Articles & News 2006

From the January 28, 2006 Williamsport Sun-Gazette:

Feese says he won’t seek another term as representative

By DAVID THOMPSON

Brett and Gwendolyn FeeseWhen the state House of Representatives convenes in January 2007, it will be the first time in 12 years that state Rep. Brett O. Feese, R-Plunketts Creek Township, will not be among its members.

Feese, 51, announced Friday that he will not seek a seventh term as representative of the state’s 84th District.

During an interview Friday at the Sun Gazette, Feese said he and his wife Gwendolyn made the decision together. Gwendolyn Feese said the decision was not an emotional one.

“It’s been coming to this for the past few years,” she said.

“We went back and forth about it a lot during the last couple elections,” Brett Feese said. “It became a ‘family versus what you think you can get done.’”

Feese said that when he was first elected in 1994, he made a promise to himself that he would serve between eight and 12 years.

“I look back at what I said years ago. I said then that (politics) is not a career and I meant it,” he said.

Feese said he intends to focus on his family, which includes two daughters, Jessica and Lauren who are living at home, and his work as an attorney with the law firm McNerney, Page, Vanderlin and Hall.

“I’ve always needed a new challenge,” he said, citing his work as district attorney and the different work he has performed as a lawyer.

The backlash that followed the legislature’s 11th-hour vote to give itself a pay raise last summer played no part in his decision, he said.

Brett FeeseFeese, who is chairman of the House Republican Campaign Committee, said that Operation Clean Sweep, the political action group formed to unseat legislators who voted for the raise, has been good for the political process.

There are more people interested in running for office this year than he’s seen since 1994, he said.

“I think groups like that are good because they get people interested in the process,” Feese said.

In spite of the interest, Feese said he doesn’t expect many incumbents to be unseated in the next election.

“Including retirements, the turnover will be two higher than the average,” he predicted. “You won’t see a significant amount of change.”

Feese said that when he first arrived in Harrisburg he decided he wanted to do more than merely vote on issues.

“I said, ‘I can either push the red button or the green button, or I can put myself in a position to do more,” he said.

In two years, he was chair man of the Republican campaign committee.

House Republicans later elected him chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, majority caucus chairman and majority whip.

Being elected to House leadership was among the crowning moments in his political career, Feese said.

Feese said he also is proud of his work in extending Keystone Opportunity Zone legislation and the fact that Lycoming County was the beneficiary of the most zones and acres designated in the state.

“As far as economic development, that’s had the biggest impact locally,” he said.

Feese got the opportunity zones rolling when he approached Gov. Ed Rendell in an effort to get the designation for the local Kellogg’s plant.

The plant became one of 16 opportunity zone designations in the county, once the legislation was passed in July 2004.

In all, 48 bills have been signed into legislation that Feese sponsored, he said in a press release. He co-sponsored another 150 bills that became law, the release said.

“I’ve had a good run with legislation, with the number of bills I had passed,” Feese said.

There are still a number of things left to accomplish, however.

“Tax reform has to be at the top of the list,” Feese said.

Feese said he would also like to see the East Lycoming YMCA sports complex “get a significant start” and “help the Chamber of Commerce bring in a large employer.”

State Rep. Steven W. Cappelli, R-Williamsport, called Feese “a friend and mentor.’:  “Brett’s decision to retire from the legislature will impact Lycoming County in profound ways,” Cappelli said in an e mail to the Sun-Gazette. “His experience, commitment to our communities and leadership position as House Appropriations Committee Chairman will be sorely missed.”

Feese said he has no idea who will succeed him, both as a legislator and in his leadership role in the House.

“Whoever is elected will do a fine job,” he said. “We have a history of electing good people.

“Overall, it’s been exciting, rewarding, frustrating, and challenging,” he said of his years in office. “It’s been every thing I think you can hope for in a career.