Cunningham replaces Hart as Democratic candidate

Mifflin County resident vying for 82nd District seat

LEWISTOWN — Mifflin County resident Robert Cunningham was officially approved to replace Kim Hart as the Democratic Party’s official candidate for representative in the state House of Representatives from the 82nd District.

Kim Hart, of Juniata County, recently withdrew from November’s general election after winning the party’s uncontested primary in May, stating she “couldn’t walk away” from her current teaching and coaching career if elected. Following Hart’s decision, the district opted to search for another Democratic candidate, prompting Cunningham, of Burnham, to step forward. His candidacy was officially approved by the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee on Aug. 6.

Cunningham currently serves as the vice chairman of the Mifflin County Democratic Committee and he also works as an executive director of member services and operations for the Juniata Valley YMCA in Burnham. He stated that as he prepares for the candidacy, he will take a “people-oriented” approach to his campaign.

“We are running on a party, but I don’t consider myself party-centric,” Cunningham said. “I want to be a representative for the people, not a representative for my party.”

If elected, Cunningham said he plans to focus his efforts on improving health care, job security and education as well as working toward a flat fee for property tax.

At 33 years old, Cunningham also said he’s excited for the election to include younger candidates. His opponents include Republican John Hershey, who is 24, and independent Elizabeth Book, who will turn 35 before Election Day.

“I honestly think it’s now the time for the younger generation to move into the political realm,” he stated. “Unfortunately I think that there’s too many people who have been in their positions for long enough, and I think now, the younger generations are the ones that are now shaping the world.”

With the general election only a few months away, Cunningham said he plans to attend a variety of events, including the upcoming Grange Fair, in order to meet members of the 82nd District and answer questions about his platform.

“It’s a very daunting process because there’s a lot to do now, but I’m very excited for it,” Cunningham said. “I’m very much a person that likes to hit the ground running, and that’s exactly what this is going to be.”