Blair Dem Blog

News, Announcements, and Opinions from the Blair County Democratic Committee

September 28, 2014
by gkratzer
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Proposed Altoona Home Rule Charter

Just yesterday at our Altoona Dems Breakfast, Richard Flarend came by and brought us a comparative summary of the proposed Home Rule Charter.  If you haven’t made up your mind as to which way you’re voting on the charter – and you are an Altoona resident – you may find this summary helpful.  If you have any further questions, feel free to leave a question in the comments or plan to be at our October meeting on Monday the 6th at 7pm at the AFSCME Building on 161 Patch Way Road in Duncansville.


Altoona Home Rule Charter Proposal Summary

Mayor Position


Low/No salary

Member of council

Either retired or beholder to other job/employer


What should Altoona aspire to be? A successful city or a small town?

All PA cities larger than Altoona have full-time mayors.  Eight of the next 10 smaller cities also have full-time mayors

Home Rule


Full salary & benefits

Member of council

Makes all nominations pending council approval

Full-time dedication to City of Harrisburg, DC or wherever and whenever needed


Administrative Departments, Boards, Authorities, Commissions

Mostly mandated by 3rd class city code

Some created/abolished only by vote of city

Separate structure per 3rd class code


Home Rule

Flexibility to combine, create, and/or eliminate (by ordinance)

Some mandates remain from state



Initiative and Referendum

Current process is very cumbersome

1000+ signatures in 14 days at City Hall

Home Rule

Overturn an ordinance

Amend charter

Requires 1000 signatures by circulation in 45 days

No effect on taxes or salaries


City Manager

Professional day-to-day manager of city affairs

Appointed by council

Removed by council

Home Rule

Professional day-to-day manager of city affairs

Nominated by Mayor and confirmed by council

Removed by council



Introduced, 7+ day wait & publishing, passage, 7+ day wait

Home Rule

Propose for 7 days, 10 day minimum wait after passage

To change any department

To sell/lease any property




Cap on earned income tax

Virtually no limit on property tax

Home Rule

No cap on earned income tax

No limit on property tax

Ability to balance EIT and Property tax


No caps allowed under state law


Alanna Hartzok Meet and Greet Wrap Up

September 19, 2014 by gkratzer

Last night, we’re happy to announce that Alanna Hartzok received the official endorsement of AFSCME Council 83 for the November Congressional election.


Alanna Hartzok and Mickey Sgro


Deep discussion is the theme of the evening.


Our local Democrats come out to hear about real policies.


Donna Cohen talks about the mission of the Blair County Federation of Democratic Women


Mickey Sgro, Director of AFSCME Council 83, lets loose on the Republican incumbent who thinks he’s got this race in the bag.

Alanna Hartzok shares her policy positions.

Alanna Hartzok shares her policy positions.

September 14, 2014
by gkratzer
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September Meeting Updates

Here are some updates from the September Committee Meeting…
Thursday, Sept 18, 6pm-8pm, 161 Patch Way Rd, Duncansville: Alanna Hartzok Meet and Greet – Come meet Alanna Hartzok and help grow her campaign with your donations at this meet and greet sponsored by the Blair County Federation of Democratic Women in conjunction with AFSCME.

Saturday, Sept 20, 10:30am, place TBD: Day of Action for Tom Wolf – Come out and canvass or phone bank for Tom Wolf.  If you have an internet connected computer and a phone at home you can phone bank from the comfort of your own home!  Just contact us about phone banking and we’ll set you up with a virtual phone bank prior to the Day of Action.  If you’re ready to knock on doors for Tom Wolf let us know that you’ll be joining us so that we can know how much territory we an cover.  Email if you’re interested in doing your part to elect Tom Wolf as Governor and Alanna Hartzok as our next Congressperson.

Saturday, Sept 27, 8:30am, 6th Ave Kings: Altoona Dems Breakfast – Join local Democrats for breakfast and conversation at the 6th St. Kings.  Kids are welcome.

The Senator Ted Kennedy Memorial Scholarship – The scholarship is still available and Kathy Muller has updated the scholarship application and it is linked to the left.  Feel free to share the application with any student you know that is eligible.  The requirements are that any applicant should be a current college student who is a registered Democrat and a resident of Blair County.  Any questions about the scholarship can be directed to Kathy Muller (
Fall Banquet, Sunday, October 19, 5:30pm, The Casino at Lakemont – Join us for our annual banquet to honor a year of hard work by our committee members and our Democratic volunteers and take a night to get energized to finish out the fall election season on a winning high.  This year you can purchase tickets online.  Tickets and ads are also available by talking to a committee member or you can email  Even if you can’t make it, consider making a donation to the party by buying a $10 patron ad.  For only $10 we will list your name in our banquet booklet as a supporter of the Blair Democrats.  You might also consider donating an item or a basket for our annual silent auction.
Liz Barr, our Fall Banquet coordinator is still looking for people to help plan the banquet so email her at to let her know you want to help.
Candidate for US Congress, Alanna Hartzok will be joining us and as soon as we get confirmations from other speakers we will let everyone know.  In the meantime, buy your tickets early!
Finally, I just want to say that I’m recently back from the September State Committee meeting and now is the time that we all need to get fired up.  Remember that as great as the polls look, if you don’t go out to vote and if you don’t get your family and friends and neighbors out to vote Tom Wolf cannot win.  Polls don’t elect candidates, voters do.  That means you and me and every Democratic in our county.  If everyone puts just two hours a week into getting the word out about our campaigns you will see that difference on election night.  Now is the time to turn it up to 11!

