DUNMORE -- State Representative Kevin Haggerty hasn't been to Harrisburg since the end of July, missing more than 200 votes, and Haggerty's recently lost the respect of many in his own party. He acknowledged on Thursday he may have lost the respect of many of his constituents but told us he plans to earn it back.
Rep. Haggerty says the past nine months have been some of the worst of his life and stand as his excuse for failing to represent members of the 112th District in Harrisburg.
He did not want to talk about what happened but felt he had to and told us about two separate events this past summer when he felt his children might not be safe.
First, fear of a possible break-in at his home in Dunmore and then a letter to his estranged wife from a violent inmate in a state prison.
Haggerty last attended a session in Harrisburg on July 21. He says that next morning, everything unraveled.
He has been going through a divorce and he told us about a call from a neighbor telling him that someone had snuck onto his property late at night.
"Just a situation when you're 120 miles away with little kids, it can really put a fear factor into your life. And so, by the time I got home, I was just, I was with my kids and nervous at the same time that something like that could happen. A few weeks after that, my wife received a letter from a dangerous prisoner in the state system, and the letter was scary."
He says it was that fear that kept him from Harrisburg for the rest of the year.
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"You just start to question everything about why this is allowed. I just became a homebody, basically. I wanted to be near them. You just get really, really afraid," Haggerty said.
That fear caused him to miss more than 200 votes in Harrisburg from July to now. Earlier this month, three fellow representatives from his own party publicly called him out for it.
He says he's been called out here at home, too.
"Me not being in Harrisburg is not fake news, I wasn't there. But, I want the people to know that I value everything I'm doing, I value the work I'm doing for them."
He says he concentrated his work in the district, which includes Dunmore and the mid-valley area of Lackawanna County, mostly working out of his office in Dunmore. He says he will be in Harrisburg on January 22 when the next session begins.
"I'm ready now, things are getting stronger for our family, but for those months, it was paralyzing. When you're in love with your kids you do what you think is best, and I just want the people that I serve to know that I'm going to come back better than ever."
We asked him to speak to his constituents; there are 63,000 of them in parts of Lackawanna County who have not been represented in Harrisburg for months. Specifically, we asked him to speak to people who may also have difficult family situations, but have no choice but to go to work.
"I hope you never have to go through what I did. There's a difference between a public divorce and private divorce. And, the public divorce caused some circumstances that I talked to you about earlier. And I would hope that people, especially parents, grandparents, would understand I would hope that they would do something similar to what I did."
Haggerty says he plans to talk to his colleagues in Harrisburg who have called him out and meet with leadership from both parties.
"You have to protect your family in a lot of ways, and one of those is to have a job, to work, and be able to provide," he said. "Right now, we just need to gain the trust of our colleagues, of our constituents, and rebuild what we had," he said.
Haggerty was not willing to tell whether he plans to run for re-election next year but did acknowledge that he has a lot of work to do to win over voters.
Haggerty is up for re-election next year there are already three candidates running against him and a few others considering it.