“Rail has been and continues to be an economic driver nationally and locally. Altoona, Pennsylvania has a rich history of railroading. To date, our local railroad still has repair operations in town that help support the local economy in many ways including purchasing from other local businesses.”

Mayor Matt Pacifico was first elected as Altoona’s Mayor in 2013. He was re-elected as the city’s full-time Mayor, a newly-created position under the city’s Home Rule Charter, in November 2015. Pacifico has been instrumental in initiating a number of strategies to improve the city’s financial outlook, attract new business, and to become the fastest city ever to exit PA’s Act 47 distressed municipality program. He works with state and federal representatives and officials to bring about positive change to the community.

Prior to his election, Pacifico played an integral role at Pacifico Bakery, serving as the Operations Manager for 10 years, overseeing all functions of the business from mixing to shipping. He and his wife, Kristal, have 2 sons, Ethan and Angelo.

“For the Illinois International Port District, the role of rail is critical. We have rail running directly to the port, along with access to Interstate highways. This makes the Illinois International Port District attractive to companies looking to move goods in and out of Chicago. No Great Lakes port can match Chicago’s rail service and this is helping us thrive.”

Clayton Harris III is the Executive Director for the Illinois International Port District. Prior to his appointment, Harris was Midwest Director of Government Affairs for the environmental & engineering firm CH2M, and he also had stints as Chief of Staff for the State of Illinois and the Illinois DOT, and as Counsel at the Chicago DOT, among other government positions. He has a bachelor’s degree in aerospace technology from Middle Tennessee State University and a law degree from the Howard University School of Law.

“Freight railroads annually spend billions of dollars of their own funds, not taxpayer money, to build and maintain a rail network that is critically important to farmers and elevators in South Dakota. As our yields and output continue to increase, rail’s connection to the global marketplace is becoming ever more important.”

G. Mark Mickelson is the Speaker of the House of the South Dakota Legislature, where he has served since 2013. Mickelson founded Mickelson & Company, LLC, in 2005. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a member of the South Dakota Bar Association. He has served as the chair of the South Dakota Community Foundation. Mickelson and his wife, Cynthia Mickelson, have three sons and live in Sioux Falls. He enjoys hunting, fishing, golfing and watching his sons’ activities.

“The railroad is part of the city of Altoona. This is how Altoona came to existence. I take pride in being a railroader and I take pride in protecting, educating and teaching our community about the rail.”

Chief Jesse James was born and raised in the Chippewa Valley.  He is a 15-year-plus veteran of law enforcement and, in 2018, was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing District 68. He started his career in April of 2001 with the Spring Valley Police Department as a part-time officer.  He also worked with the Elmwood Police Department and the Altoona Police Department.  In December of 2002 he was offered a full-time position with the Altoona Police Department.

He has been with the City of Altoona ever since and worked seven years as a night shift patrol officer.  He was the first officer in Eau Claire County to be offered a position on the the Eau Claire County SWAT team.  He became a Law Enforcement Standards and Board Firearms Instructor in November 2007.  In October of 2009 he was assigned to the position of Investigator.  Chief James led several high-profile investigations, some of which went to the federal level, where he has testified in front of a grand jury. Chief James was acting Police and Fire Chief from April 2011 until September 2011.  He maintained his position as an Investigator until October 2013 when he accepted the position of Police and Fire Chief.  He is a graduate of the Leadership in Police Organizations and First Line Supervisor programs.

He has also worked with staff to educate the community regarding the railroad traffic in the City of Altoona, including the creation of a city ordinance to address trespassing on the railroad.

“Freight trains take thousands of truckloads off of Connecticut’s congested roads and highways each year, benefiting drivers and our battered infrastructure. Plus, the nationwide rail network is not supported by taxpayers, but by the railroads themselves, through massive ongoing investments.”

Chris Bielik was elected to the Beacon Falls, CT Board of Selectmen in 2011 and he has served as First Selectman since 2013. In that time, he was elected by his peers to the Executive Board of the newly established Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments.

