PA Congressional District 14 Candidate: Hans Lessmann
Lessmann is one of three running for the seat currently held by Mike Doyle.
Three people will run in the April 24 primary for two places on the November ballot for the Pennsylvania Congressional District 14 seat.
Incumbent Mike Doyle, a Democrat from Forest Hills, will face off with Democrat Janis Brooks, a North Versailles resident, in the primary for the Democratic nomination. The winner will run against Republican Hans Lessmann of Forest Hills in November.
Congressional District 14 covers Oakmont, Verona, Brookline and the City of Pittsburgh, Dormont, Baldwin, Edgewood, Forest Hills and Swissvale. For a full map of the areas in the 14th District, click here.
Lessmann, a Republican who resides in Forest Hills, holds degrees from Purdue University and the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. He currently has an optometry practice in Edgewood and specializes in vision therapy for children and adults.
Lessmann is the president of the Society for the Education of Physicians and Patients. In support of one of his daughters, who has Down syndrome, his family is involved with several organizations that support and raise awareness about Down syndrome.
Lessman is married and has three children. His oldest daughter is in the U.S. Army and is serving in Afghanistan. He second daughter is involved with Milestone Centers in Monroeville. His son attends Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School.
“My general platform is jobs, energy and tax reform,” Lessmann said. “People first, growth today, solutions now.”
Lessmann said Pittsburgh has done well after the demise of the steel industry, but that he thinks the area has been in a slow decline, a sign of which is declining population in Allegheny County.
His interest is to provide business-friendly government policies that would bring businesses and jobs to the area.
“My big concern is that a lot of our well-educated youth have to leave town for jobs. It really devalues our area. It doesn’t keep families together,” Lessmann said. “Steelers fans are all over the country, but not Seattle fans. That’s because Seattle has a great economy, but Pittsburgh doesn’t.”
Lessmann said Pittsburgh was a technology hub in the 1960s, when many people—including his father and grandfather—worked for Westinghouse. The city now has what he calls “quiet greatness,” and he said there are a number of fascinating new companies in Pittsburgh that deserve more attention.
Lessmann said he thinks there need to be major changes to health care in the United States, but said he knew it could take many years to put in place a plan he thinks would work.
“The problem is that we actually have too much health care in our country in many ways,” he said. “It’s not an efficient system we have now. People are getting care they don’t need and consuming resources others may need.”
The solution, he said, would be to create a system in which individuals would work directly with their doctors—not with insurance companies—to determine the type and frequency of care needed.
More of the payment would fall to individuals, but care would more specific and individuals would have more personal relationships with doctors. In this plan, he said, health savings plans would be more widely used.
“Essentially what I’m talking about is a medical IRA,” Lessmann said. “You could carry a $1,000 to $5,000 deductible, and you put money into an account and it grows interest. Right now, if you’re young, you don’t use health care much, but the money grows so that when you’re 50 or 60, you have more, and that would become your deductible.”
When asked how a young person in need of continuous medical care, who might not be able to afford to contribute to such a savings plan, would fare under his proposed system, Lessmann said insurance could still be available for people with those needs and emergency room treatment still would be available for all.
The key, he said, would be to eliminate the third party—whether it be an employer, the government or a large health care provider—that determines a person’s medical treatment for them.
Energy and tax reform
Taxes, including high energy costs, are a burden, especially to citizens who are in lower income brackets. There are things that can be done to lessen that burden, that the United States isn’t currently doing.
Gas and oil drilling could be expanded, and could be done in environmentally safe ways, he said. As a member of the Three Rivers Rowing Association and outdoor lover, Lessmann said he cares about the environment and wouldn’t want to damage it.
He also said he wants all states to use the same blend of gasoline, which would be cheaper to distribute and would help keep gas costs down.
Tax reform also is needed in order to boost the economy and take the tax burden off of citizens, he said. Lessmann said he is in favor of a fair tax system, in which income tax is eliminated but brand new items are taxed at a higher rate. The advantage is that used items would not be taxed, so consumers could save money for needed goods, such as groceries, by buying used.
He said the system could increase efficiency while reducing waste and spending. It would greatly benefit future generations, he said.
“I’m running for the next generation,” Lessmann said. “(Young people) are the ones the politicians are planning to have pay for all their deals right now. They just want to get elected, without thinking about the future, and we can’t keep going on like that.”