September 9, 2014
by gkratzer
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Kennedy Scholarship Update

Thanks to everyone who came to our September meeting.  The Senator Ted Kennedy Memorial Scholarship application has been updated.  Click the previous link to download the application.  If you’re interested in the scholarship or know someone who would be, contact Kathy Muller (  The scholarship is worth $1000 and any student, 18 or older, who is a registered Democrat and a Blair County resident is eligible.


August 6, 2014
by gkratzer
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August Meeting Updates

Last night was our August meeting and here are some updates on what we discussed.

Fundraising is extremely important.  We now have an ActBlue page which will make it easy and convenient to invest in the Blair Democrats online.  Click on the ActBlue fundraising meter to donate now:
Goal Thermometer

Whatever you can give helps us work toward electing Democrats in Blair County and Pennsylvania at large.


The Fall Banquet is scheduled for October 19 and will be at the Lakemont Casino & Resort again this year.  We have lots of new and exciting options this year.  For starters, you can buy tickets online.  This year you can buy either individual tickets or purchase a whole table.  We’re also looking into doing a room for kids, with kids tickets for only $10 (way less than a babysitter for the evening).

We are also offering the opportunity for campaigns or businesses to sponsor drink tickets, hors d’oeuvres, or even a chocolate fountain.  The same form contains the sign-up for donating baskets or items for our annual silent auction.  Click here for the sponsorship form.

We are currently in the process of deciding on speakers for the event and we’ll update you as soon as we confirm speakers.

As always, the Fall Banquet is our biggest event of the year and planning it is a huge job.  Liz Barr has volunteered to lead the banquet planning committee, but she’s going to need help.  If you’re interesting in being a part of the banquet planning committee, email Liz at

We’re still lining up speakers, but we’ll let you know as soon as we have confirmed our line up.


The Blair Democrats will be participating in this year’s Labor Day parade in Altoona.  The parade is Saturday, August 30 at 10am in downtown Altoona.  We’ll be meeting at 9:30am at 9th and Green.  We want to encourage everyone to join us in the parade to show our support for labor.   If you’re interested in walking with us email

Finally, if you haven’t already, please fill out our Getting to Know You form to let us know what kind of volunteer opportunities you’re interested in.  We’re going to need a lot help making phone calls, knocking on doors, and more for both the Wolf and Hartzok campaigns starting very soon.


Thanks so much to everyone who came to our most recent meeting.  Our meetings are open to all registered Democrats.  Our next meeting will be September 8 at 7pm at the AFSCME building in Duncansville.  Children are welcome, we will have a babysitter available.


August 2, 2014
by gkratzer
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Fall Banquet Tickets: Buy Them Now!

Join us for the annual fall banquet to celebrate Democrats and democracy in Blair County! Democrats from across the county will gather on Sunday, October 19, 2014 at the Casino at Lakemont Park in anticipation of a Tom Wolf victory in November.

Doors will open at 5:30, with a cash bar at 6:00 and dinner served at 6:30. This will be followed by a slate of guest speakers, TBA.

Individual tickets are available for $30 or you may reserve a table for 8. We are currently exploring options for children’s meals and activities based on demand.

You may also purchase ads for our fall banquet booklet, which is distributed to all attendees at the banquet. A member of the banquet committee will be in touch to confirm the details for your ad, or you can email your ad information right away to Liz.

Contact Liz Barr, banquet coordinator, with any questions about the event:, 814.934.4137.


July 27, 2014
by gkratzer
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Demfest is Coming!

Are you ready for Demfest? If you haven’t heard of it, Demfest is an event held every other year at Knoebels Amusement Park. Parking is free, admission to the park is free, there is an optional $10 classic picnic lunch and a full day of fun, music, speakers, and getting to know Democrats from across Pennsylvania. If you’d like to buy tickets to the picnic lunch, you can buy them HERE.

