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The United States Congress refers to the bicameral parliamentary system provided by the constitution. It is distinct from the other organs of government. The bicameral legislature is made up of two houses, namely the senate, which is composed of two senators representing each state, and the House of Representatives whereby members are elected by considering their demographic distribution. The House of Representatives is made up 435 seats. Todd Russell is one of those individuals who occupied those seats. Todd Russell was a Republican politician representing Pennsylvania’s 19th Congressional District since 2001. He officially retired in 2012.
The 19th Congressional borough is made up of Adams, York province, and sections of Cumberland region. This paper describes a congressional and electoral profile of Todd Russell by explaining his earlier life and career before joining the House of Representatives. The paper also presents his achievements, failures, and his current career. While giving the profile, the discussion will also consider the voting record, ideology, and district characteristics.
Early Life and Career and Personality of Todd Platts
Congressman Todd Russell Platts was born in York County on March 1962. He spent most of his childhood in York and attended the York Suburban Senior High School where he graduated in 1980. According to Platts he then proceed to a domestic university in Pennsylvania (Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania) where he graduated with a degree in Public Administration in 1984 (Para. 3). Pepperdine is a mid-sized university that has links with the Churches of Christ, hence an indication of the good and humble background that Mr. Platts was nurtured.
He has been recorded thanking the parents for nurturing him in a stable and establishing for him a foundation for prosperity. After graduating from the law school, he commenced his career as an advocate and associate in a legal firm: Barley, Synder, Senft, & Cohen law firm. According to Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he first appeared in the public limelight as early as 1991 when he became a representative of the 196th legislative district replacing Ruth B. Herper in Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives (8).
Currently, Platts has Leslie Platts as his wife. The partners have been blessed with two teenagers. He is a fun of music and books. It is likely to find him reading a number of books that his wife, Leslie, brings from the library every two weeks. He loves driving and often drives to get time to meditate about forthcoming hearings or vote. Being a staunch Republican, he was at times compelled to go by the stand of the party even when he thought that a majority of the electorate in Pennsylvania’s 19th Congressional District would have a contrary opinion. For instance, he supported the amendment of military illegalization of homosexuals in the troops although he thought that a majority of the electorates would have voted against the idea.
Some of the things that give him the gusto in his political and social life are his family and electorates from the 19th Congressional District. During his tenure as a congressional representative, the walls of Platts’ office were covered with funeral plans, pictures, as well as other military souvenirs of the troops that died in the field while being members of the 19th Congressional District. Other sections of the walls were covered with pictures of his family, artworks, and class assignments. One would consider it strange. Nevertheless, he had a Halloween costume and a cushion written ‘love you dad’ that was probably decorated by the son. His mentor is his family, and in particular the mother, Barbara Platts (who was 81 at the time of writing this paper). The family memorabilia were a clear indication of his love and value for his family. He was a key paragon of good leadership.
Platts: The Congressman
As mentioned earlier, Platts served in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives for 8 years since1992-2000 (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 8). From 2001, he was elected representative of the 19th Congressional District of Pennsylvania in the US House of Representatives as a Republican. He served in the post for three consecutive congresses although he did not offer his candidature to be reelected in 2012. When he first presented his candidature for the post of 19th Congressional District Representative, he faced competitive candidates during the Republican primary. He successfully got the Republican nominee ticket.
However, when he got to the general elections, he easily emerged victorious by beating his immediate rival: Democratic candidate, Prof. Jeff Sanders. He assumed office in January 2001 replacing his antecedent William F. Goodling who had failed to present his candidature for the election.
As a congressional representative, Platts was steadfast in endorsing policies that ensured moral restructuring of the campaign system as well as the government. His desire for a campaign system and government driven by strong moral principles was in his actions. He consistently declined to take funds raised by the political action committee and instead depended on funds raised by his campaign well-wishers who were made up of a broad network of relatives and devotees, most of whom were childhood allies.
He based his leadership on tenets. He supported an initiative, project, or legal policy on the grounds of ethics and its benefit to the society rather than on party loyalty. Credit can be given to those who supported the privatization of the social security because it has benefitted a huge chunk of the population. For example, in 2004 alone, the plan rewarded 500 million dollars to subscribers. The plan is currently one of the largest government programs in the US and globally with respect to the revenue that the state retrieves from the subscribers.
