U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster’s visit to Monessen was more than just a stop on his campaign trail — it was a lesson in his family’s heritage.
Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, Bedford County, spent Thursday afternoon at the Monessen Heritage Museum on Donner Avenue.
Shuster is visiting areas he will be representing next year because of redistricting.
Shuster said Monessen is a “special place close to his heart,” because of his family ties with the city.
“When we did the redistricting, I remembered there was a connection here. My great-grandfather grew up here. I hadn’t been in the city for years, so it feels good to be here,” he said.
Shuster’s great-grandfather, Alpheus Shuster, served as Monessen’s burgess from 1901 to 1905. He helped form the Monessen Bank & Trust Co.
Daniel Zyglowicz, president of the Monessen Historical Society, which owns the museum, compiled newspaper clippings and photos of Shuster’s great-grandfather. A framed portrait of Alpheus Shuster is on display at the museum.
“Officially, I don’t represent the city yet, but if I am fortunate enough to get re-elected, it would be an honor to serve this community,” Shuster said.
His other stops in Monessen included the Douglas Education Center and dinner at the Italian restaurant, Lucchesi’s, with state Rep. Ted Harhai, D-Monessen, and Mayor Mary Jo Smith.
He visited Monongahela Valley Hospital in Carroll Township, Washington County, and Uniontown.
The son of former U.S. Rep. Bud Shuster, Bill Shuster replaced his father in representing the 9th district.
He is chairman of the subcommittee on railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials, serves on the House Armed Services Committee and its subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities and tactical air and land.
Shuster said he is up for the challenge of representing a larger district next year. He said most of the communities within his district face the same struggles.
“When you go into a lot of these towns, there are many similarities. One of the main issues for all of the communities is jobs. It’s been particularly harder on the western part of the district than the eastern part,” Shuster said. “So, definitely bringing jobs is at the top of the list.”
With population declining in the last decade, Pennsylvania lost one congressional district, going from 19 to 18.
After redistricting this year, Democratic incumbents Mark Critz of Johnstown and Jason Altmire of McCandless probably will have to square off in a reconfigured district that consists of portions of Lawrence, Beaver, Allegheny, Westmoreland, Cambria and Somerset counties.
Some parts of those districts will go to neighboring congressmen, including Shuster, who has represented the 9th District since 2001.
The 9th District will take in Monessen and North Belle Vernon next year. The district includes all or parts of 15 counties from Fayette County to the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg and from the Maryland border north to Clearfield County.
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