Bielik graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD with a B.S. in resource management. He served over 22 years on active duty in the Navy as a Naval Flight Officer, flying the P-3 Orion aircraft and attaining the rank of Commander (O-5). He earned an M.S. in management (public administration) from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA and retired from the Navy in 2004.

“At the Chamber, we know how vital it is for our local businesses to have efficient transportation options. Freight railroads stand out on this front because of their financial commitment to building and expanding the nationwide rail network, a stark contrast to our publicly funded roads and highways.”

Mike Miller has served as the President of the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce since 2014. He has 40 years of media business experience, including having served as publisher of the Florence Morning News from 1999 through 2007.

In 2008, Miller left the Florence area to assume the position of president and publisher of the Winston-Salem Journal and the Piedmont Publishing Group in North Carolina. In 2012, he joined Jones Media Group in Tennessee where he was the publisher of the Athens Daily Post-Athenian and the Monroe County Advocate.

“Union Pacific, which runs through my district, and Oklahoma’s 18 other freight railroads are an economic powerhouse for our local and state economies. They not only connect local business and industry to the rest of the country and world, they are doing this with private dollars that continually improve efficiency, helping shippers’ bottom lines.”

First elected in 2008, Leslie Osborn is serving her fourth term as an Oklahoma State Representative where she represents the 47th District. She has served as the Assistant Majority Floor Leader and the Deputy Majority Whip in the Oklahoma House. She currently serves as the chair of the Natural Resources Appropriations Committee.

Osborn was appointed the Oklahoma State Director of the National Foundation for Women Legislators in 2016. She is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and resides in Mustang, where she was the business owner of Osborn Pick-Up Accessories for 22 years. She is the mother of two children.



“My position as Vice Chair of the Oklahoma House’s Transportation Committee has given me a favorable view of private freight rail companies, like BNSF in our region, that invest vast sums into our communities by way of infrastructure. Their spending, which comes at no expense to taxpayers, is crucial to the transportation network that moves our economy.”

Casey Murdock was elected to his first term in the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2014 and currently serves as the Vice Chair of the House Transportation Committee. He represents the 61st House district that covers the panhandle of Oklahoma.

Murdock grew up in western Oklahoma and he is an alumnus of Oklahoma Panhandle State University. Since graduating, he has farmed and ranched near his hometown while also serving as Farm Manager for New Mexico State University’s Clayton Livestock Research Center where he focused on feedyard management and livestock research. Murdock also previously served on the Felt School District board. He is married and a father of three.



“The private dollars that freight railroads pour into their infrastructure are a force multiplier for North Carolina’s economy—supporting the health of the rail infrastructure that connects businesses in our state and across the country to our ports and beyond. At the local level, the benefits of rail dollars are clear: more jobs and increased economic development.”

Paul Meyer began his service at the League as Chief Legislative Counsel in 2009 and later served as Director of governmental affairs. He was named Executive Director in 2013. Meyer brings more than 15 years of experience working on local government legislative and legal issues.

Before joining the League, Meyer spent more than a decade advocating for county governments as a lobbyist for the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. He has also worked in private law practice and in the commercial insurance field. He is a graduate of Wake Forest University and earned a law degree from Campbell University School of Law.

“Freight railroads crisscross South Carolina, moving efficiently day in, day out to haul raw materials originating here, like lumber and paper, as well as finished products to the rest of the country and beyond. Rail is the connector that helps to power the local and national economies—and railroads are continually investing in the network that makes this possible.”

D. Paul Sommerville is the Chairman of the Beaufort County Council. He represents District 2 (MCAS/Beaufort/Lady’s Island/Fripp Island). Sommerville’s background is in labor relations, where he is a management consultant.

Sommerville is a graduate of Duke University and a veteran of the U.S. Army. A Beaufort native, he is married with two daughters.