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A Joint Statement from Michael Rivera and Commissioner Christian Leinbach

Regarding the Key Issues Facing Berks County. Learn more about Michael and his vision for Berks County and Reading. Here you will find all the information you need surrounding the political concerns the team of Rivera and Leinbach for Commissioner are addressing, as well as key policies that Rivera for Commissioner fights to uphold. As our society is ever-changing, so are political issues and the need to amend governmental policies. Stay tuned here.



Transportation issues are important for three main reasons. 

•    We must always make public safety the priority. Whether we are talking about roads or bridges the health safety of the commuting public must be paramount.

•    It is economic growth that protects jobs and helps create new ones. 

•    Finally, a great transportation system adds to everyone's quality of life. 

That's why we support the completion of the Route 222 north corridor as a four lane road from the "Road to Nowhere" to route 100 in the Lehigh Valley. 

We support improvements to I-78, especially addressing the rash of crashes along this stretch of highway. 

Related to I-78 we also oppose changing the Federal rules to allow heavier and longer trucks to share the road with much smaller vehicles. 

We strongly support the major upgrades planned for the West Shore By-Pass (422 from the Penn Street Interchange East toward Exeter)  

We will continue to support the SCTA (South Central Transportation Authority) which resulted from the merger of the Lancaster Red Rose Public Transit and Berks BARTA Transit into one efficient and cost savings team known as SCTA.

Finally, we strongly support another serious review regarding passenger rail service to Berks County. 


Berks County Jail

The Stakes are High

The current Berks County Jail has two distinct sections. The oldest section was built in 1933 and cannot be renovated. The structural components, overall design, and condition of materials make it financially impossible to renovate this section of the jail. While the 1992 portion of the jail is sound from both a structural and material aspect it does not provide the most cost-efficient design. 
•    It is our hope that a new jail could be designed that would utilize the 1992 section while implementing an overall more financially efficient design. 
•    We support the current CGL study that Berks County authorized to determine the "right size" of a new county jail. CGL is a consulting firm that specializes in the Criminal Justice field.
•    One potential cost savings solution is to have a firm design, build, own, maintain and lease back the new jail to the county. 
No matter what we do, the cost for this project will be significant and demands very careful consideration of all viable options.


Criminal Justice Reform

For a Better Future

There are three major areas where we need serious reform. They are Mental Health in our Jails, Alternative Sentencing for Truly Non-Violent Criminals and major Bail Reform. 
We believe jail should be for people that have committed crimes that put our community at risk. We do not believe that county jails should be major providers of mental health services in the US...but that is the reality today. 

•    That is why Berks County is already part of a national effort to address serious mental health issues in our jails. The program is led by the National Association of Counties (NACo) and is called "Stepping Up." 
•    When it comes to people who are convicted for truly non-violent crimes, we need to find alternatives to prison. Community service benefits the community and specific non-profits or local governments while also keeping people out of our jails. When someone is incarcerated in the Berks County Jail we take on all their expenses including health care, room and food. There is a better way. 
•    Finally, we need to change the way bail is utilized. A person who is held over for trial in a county jail should be because they are either a flight risk or a danger to society. It should not occur because they are too poor to afford bail. 
Criminal Justice Reform done properly should not only benefit our taxpayers but it should also keep more families intact and have fewer people ending up on the Merry-Go-Round of Criminal Justice.


Economic Development

Key Policy

While the government cannot and does not create private sector jobs, they can and do impact the private sector's ability to maintain and grow their business based on regulatory and tax policy.  Berks County needs county leaders who understand these principles and we get it. Both of us come from the private sector. 

•    We fully support the efforts of some key economic development partners here in Berks County. They are The Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, The Berks County Redevelopment Authority, The Berks County Workforce Development Board and the Berks County Industrial Development Authority. We support each of these boards to varying degrees and each play a critical role in our economic development.
One of the keys to a community's "Quality of Life" is a strong local economy with numerous family-sustaining jobs. Berks County is a bastion of small business in a wide variety of industries. Our number one industry by dollars is Agriculture and our number one industry by jobs is Manufacturing. Construction, Healthcare, Education and Retail are also very important. A strong economy means a strong Berks County.



Food Security is National Security

Agriculture is Berks County’s number one industry based on gross revenue. Food security is national security. That’s why we support a sound agriculture policy for Berks County. 

  • We are committed to continuing to fund Farmland Preservation

  • We will continue to work to Preserve and Protect the Right to Farm.

  • We support economic development in agriculture.


School Property Tax Elimination

We support SB76 & HB76 that completely eliminates school property taxes.

School property taxes specifically and property taxes generally are the wrong way to fund any level of government. 

  • Property tax means no person really owns their home, but rather they are renting their home from government.

  • We support SB76 & HB76 that completely eliminates school property taxes.

  • Further we support legislation that would allow counties to eliminate county property taxes by switching to a combination of sales and earned income tax.

While school property tax is not a primary responsibility of county government we understand the negative impact it has on home owners across Berks County and support its elimination.

Key Issues: Issues
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