John Reynard, of Emmaus, has been chosen by the Lehigh County Democratic Committee as the candidate to face Ryan Mackenzie, R-134th, in the November election.
Berks County is expected to approve Reynard in a poll vote and the state party's executive committee is expected to make a decision this week to secure Reynard's place on the ballot in November.
Reynard sat down with The Press Aug. 6 to discuss his background, qualifications and goals for the 134th district.
Born in Wilmington, Del., Reynard began college at the University of South Carolina when he was 17. After college, he worked at AmeriCorps for one year before moving to Bethlehem to be near his fiancee, now wife, Stefany Kramer.
After working at KidsPeace, Reynard entered the MBA program at Lehigh University for a degree in finance.
He was recruited by The Princeton Review to teach classes in the area and then later given the opportunity to run all of upstate New York with The Princeton Review for three years.
He came back to the Lehigh Valley to finish his MBA which he completed in 2002.
He taught business, economics and finance college classes at Lehigh University, Lehigh Carbon Community College and University of Delaware.
Reynard married Stefany in 2001 and they have two children, Sasha, 9, and Will, 5.
They live in the home purchased in 1952 by Stefany's grandparents, Stephanie and LeRoy Kauffman. Stephanie worked at Allentown Hospital and LeRoy worked at Bethlehem Steel.
Reynard and his family moved into the Kauffman home in 2009 to care for Stefany's grandmother while she was terminally ill with cancer.
Needing a private-sector position with more upside to support his growing family, Reynard worked as a financial advisor with UBS in Bethlehem and Merrill Lynch in Allentown (Orefield) which was later purchased by Bank of America.
In 2010, Reynard started his own business, a private advisory practice.
Approximately two years ago, Reynard began attending the Lehigh County Democratic Committee meetings. After he saw Pat Slattery dropped out of the race, he attended the meeting to find out who would run as the democratic candidate in November.
Reynard walked out of the meeting with the unanimous vote as the Lehigh County's choice to run against Mackenize in the November election.
"At the age of 40, I bring a lot more private sector experience," Reynard said. "I have worked for multiple for-profit companies and in addition to starting my own business, I have helped others start businesses in the private sector."
Reynard said his experience with business, economics and finances will help him create jobs in the 134th district.
"Ryan [McKenzie] is still very young. While he is intelligent with a spectacular education record, he doesn't have a lot of real world experience yet. Whatever Governor Tom Corbett asks, he'll do because he doesn't have the experience yet to stand up for the people in the 134th district.
"I think he needs to grow and develop more before he can represent the people of the 134th district," Reynard said.
Reynard said MacKenzie has never worked in the private sector and has always been in politics.
"It is hard to represent the working families who have children, mortgages and bills, when you haven't experienced that yet," Reynard said.
"I understand and can have more empathy about meeting work demands, taking care of the family, financial responsibiliteis and all those things you do in your community to make it a great place to live."
If elected in November, Reynard said there are three things he would like to accomplish in Harrisburg.
Regarding the Marcellus shale, Reynard said the state is giving this away to out-of-state companies hiring out-of-state workers.
"With the money we could be making by taxing the same rate as Virginia and West Virginia, we cold reduce the sales taxes on Pennsylvania produced goods. Reducing those taxes will create jobs across Pennsylvania by recycling money we'd otherwise spend on out-of-state goods."
Reynard said there has to be a greater emphasis on the importance of education in Pennsylvania. "We need to study why we are losing so many of our best graduates. We need the state to step in and retain our best and brightest." Reynard said this idea was first proposed by former Governor Tom Ridge.
Lastly, Reynard said someone needs to be in Harrisburg to keep an eye on what is going on.
"Republicans have control right now in the house, senate and Governor's seat. I want to work with Corbett to make Pennsylvania a better place. I'm not going to agree with Corbett on many things but I certainly respect his position as Governor."
The 134th State Legislative District in Lehigh County includes the boroughs of Alburtis, Emmaus, Macungie; townships of Lower Macungie, Salisbury Ward 5, South Whitehall (Districts 3, 4, 5), Upper Macungie (District 4), Upper Milford (eastern District) and parts of Berks County.
"I'm looking foward to meeting everyone in the 134th district I can," Reynard said.
"I think democracy works best when representatives follow through on the voters' wishes."