Looking at the voting record of Platts, he goes contrary to the voting patterns of the district that he represented. He was moderate unlike his conservative electorates. Although he was a Republican, he endorsed the idea of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, a biomedical technology that has raised many ethical questions especially among pro-life politicians, human rights activists, and religious groups. Only pro-choice advocates would advocate for the destruction of embryos to extract stem cells for the treatment of chronic ailments such as cancer, diabetes, and cardiac attack. In his early political life when he represented the 196th legislative district, he was a staunch pro-choice advocate. However, he transformed gradually to a pro-life politician when he joined the US House of Representatives.
Platts’ transformation to a complete pro-life politician was evident by staunch opposition against the NARAL Prochoice America. The movement is made up of pro-choice politicians who counter the efforts to limit abortion and instead call for enactment of policies that provide a wider platform for people to practice abortion. The organization was launched by Bernard Nathanson and other co-founders, Larry Lader and Betty Friedan under the pseudonym National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws and later on modified their name to National Abortion Action League following the ruling made in Roe v Wade that reiterated the right to confidentiality, and in particular on issues pertaining to procreation.
It was further renamed to its current name NARAL Pro-Choice America stirring a huge campaign in the effort to make abortion a major matter during the 2004 campaigns. The organization supported the candidature of President Obama during the 2008 presidential elections.
He was also steadfast in opposing efforts made by the federal government to fund the financial industry as well as automakers. He was among the 16 Republicans who voted against Omnibus Appropriations Act that was later passed by a vote of 245/178. The legislation was intended to raise the expenditure for Fiscal Year 2009 to 410 billion dollars while incorporating other nine appropriation rulings that had failed to be endorsed by the House of Representative in the preceding year. He further opposed the 2010 Budget Resolution as considered that it would fuel a monetary crisis in the country. Probably, it was due to his active participation in both the political and social life that deterred the Democratic Party from nominating a candidate to oppose him in the Congress election conducted in 2002 and 2004. Nonetheless, during the 2002 elections, he had trivial competition during the Republican primary.
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In 2006, he had two strong rivals, namely Derf Maitland and Phil Avillo who were both nominated by the Green Party and Democratic Party respectively. Come the general elections, the electorates confirmed their trust when they gave him 60% percent of the vote whilst Avillo and Maitland shared the remaining votes at 33% and 3% respectively. Nevertheless, Avillo did not give up. When the elections were held in 2008, he presented his candidature. As anticipated, Platts won with even a greater margin of about 66.7%, thus making him one of the most prosperous Republican Congress politicians from the Northeast.
Summary of Voting Record
During his tenure, he directly sponsored 28 Bills. For instance, he sponsored the Heritage Homes Tax Incentive Act of 2009 that was aimed at altering the Internal Revenue Code in an effort to cut tax on the revenue paid by the residents of heritage homes. In this instance, the heritage home referred to an individual’s main residence that has existed for over five decades. Such homes have been confirmed as historic buildings built in historic districts. The bill was submitted to the House Committee on Ways and Means on January 2009. He also presented a proposal to the Congress that would help in appreciating the gains made when parents invest in children education through the National Family Literacy Day. This proposal was tabled before the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education.
Todd also sponsored a law that was aimed at altering the provision of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 so that the routine pay modifications received by the Congressmen were removed. It is also worth mentioning that the Digital Television Coupon Improvement Act modified the preceding act (Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act) so that the coupons that were to be used in getting digital transmission boxes to be terminated by the end March 2009. The Act was presented before the Congress on January and later taken to the Subcommittee dealing with Communications, Technology, and the Internet. Some of the bills that he cosponsored include Death Repeal Act of 2009, Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee Act of 2009, Retired Pay Restoration Act, Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009, and the Rural Education Achievement Program Reauthorization Act.
The Congressman served in various committee assignments, which include Committee on Armed Service, the Committee on Education and Labor, and Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Prior to his retirement from politics, he spearheaded the House Subcommittee on Government Organization, Efficiency, and Financial Management. He was an assistant for the congressional task force assigned to deal with how to handle the serious brain injuries that most of the troops from Iraq suffered. The task force proposed further studies on the issue, provision of more treatment facilities, as well as providing sufficient support for the victimized families. Notably, Todds supported whistle-blower protection policies to shield federal employees who report government employees who engage in corrupt and fraudulent acts. Moreover, he supported the need to introduce laws that compel electric utilities to utilize renewable as well as clean sources of energy, for example solar energy.
