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State of Pennsylvania April 22, 2008 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for Jack Wagner

Candidate for
Auditor General; State of Pennsylvania; Democratic Party

This information is provided by the candidate

Jack Wagner was sworn in as Pennsylvania's 50th elected Auditor General on January 18, 2005. He has dedicated his life to public service and has the experience needed to continue to serve as your Auditor General:

  • Auditor General
  • State Senator
  • Lieutenant Governor Candidate
  • City Council President and Member
  • Neighborhood Council President
  • Decorated U.S. Marine Corps Combat Veteran
  • Certified Safety Professional
  • Paramedic
  • Civic Leader
  • Devoted Husband and Father

Jack was elected Auditor General on November 2, 2004 after thirty years of experience in the public and private sectors watching the bottom line, reforming operations, and fighting for Pennsylvania families. He won over 2.7 million votes and 52% of the vote against four other candidates. He was the endorsed candidate of the Democratic State Committee and ran unopposed in the primary. In the general election, he was endorsed by nearly every major newspaper, union, and other organization that made an endorsement in that race.

For example, The Philadelphia Inquirer called Jack "a seasoned straight-shooter" with "on-point experience," and wrote that he "has the best combination of integrity, breadth of experience, and Harrisburg know-how." (10/14/04) The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cited Jack's "distinguished record of public service," "character and commitment," and "years of relevant experience in government," concluding that "[h]e has what it takes to grasp the issues and marshall a big look out for the interests of Pennsylvanians." (10/10/04) And after citing his "outstanding credentials," the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review put it much more simply: "This is an important job, and Jack Wagner is ready." (10/28/04)

Before taking office as Auditor General, Jack represented Allegheny County in the State Senate for over 10 years. As a State Senator, Jack was a leading advocate for early childhood education, expanded prescription drug coverage for seniors, and property tax reform. He served as Democratic Caucus Chairman, the third highest leadership position, and as the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee.

He also served on the Appropriations, Judiciary, Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness, Rules and Executive Nominations, and Policy Committees, and was a member of the Pennsylvania Firefighters and Emergency Services Legislative Caucus, the Pennsylvania Coal Caucus, the Legislative Arthritis and Osteoporosis Caucus, the Pennsylvania Veterans Memorial Commission, and the Task Force on Adoption Law.

In his first Senate race, on May 10, 1994, he out-polled his Republican opponent by a better than 3 to 1 margin in a special election and also captured the Democratic nomination in a multi-candidate primary. He won the general election in November 1994 for a full term, ran unopposed for re-election in November 1998, and was re-elected again with over 70% of the vote in 2002.

Jack also received almost a quarter-million votes statewide in his close second-place finish among a crowded nine-candidate field in the 2002 Democratic Lieutenant Governor primary as the running mate of then-Auditor General (now U.S. Senator) Bob Casey, Jr. Praising Jack's selection, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that he was "a familiar figure who radiates seriousness and stability." (3/14/02) When the Post-Gazette then endorsed Jack in that race, it called him a "steady hand" and "a serious figure" in Harrisburg, "a moderate Democrat who has taken generally enlightened positions on government reform and private-public partnerships to promote economic development." (5/12/02)

Jack is a combat veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, where he received the Purple Heart and numerous other military commendations for his infantry service during the Vietnam War (1966-68). He was granted a medical discharge after being wounded in combat.

Recognition for Jack's continuing efforts to assist veterans has included the Veteran of the Year Award from the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program, the Outstanding Legislator Award from the Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Outstanding Service Award from the Pennsylvania War Veterans Council. He is actively involved in a variety of other veterans organizations, including the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Veterans Political Action Committee, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans Institute, and Italian-American War Veterans.

Following his military service, Jack graduated from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Safety Management in 1974. Jack also attended St. Catherine of Siena Church Grade School in Beechview, South Hills High School in Mount Washington, and Point Park College in Pittsburgh. While a student at IUP, Jack worked as a paramedic with Citizens Ambulance Service and taught emergency responder courses at Admiral Perry Area Vocational-Technical School in Ebensburg. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award from IUP for service to the community and the university in 1994 and served for four years on the IUP Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Before entering politics, Jack was a private sector Safety Consultant and worked as a Loss Control Engineer and Safety Manager for CNA Insurance Company. He is a Certified Safety Professional and a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers. In the private sector, Jack worked to ensure that businesses provide safe work environments for their employees. Jack was also a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for five years.

As a local official, Jack gained a reputation for bringing a professional, common-sense approach to issues and for spearheading numerous reforms and improvements in city government and the community. He is a lifelong resident of the Beechview neighborhood in Pittsburgh and served as President of the Beechview neighborhood community council. He then served as a member of the Pittsburgh City Council for ten years (1984-93), including four years as President (1990-93).

Jack has continued to demonstrate his commitment to his community through his chairmanship of Genesis-Riverside Run for Adoption; his service on the boards of Senator John Heinz History Center, the Obediah Cole Foundation for Prostate Cancer, the Veterans Leadership Program, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, and Sharing and Caring, Inc.; and his involvement with many other charitable and civic organizations.

Jack is a lifelong resident of the Beechview neighborhood in Pittsburgh, where he lives with Nancy, his wife of 25 years. They are the proud parents of Luke and Sara. They are members of St. Catherine of Siena Church.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: March 23, 2008 15:03
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