By Alisher Aminov
Candidate profiles give candidates the opportunity to speak directly to their constituency and answer questions specifically related to the offices they are running for. All candidates listed on Lebanon County ballots have been contacted for an interview. Subsequent profiles will follow in order of candidate response.
Because Russ Diamond is running for two offices at the same time, this article will be broken into three parts: 1) background information, 2) re-election bid for PA State Rep of the 102 Legislative District, and 3) his candidacy for Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania.
Russ Diamond was born and raised in Lebanon County and has owned and operated a business (Raintree Multimedia) in the Lebanon area for the last 30 years, which focuses on sound and audio production.
After becoming PA State Rep. of the102nd Legislative District in 2014, Diamond said the scaled back the size of his business to something he does on the side, preferring to dedicate the majority of his time to his work as an elected official.
Leading up to his election in 2014, Diamond had been a citizen activist for 12 years.
He said, “In 2005, after the general assembly gave itself an unconstitutional midnight pay raise, I went around the state and recruited 113 candidates to run for legislative seats. In that year, there was a 55% turnover in the general assembly, which is an extremely high number. Usually, it’s only 2%.”
Diamond also said that in the same year, his group led the charge in ousting a PA State Supreme Court Justice, which until that time had never happened before in Pennsylvania State history.
Leading up to his successful bid for State Representative in 2014, Diamond had run and failed six times for the office of state representative and Lt. governor.
Diamond said that leading up to the 2014 election, he was working as a truck driver and, at that time, had decided to put politics behind him. However, after being contacted and urged to run by his now predecessor Rosemarie Swanger, he decided to run once again.
Re-election Bid for PA State-Representative of the 102 Legislative District:
Currently, Diamond sits on the Agriculture and Rural Affairs, State Government, Liquor, and Gaming Oversight legislative committees.
Diamond said that he is running for re-election on the platform of preserving Lebanon County values, common sense, and traditional family values.
He said he believes that the position of State Representative is a full-time job. While some representatives choose to juggle the responsibilities of elected office and personal work/business ventures, he has chosen to dedicate most of his time to his work as an elected official.
Diamond said that throughout his tenure as a State Representative, one of his more significant accomplishments has been his effort to limit governor Tom Wolf’s Covid policies. He also ultimately drafted the complete termination legislation, which was enacted as an amendment to the Pennsylvania State Constitution.
Diamond said, “I was there at the beginning, and I was there at the end to make sure that we stopped his |Governor Wolf| unilateral rule to close business, schools, mandates, that sort of thing.”
Looking back on the work he has accomplished, Diamond said that one of the accomplishments he is most proud of was his efforts as a freshman legislator to get the medical cannabis program operational in Pennsylvania.
“It was my amendment to that bill that added autism to the list of legal/treatable conditions, and a few months after that program began, I met a father who had two children who had severe autism who enrolled them in this program, and within weeks these children who had been nonverbal before were starting to talk, were starting play, and we’re starting to be like normal kids,” Diamond said.
He continued by saying that if he accomplishes nothing else in his legislative career, he will be happy with that one accomplishment alone. “When you can impact peoples’ lives in that sort of fashion, it is a huge reward, and it is worth all the other efforts I put into it,” he said.
Diamond also noted that it was his bill that brought industrial hemp back to Pennsylvania, which he says will grow into a billion-dollar industry in the state.
Asked whether or not he would support the legalization of recreational Marijuana, Diamond said he is unwilling to make a statement on the issue. However, he said he believes that before any other action should be taken on the issue, we must first fix the problems with the medical cannabis system, although he did not specify what those are.
Diamond said that if re-elected, he hopes to focus on ensuring election integrity and preserving medical freedom. He says that he has already drafted constitutional amendments that will address both issues.
He believes that people should have the ultimate right to say no to any vaccine or mandate offered to them. Diamond said that he believes in informed consent and that issues such as these should be a matter of collective action as opposed to government mandates.
Diamond also said he believes that in-person and traditional absentee voting are the only right way for us to conduct elections. He intends to push the necessary amendments to the Pennsylvania State Constitution that would return us to that time.
When asked if he could pass any piece of legislation instantly without any hurdles, Diamond said that he would eliminate the property tax. Diamond said that he believes the metric by which property taxes are calculated is flawed and that it is unfair to the citizens of the state.
“It has nothing to do with your ability to pay, and quite frankly, there is no other product that you can buy that you will be taxed on for the rest of its useful life,” he said.
Bid for Lt. Governor of the State of Pennsylvania:
Russ Diamond believes that the role of the Lt. Governor is to support the governor primarily. He said the three things that he believes are essential as a candidate for Lt. Governor are
1) their ability to help the candidate who is selected for Governor during the primary election win the election in the fall.
2) their ability as Lt. Governor to hit the ground running and form a relationship with the legislative branch.
3) Their ability to assume the role of the governor should some tragedy occur, and the governor died.
Diamond said that he believes he is uniquely qualified in all three of those categories.
Diamond said that if he were elected, he would focus on fulfilling the duties assigned to the Lt. Governor according to the Pennsylvania State Constitution, which includes presiding as the President of the Senate and being the chairperson for the Board of Pardons and the Emergency Management Council.
Diamond said that while he is a Republican, he has the ability to work with people on both sides of the party aisle and has the experience required to run smooth legislative sessions within the Senate.
He said, “even though I’m a Republican, you have to be fair to all senate members because they all have an equal say … your job is to run the meeting.”
Diamond also added that as Chairperson of the Board of Pardons, he would be scrupulous in reviewing the applications; he said that the cases presented to the Board have already gone through a jury and a judge’s sentencing, and he does not believe that the Pardon Board should interfere with their judgment unless an extenuating circumstance occurs.
Diamond said that each case needs to be reviewed in the context of its own merit and that as Chair, the Lt. Governor needs to review the applications with a judicious perspective.
As Chair of Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management Council, Diamond said that the Lt. Governor is not actively going out and saving people; rather, it is their job to put the proper procedures in place so that in the event of an emergency, the government can respond quickly and efficiently.
He said that it is critical that the Lt. Governor is able to review all of the information presented to him or her and make wise logistical decisions as a result. Diamond believes that his experience working in the audio and video industry has given him the attention to detail and the logistical capabilities needed to be the Emergency Council Chair.
Diamond also noted that one thing the current Lt. Governor has revealed about the position is that they have the time to conduct a listening tour in all 67 counties of Pennsylvania about various issues. Diamond said that if elected, he plans to conduct a similar tour focused on the issues that the Governor is focused on.
Given the opportunity to make a remark directly to his constituency, Representative Russ Diamond said,
“In 2014, the people of Lebanon County put their faith in me to go to Harrisburg and represent them. As a member of a 203-member body, if you do the math on that, means my voice is really less than one-half of one percent of the House of Representatives. My goal has always been to make the voice of the 102nd District greater than less than one half of one percent, and I believe I’ve done that by standing up for Lebanon County values and common sense, and I will continue to do that as long as the people see fit to elect me to this office.”
For more information about Russ Diamond’s candidacy, please visit www.russdiamond.vote