Glenn “G.T.” Thompson is the longest-serving member of Pennsylvania’s current Republican Party delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives. Dr. John Joyce, a fellow Republican, was, just one year ago at this same time, a dermatologist who never held elected office.

Coming from those different political backgrounds, both officially joined the 116th Congress on Thursday, representing Cambria County.

Thompson, as the party’s dean, is expected to take on a mentoring role with newcomers to the House.

“G.T. Thompson has been around long enough that he’s just the kind of congressman that I could see really being engaged in getting Dr. Joyce up to speed,” Cambria County Republican Party Chairwoman Jackie Kulback said.

Kulback would like to see Thompson and Joyce work to foster local economic growth.

“It’s all about bringing jobs and industry back to the area,” Kulback said. “We have a lot of initiatives going on in our region. And we really need some help from congressmen, like G.T. and Dr. Joyce, in really helping us get a leg up. Because, you still feel like there’s an economic desert between Philadelphia, Harrisburg and then it kind of skips over our region and then goes to Pittsburgh. We just feel like we’re in an economic desert and we need some help to get out of that.”

Joyce represents the commonwealth’s 13th Congressional District that includes all of Somerset and Bedford counties and part of Westmoreland, along with Johnstown, Conemaugh, Lower Yoder, Middle Taylor, Stonycreek, Upper Yoder, West Taylor, Brownstown, Daisytown, Dale, East Conemaugh, Ferndale, Franklin, Lorain, Southmont, Westmont and part of East Taylor in Cambria.

“I am humbled and honored to serve the hardworking people of Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District in the 116th Congress,” Joyce said. “I look forward to working with my new colleagues to solve our nation’s challenges as we start this new Congress.”

Joyce plans to not accept any pay until the ongoing partial government shutdown – caused by a Republican-versus-Democrat disagreement over funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico – ends.

“One of my first actions upon taking office will be to write the Chief Administrative Officer of the House to withhold my pay during this shutdown,” Joyce said.

“I call on (Democratic) Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi to end her inexcusable reluctance, engage in good faith negotiations with President Trump to end this impasse and reach an agreement that finally secures our border and properly funds our national security.”

Thompson, who first joined Congress in 2009, represents the 15th Congressional District, a 14-county region that includes most of Cambria’s geographic territory.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to serve the residents of Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District in the U.S. House,” Thompson said. “I look forward to continuing my work on policies that will support stronger economic growth and upward mobility for individuals and families in the Commonwealth and throughout the nation.”

Along with Thompson and Joyce, Pennsylvania’s two senators – Bob Casey Jr., a Democrat from Scranton, and Pat Toomey, a Republican from Upper Milford Township – were sworn in. Casey returns for a third term after winning re-election in November.

“I’m humbled by the opportunity to represent Pennsylvania in the U.S. Senate for another term,” Casey said. “I will spend the 116th Congress fighting for middle-class families, children, workers, and seniors, to make sure that everyone has a fair shot at the American Dream.”

Cambria County President Commissioner Thomas Chernisky, a Democrat, anticipates Casey, Toomey, Joyce and Thompson with work with local and state officials to address the county’s major issues. “I see a lot of people working together and governing,” Chernisky said. “Saying ‘working together’ is not a soundbite. It’s not fluff. It’s actually true. And that’s how you get things done.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.