania for success.”

He also said one of the major issues concerning Lebanon County voters is “medical freedom.”

“Let people make decisions based on their needs and beliefs,” Gebhard said. “I was happy to introduce a bill so employers could accept an exemption for the vaccine requirement.” He also cited “ridiculous claims and constant attacks on our right to bears [sic] arms, which is a central factor in our fight to protect individual liberty,” and “protecting the sanctity of life” through a constitutional amendment “that would forever end the question of taxpayer funded abortion in Pennsylvania.”

Rift can be mended

The rift between Republicans and Democrats “absolutely … can be mended,” Gebhard said.

“Out of curiosity I recently pulled the final votes up for all of the senate bills we voted upon in the past two weeks,” he said in an email. “Of the twenty bills we passed out of our chamber, over half were unanimous and over 3/4ths were supported with 90% or more for the Pennsylvania Senate.

“I think this demonstrates that while things may feel divided like never before, we still have more in common than we disagree with. There is no doubt that I see the world differently than some of my colleagues across the aisle but I think some level of disagreement is healthy and even necessary in the lawmaking process. Sometimes disagreement allows for conversations to start and for good ideas to be shared.”

Differing viewpoints, he said, are not an “insurmountable obstacle, but rather an opportunity.”

As for recent revisions to the map of voting districts in Pennsylvania, Gebhard said it’s “still too early to tell what the political ramifications will ultimately be.”

“What is alarming is that the slower than average population growth in Pennsylvania has caused the Commonwealth to lose yet another Congressman to fight for us in DC,” Gebhard wrote. “This trend should be of great concern for all Pennsylvanians as it is even more evidence of our young, educated citizens fleeing the state for high paying jobs elsewhere. We have got to get that turned around asap.”

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Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.