DemFest 2014 Flyer

If you’re interested in carpooling or just leaving along with us, email

July 10, 2014
by gkratzer
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Getting to Know You

In an effort to help our local Democrats get connected with the campaigns that they’re most interested in being involved with doing the things they’re interested in doing, we’ve created this short questionnaire.  You may have received it in your email.  If you did and filled it out, you’re good to go.  If you didn’t receive it, make sure to fill it out and add your email address so that we can make sure you’re on our list for future emails.

Thanks so much for your help!


July 8, 2014
by gkratzer
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July Meeting Recap

In case you missed our July meeting, here’s a quick recap of what you need to know:

        • Our new Executive Committee was introduced, including the following people
          • Ned Kratzer – Vice Chair, 79th District
          • Marsha Hunter – Vice Chair, 80th District
          • Tom Patterson – Treasurer
          • Secretary – Ashton Romano
          • Parliamentarian – Jason Imler
          • Sgt-at-Arms – Patrick Brett
          • Labor Rep. – Tim Miller
          • BCFDW* Rep – Donna Cohen
        • Tom presented our treasurer’s report.
          • Although we are no longer maintaining a physical office, the Blair Democrats still need funds to support our ability to work effectively.  If you’re interested in investing in the party, you can contact Tom Patterson ( or Gillian Kratzer (
          • Moving forward, here are a few things that we hope to be able to accomplish with the investments of local Democrats.
            • A new and improved web presence.
            • Taking two students to the September State Committee meeting.
            • Helping Democratic candidates by providing them the resources they need to reach voters in Blair County
            • Reaching out to new voters.
            • Maintaining administrative costs like the phone bill, stamps, toner, and other office supplies.
        • The Report from State Committee
          • State Committee was an inspiring and educational experience, from which we’ve brought back some great new ideas.
          • Frank Rosenhoover was reelected as the Chair of the North Central Caucus.
          • Our new Chair, Gillian Kratzer, joined the LGBT Caucus.
          • Jim Burn was reelected as State Party Chair; Penny Gerber was reelected as Vice Chair; Jack Hanna was reelected as Treasurer.
        • New Business
          • Volunteer form – Be on the lookout in your email for our new “Getting to Know Your” questionnaire.  It’s a short form designed to help us reach out to the people most interested in a specific issue or task.
          • Childcare Committee – starting next month we’ll be meeting at the AFSCME building, where we’ll have plenty of space for those of us who need to bring our kids along to meetings.  To that end, we’re working on forming a childcare committe, a group of people who would take turns watching children at our meetings.  Angelique Thayer has kindly volunteered to head up that committee, so please contact us if you’re interested.
          • VoteBuilder Training – VoteBuilder is a program that we are provided the use of by the Democratic Party.  If you are a committee member and are interested in training on VoteBuilder, email Gillian at
          • ActBlue – ActBlue is a site dedicated to fundraising for causes, campaigns, and party committees.  With ActBlue, we’ll be able to begin to raise funds online.
          • August Meeting – Monday, Aug 4 at the AFSCME Building, 7pm (preceded by a self-pay dinner at Hoss’s at 5:30pm)
        • Upcoming Events
          • Blair County Federation of Democratic Women Meeting
            • Wednesday, July 16, 6pm, Hoss’s in Duncansville
          • Blair Democrats Annual Summer Picnic
            • Sunday, July 20 from 2pm to 5pm.
            • Highland Park, pavilion 1.
            • Adult tickets $3, children free.  You can pay when you get to the picnic, but in order to know how many people will be attending, we’d appreciate it if you could call (814-944-9924) or email ( so we can have a rough count.
            • Alanna Hartzok, Democratic candidate for the 9th District will be attending.
            • Several representatives of the Wolf campaign will be attending and they’ll have yard signs, pins, and bumper stickers with them.
          • African-American Heritage Festival
            • Saturday, July 26, 12pm – 6pm at PSU Altoona
            • We’ll be working on registering people to vote.  If you’re available to work our table from 11-2, 2-4, or 4-6:30 please email
          • Fall Banquet
            • Liz Barr has graciously volunteered to lead the Fall Banquet committee. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Liz at
            • The Banquet has been scheduled for Oct 19 – Save The Date!
        • Campaigns
          • If you are interested in getting involved in the Hartzok campaign, email Gillian (see email above

Our final business of the evening was to discuss student voting.  In Blair County, our solicitor is of the opinion that students have to go home to vote.  This is is clearly stated by Pennsylvania’s voter website.

If you’re a student in Pennsylvania who has moved to a new county or a new state to attend college, you can still vote. As a college student, you have two choices on where you register to vote. You have the right to register and vote where you live now, whether that is an on-campus or off-campus address. Or, you may choose to register or remain registered and vote at your prior home address.

We are working on forming a team to address the issue of maintaining students’ full voting rights.   Students are a group that are often discriminated against when it comes to voting.  If you are interested in working with us to protect student voting rights, please contact Gillian (