[Article updated 10:20 p.m.]
Ronald Kolla , the 152nd Pennsylvania State Representative District Democrat candidate, held a fundraising event at the family residence of former Susan Worth-LaManna’s Huntingdon Valley home, June 15.
The casual evening was Kolla’s second major campaign event since the candidate’s campaign kickoff in Hatboro’s , March 28.
According to Kolla, in between events, he has started ramping up his campaign into full gear, going to over 1,700 doors so far, sending out approximately 1,400 informational cards and making countless phone calls to voters throughout the 152nd representative district. He also said, due to continuing contributions, his campaign staff is growing with several new hires.
At the June 15 fundraiser, Kolla announced the appointment of a campaign manager, and added that he is looking forward to holding more events in the Upper Moreland area.
“There’s a lot of democrats in Upper Moreland,” Kolla said. “It’s not such a bad thing to host an event in my opponent’s backyard.”
In the fall, Kolla will go up against well-known, three-term incumbent Tom Murt (R-152) for the state representative office.
En Route to the Campaign Trail
Kolla, a life-long resident of Montgomery County, is a graduate of . He went on to attend Temple University, where he earned degrees in Music theory and Vocal Performance.
Helping to pay his way through college, during which he was a full-time student, Kolla took jobs as an organist at several local churches, including in Horsham, in Maple Glen and more recently at Woodside Presbyterian in Yardley. Kolla has also been a jazz pianist for Carnival Cruise Lines for full production shows and cocktail hours.
Kolla is also an active composer, who has written several musicals. He has served as the Music Director for Upper Dublin Parks and Recreation’s Mid-Stage theater program. Most recently, Kolla served as a music instructor at Hatboro-Horsham High School, working with the school’s musical productions.
He highly credits his music education at Hatboro-Horsham High School to enabling him the opportunities of pursuing music as a career.
“I’ve been very blessed to have this ability to do this kind of work,” Kolla said, during his June 15 fundraiser speech. “And, it’s because of my education that I am able to do this, and getting that education is becoming more and more difficult.”
Reasons for Running
During his speech, Kolla recalled advanced music courses he took at Hatboro-Horsham High School, which, he says, have since been cut from its curriculum due to budgetary reasons. He added that tuition at the Temple University, an independently operated, but state-funded school, was $10,000 five years ago. He pointed out, today, the annual tuition is $14,000.
“I think it’s only common sense that if the state cuts from higher education, then tuitions are going to rise,” Kolla said. “I will vote against any budget that cuts money from basic and higher education.”
Working on a platform that includes costs and quality of education, Kolla said he embarked on his first campaign for political office due to his personal convictions against policies of the state government.
“I’m running, because I can’t sit back for two more years to wait and see what Governor Corbett will cut next,” Kolla said at the fundraising event.
According to a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, Gov. Tom Corbett’s budget does not replace millions of dollars in federal stimulus money that funded state education in the 2010-11 fiscal year, which, critics say, is equivalent to a cut. According to the article, proponents of Corbett’s budget say that the governor did restore state money that had been cut to basic education.
In addition to education, Kolla also advocates senior protection, including property tax-rebates and state-funded senior programs; creating jobs by repairing the failing portions of Pennsylvania’s infrastructure, as well as ensuring taxpayer fairness and public health.
According to Kolla, his goal of ensuring taxpayer fairness is aimed toward corporations of the Oil and Gas industry. In his campaign literature, Kolla points out that Pennsylvania charges Oil and gas companies a lower tax rate than Texas or Oklahoma. Furthermore, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website, Pennsylvania remains the largest natural gas-producing state with out a severance tax, which ensures that the producers pay costs associated with resource extraction.
In his campaign literature, he further suggested that revenue from the Oil and Gas industry go toward funding education and property tax relief.
“If corporations are like people, they should pay taxes like the rest of us,” Kolla said. “Gas companies should never be put ahead of hard-working families.”
Kolla called the current Corbett administration a “destructive path of the state,” and claimed that Murt is in “lock-step” with that administration.
“The choice is clear,” Kolla said. “If you want a government that doesn’t balance the budget on the backs of students and families, and a government to ensure that fracking is done safely and responsibly, then please vote for me, volunteer, and support my campaign.”
A Casual Fundraising Event
With the close of his second major campaign event, Kolla said that he feels his campaign is running successfully,
He said he enjoyed meeting voters in such an informal setting, and will post more such events on his campaign website soon.
“I think it’s great to see people in a less-structured environment,” Kolla said. “It would be so important to continue this after the election.”
According to Worth-LaManna, a member of the Upper Moreland Democrat Committee, the idea behind such informal events is to get to know the candidate as a person.
“It’s a way to meet the candidate at the casual level and talk about the issues, and ask questions where we can get full answers,” Worth-LaManna said. “We’re excited to get the word out that there is a relevant candidate running a relevant race in the 152nd.”
As this is his first political campaign, Kolla said that he made it a point to meet several seasoned politicians. Among the approximately 30-invited guests were representatives of local, county and state Democrat Party figures:
- Nick Scull - president of the Upper Moreland Democrat Committee
- Jason Salus - Montgomery County Treasurer
- Jeff Albert – former state senate in the 12th district candidate
- Deborah Crowe – state party delegate
- Steve McCarter – current 154th district state representative candidate
- Ruth Damsker – former Montgomery County commissioner and national party delegate
“I was really delighted Ron chose to run,” Damsker said. “I have a real concern about Corbett’s administration. We need to take the House.”