Todd Rowley

Todd Rowley talks to a reporter on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, at The Tribune-Democrat office in Johnstown, while announcing he is running for Pennsylvania 13th Congressional District.

Coming from a background as a Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent, who also spent time as a police officer and state trooper, Todd Rowley has emphasized the importance of safety – at home and abroad – during the early days of his campaign in the 2020 race for Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional District seat.

His background includes work in cyber-security and counter-terrorism.

“I have clear understanding as to not just the domestic – but the international – threats that our country faces,” Rowley said during a recent interview at The Tribune-Democrat. “From the gun violence that our country encounters every day, every hour of the day, we have to ensure that our law enforcement agencies at all levels – local, state and federal – have the resources they need. And we have to ensure that those resources are properly directed to combating that violence that is being seen within our inner cities and even in our rural areas as well, which hits right home across PA-13.”

In terms of crime, Rowley, a gun owner, supports what he called “commonsense firearms legislation and that includes universal background checks, also those protection order laws – i.e. the ‘red flag’ laws” and “restricting the sale of those designated and properly defined military assault weapons.”

He supports a voluntary buyback program for assault weapons.

“I make an appeal to fellow gun owners, to hunters, to sportsmen, to sportswomen, I believe firmly that the majority of that populous feels the same way as the majority of Americans feel,” Rowley said. “I appeal to that community to make your voices known. This is some commonsense firearm legislation that we can implement to save lives.

“But, also more importantly, we have to ensure that those law-biding citizens still have those fundamental rights that are protected under the Second Amendment.

“I’ve sworn an oath to the U.S. Constitution in my previous work, in my previous commitment to this country.

“And I will protect the Second Amendment, just as I will protect the other amendments in the Constitution.”

On an international level, Rowley said “the threat is real from hostile foreign governments that every moment of every day are trying to compromise the democracy that we enjoy and oftentimes we take for granted. And, as Americans, we have to stay steadfast and recognize that these threats are real.”

Rowley, a resident of Donegal Township, Westmoreland County, said he wants to appeal to a sense of common purpose among citizens.

“Our campaign message is really based in unity,” he said. “It’s that message to all Americans, whether you’re a Democrat, or an independent or a Republican, this message is about unity.

“And it’s about finding our way back as Americans to those shared values that we all have of civility, and decency, equality, respect for each other, tolerance and really the rule of law.”

He feels too much division has become part of national politics, citing the issue of coal as an example.

“I like to talk about this rhetoric of a ‘war on coal,’ ” Rowley said. “I think it’s a rhetoric of fear, and I think it’s unfounded. What we’re finding is that with our coal companies, we’re finding that the production of coal is no longer profitable. We find our coal companies now transitioning to gas exploration or production. We also find that from a global climate change standpoint that the American people are demanding that our elected officials recognize that global climate change is real.

Our scientists are telling us that through their research and through their empirical data.”

While Rowley has a background in law enforcement, he pointed to health care as an issue where he will need to learn the nuances of policy.

“We have to decide, as Americans collectively, is health care a basic human right?” Rowley said. “And if we agree that it is and it’s not just a privilege for the wealthy, then we have to move forward with then rolling up our sleeves – in a bipartisan manner – and getting a national health care system in place and that includes one for every American. And that’s one area that I would like to broaden my understanding from a very detailed aspect.”

Rowley is looking to unseat freshman U.S. Rep. John Joyce, R-Blair, in a district that includes all of Bedford County, along with parts of Cambria, Somerset and Westmoreland.

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

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