Matt Matsunaga

Matt Matsunaga will be running for Congressman Todd Platt's congressional seat after he vacates his office at the enbd of his term.

A Shippensburg area man with no experience in public office but who is frustrated with U.S. politics has announced he will run for what will soon be the 4th Congressional District seat.

Matt Matsunaga, 40, of Southampton Township said Friday he will run as a Democrat.

The announcement comes three days after Rep. Todd Platts announced he will not seek re-election and one day after state Rep. Scott Perry, R-92, announced he will run for the same seat.

Also running is York County resident Ted Waga, a Republican who also is a member of the York 912 organization.

Platts currently represents the 19th District.

There is, however, one possible hurdle for Matsunaga - Southampton Township won't be a part of the newly re-drawn 4th Congressional District.

Come Jan. 1, 2013, Southampton Township will be part of the 11th Congressional District, which is currently represented by U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, a Republican who has announced he will seek re-election.


Matsunaga is undeterred by that detail, saying Friday after that was pointed out to him that he wants to change Washington politics and plans to run anyway.

In addition to not deterring him mentally, it won't deter him legally either - under the U.S. Constitution, representatives aren't required to live within the geopolitical boundaries of the districts they represent. The only requirement is that they must be residents of the state, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Originally from Fresno, Calif., Matsunaga has lived on the East Coast since his 18th birthday. He has lived in Southampton Township for almost two years and works as a merchandiser of over-the-counter medications for Ahold USA at Giant corporate headquarters in Carlisle.

He lives with his wife of six years and their three cats.

Party switch

"I am an honest, ordinary person that is tired of sitting on the sidelines complaining about the system without trying to change it," he said in his announcement.

While Matsunaga has never held political office, he is not without political experience.

While at Catonsville Community College in Maryland, he was an active member of the College Republicans, serving as co-chairman.

Racist remarks directed at Judge Lance A. Ito by Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato, R-N.Y., during the O.J. Simpson trial eventually led Matsunaga, also an Asian-American, to leave the GOP, he said, but not before gaining some political experience.

"I did some campaign work for the GOP, attended some conferences and workshops and really got into the debates," Matsunaga said.

For the people

After plenty of time complaining about the political process, when Platts announced he won't seek re-election Matsunaga decided he should do something about it.

He describes his platform as simple, focused on working for the people of the district.

"It's time we stop letting money and outside influence decide policy and laws," Matsunaga said in his announcement. "It's time we get our voices heard ... I want to listen to all citizens, regardless of party or ideology. Once elected, I will listen to the voices that want a better today and a far better tomorrow."

Matsunaga believes politicians are generally bought by special interest groups or are too far to the right or the left to truly represent the people.

"There are basically no more moderates in Congress, and it's all become very polarized," he said. "I am a moderate, and I hope to work across the isle."

"I will not take money from special interests or corporations," he said in his statement. "I will rely on shoe leather, meetings and small donations from people to get me through the primary."

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