HONESDALE -- What is the biggest problem facing Pennsylvania?
Governor Tom Wolf had a unique answer at a governor's conference in the nation's capital.
"I think the biggest problem in Pennsylvania is low self-esteem," said Governor Wolf.
Barely one month into his first term, Mr. Wolf made the comments on CSPAN this weekend talking in Washington D.C. about the challenges facing Pennsylvania and its economy. Aside from the usual problems with education and transportation, Governor Wolf said low self-esteem is right up there.
"As governors, we have to tout our own potential and make sure we're not wasting away in part because we don't think we're as good as we really are. I think Pennsylvania is one of those underachieving states that could be doing a lot better."
At the Wayne County Courthouse in Honesdale, the county commissioners have differing takes on the governor's comments.
"I can be inclined to think the governor is painting with too broad a brush," said Commissioner Jonathan Fritz, a Republican.
"I think that is a little bit of our nature. As I say, we`re not going to break our arms patting our back," said Commissioner Wendell Kay, a Democrat.
"Low self-esteem", "an excess of modesty", and "underachieving" are all words Governor Tom Wolf used to describe the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Tuesday on Twitter the governor held a town hall meeting. Republicans wrote to him saying, "How do you justify calling Pennsylvanians underachievers?
"I've never said that about the state`s hard-working people, but we`re at the bottom in the nation in job growth, have a massive deficit and struggling schools. We can do better," replied Governor Wolf.
"When we watch so many things being manufactured out of our country, as an American, you lose a little bit of pride," said Commissioner Brian Smith, a Republican.
Commissioner Smith said there's some validity to Governor Wolf's "low self-esteem" comments. As a dairy farmer, Smith knows how much pride folks in the region take in their work.
Smith points to the overwhelming influence of money in state and federal elections as a larger problem.
"It costs such a great deal of money that the average hard-working Joe can`t do that. We lose representation in that."
As for how voters see it, some we spoke with are inclined to agree that PA has low self-esteem.
"People are depressed here, there`s no jobs," said Peter Hennings of Honesdale.
"It does. I see a lot with families struggling. It`s sad. It`s sad. Everybody`s out there doing the best they can for their family," said Linda Dietsch of Honesdale.
"As Americans, we need to feel as though we work hard, we deliver something, and we`re proud," added Commissioner Smith.
One thing the Wayne County Commissioners agree on is: Governor Wolf has no shortage of self-esteem.
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