Longtime local Realtors head announces as Democrat challenger to Saylor (York Dispatch)

This article was written by David Weissman and originally appeared in The York Dispatch on October 13, 2017.

The longtime leader of the York County Association of Realtors will try to unseat York County’s longest-serving state representative in 2018.

Steve Snell, of Windsor Township, announced Thursday, Oct. 12, that he will run as a Democrat in the 94th District, where Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, is currently serving his 13th term.

Snell served as executive director of the local Realtors association for 30 years before retiring in 2015. He previously held elected office as a Red Lion Area School Board member about 25 years ago, he said.

In a phone interview with The York Dispatch, Snell said his decision to run isn’t based on any one issue, though in his speech announcing his candidacy — which he posted on his campaign website — he spoke primarily about the House Republicans’ refusal to pass a Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction tax.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has been pushing for the tax as the Legislature still hasn’t passed a revenue plan to complete this year’s budget, which was due July 1.

Snell pointed to recent reports of state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, claiming he told Saylor not to let the severance tax pass because it would help Wolf get re-elected.

Wagner is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2018, and Saylor holds a leadership position as House Appropriations Chairman.

Saylor has denied Wagner’s influence and pointed out that he’s been strongly opposed to the severance tax his entire career.

“We have all wondered why, despite wide public support for fair taxation of (the natural gas) industry, the House refuses to consider it,” Snell said in his speech. “Every other state taxes that industry, so why would we ignore that source of revenue?”

Snell said other issues that resonated with him are getting rid of school property taxes — he said he would vote in favor of Senate Bill 76 to completely eliminate school property taxes — and eliminating gerrymandering.

York County has only one Democratic representative — Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, of York City — currently serving in the General Assembly, and many Republican incumbents, including Saylor, ran unopposed in 2016.

“The power of voters in this area has been diluted in part by gerrymandering, and also without good candidates to challenge incumbents,” Snell said, pointing out that his sentiment also applies to Republicans challenging Democrats in York City.

Saylor has faced a Democratic challenger during four of his past six elections, but he never received less than 70 percent of the vote, according to York County election records.