Coffee and Conversations in Butler County

Coffee and Conversations in Butler County

BUTLER, Pa. — In Butler County, we chose Mac’s Route 8 Café in Butler for our Coffee and Conversations.

It’s a family owned-and-operated restaurant along the Connoquenessing Creek.

Channel 11 News anchor Lisa Sylvester sat down with folks who were eating there to talk about the upcoming presidential election and the issues they believe the next president needs to tackle.

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Their top picks: student loans, education, health insurance,

Student Debt

Bill and Justine Brown are regulars.

They met doing with they love: teaching.

Now retired from the Butler school system, Justine said education is the basis for building a strong middle class, but there’s one big problem.

“Kids are paying loans, taking 20-25 years to pay off their school loans and that’s ridiculous,” Justine said. “Because of that, their lifestyle is limited. It’s just difficult for them.”

She doesn’t want to give it to students for free, but she wants something done to ease the burden of student loans.

Education Standards

The Browns also want Washington to wake up when it comes to Common Core math and other education standards set by the federal government.

Bill taught ninth and 10th graders special education students.

“My students, for example, needed math subtraction and addition, fundamental skills for life. The government expected me to teach them geometry and algebra,” Bill said.

Healthcare and Insurance

Tammy Gross and Bethany Norris wanted to talk about health insurance.

Tammy explained how she had to jump through hoops when her son turned 26 to keep him on her husband's health insurance, even though he struggles with mental disabilities.

“He’s on two medications: one for seizures, one for ADD,” she said. “Had he not got back on the insurance; I would have had to decide which medication was more important for him."

“That’s a huge thing,” Bethany told Lisa. “After I turned 26, I was off my parents’. Through my work, it was about $400 per pay or $800 a month for my family.”

Abortion Debate

Bethany said that as a mother, she wants someone to stand up for medical freedom and a woman’s right to choose.

“They’re talking right now about doing away with Roe vs. Wade, you know, reversing it and that’s scary. That’s infringing on women,” she said.

Marijuana Legalization

Nick Scialabba is a Navy veteran who served during the Korean War. He’s concerned that drugs have taken young people down the wrong path.

“It bothers me when you see the drugs and stuff going on,” he said. “Now some of the drugs that were not good before, all of a sudden, somebody is trying to put them on the market.”

“You’re talking about marijuana,” Lisa asked.

“Marijuana and other stuff that was never good for you,” he said.

Military Service

Tom Della Santa, 93, was at the table with Nick. He thinks our country is in great shape but would like to see “serving our country” continue to mean something to a younger generation.

“When I have a young boy or a young girl who approaches me in a Walmart or Kmart and comes over the says, ‘Thank you for your service,’ that’s impressive to me because this young person didn’t have someone pushing them and telling them about it,’” he said.

About Coffee and Conversations: Each month, Lisa Sylvester will travel to another county and sit down with voters to talk about the issues they want to see the next president address. You can find all of her stories on our Politics page.

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