His retirement from politics was received with mixed reactions from his electorate who considered a dedicated and committed leader after serving them for six terms. A majority of the electorates loves and admires him. On the other hand, he had been advocating for term-limits. It would have been great of he led by example. He has confessed that his retirement will enable him spend ample time with his family that he adores so much. This action adds to his long list of ethical acts such as declining special interest funds from political action committee affirming how much he is a leader who is full of integrity.
He has once been listed among the top ten best members of Congress who are driven by strict tenets although they are not moralists. Scott Perry assumed his position. However, prior to his retirement, he did a number of things that are worth noting. He drafted a bill to transform the education sector such that graduates are flexible to work nationally while having skills that are needed in the labor market.
After formally retiring from politics in 2012, Platts decided to make is Juris doctorate that he earned from the Pepperdine University School of Law into good use. In February 2013, he declared his interest to vie for the post of Common Pleas judge in York County Court (Kauffman Para.3). When declaring his interest for the seat, he declared that he was ready to work for the citizens with loyalty and enthusiasm just as he did when he was representing the electorate of the 19th Congressional district of Pennsylvania. He reiterated that his broad knowledge in legal and legislative matters would help him become an insightful and efficient judge (Kauffman Para.4).
He faced off with Flannelly who had a good experience in litigation and working within the court environment. Aware of the tough competition, he told the voters to consider his performance for the past 20 years in state and national platforms.
Indeed, his dream came to reality when he was sworn in as a Common Pleas judge on January 2014 after emerging victorious against his competitor, Judge Michael Flannelly. He appreciated his supporters and promised to progress with his desire to serve the society. He assumed the office that was initially occupied by Flannelly ready to handle the loads of cases that were pending. In his new career far from national politics, he indicated a desire to focus on the people, in particular individuals who had been criminally oppressed. Moreover, Todd showed his interest in work with youths in the court considering that his age is now mature.
Achievements and Failures of Platts
Platts is among those leaders who have received several awards to appreciate them for their good leadership. These awards include 2000 Legislator of the Year Award presented by the Pennsylvania School Counselors Association, the Elected Official of the Year Award presented by the Chamber Commerce in 2002 in York County, and 2005 Champions for Children Award under Fight crime: Invest in Kids program. He also received the Distinguished Citizen Award presented by the Boy Scouts of America-York Adams Area Council. Indeed, the Congressman has received great awards.
One can also not fail to mention Elected Official of the Year Award and National Leadership Award that he was awarded in 2012 (Congressional Record E1664). These awards did not rise out of a vacuum. Apart from being a Congressman, he has dedicated a greater part of his life, close to fifteen years in community services. For instance, he served as a coach in youth basketball team in York County and Future Leaders of York, a program that focused on mentoring youngsters to become the leaders (Fussman 17). Moreover, he served as a board member of Junior Achievement of South Central Pennsylvania where he helped in encouraging youngsters to work in achieving their dreams and awarding children who do that. The Congressman has attended several Eagle Scout and Gold Award events showing his strong support for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts projects.
Notably, his humanitarian character has been evident through the contributions he has made in the building plans launched by Habitat for Humanity. Moreover, he was able to represent the people of the 19th Congressional District Pennsylvania for 12 years without massive support from the electorate. He also sponsored 28 bills and cosponsored 231 bills that surely shaped America not to mention the several that he served in the House of Representatives. One of the key of the failures of Platts was that he was probably not loyal to his party as he was both a prochoice and prolife type of politician.
Based on the expositions made in the paper, it suffices to declare leadership and politics as two intertwined aspects. Both need wisdom and knowledge. Although wisdom is inborn, knowledge is earned through proper education. Todd Platts had all the latter. He received proper education that can be confirmed by the degrees that he holds. He began his political life from a humble background in Pennsylvania State House of Representatives and later progressed to national politics where he represented the people of 19th Congressional district for close to 12 years. His tenure as a Congressman was free from corruption.
He refused funds from political action committee to fund his campaigns. Nonetheless, the good leadership skills he portrayed throughout his tenure as a Congressman prior to becoming a common plea judge overshadow some of his shortfalls. No one is perfect. Indeed, he is strait-laced in serious situations, although he is not a moralist: a complicated concept to comprehend. He provides a political life that political leaders should emulate.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. “177th of General Assembly.” Legislative Journal, 1.1 (1993): 2-20. Print.
Congressional Record. Hon. Todd Platts in the House of Representative, 2012. Web.
Fussman, Cal. “What I have learned: representative Todd Platts.” Esquire 2010: 17-18. Web.
Kauffman, Christina. Todd Platts Running for York County Judge, 2013. Web.