HAZLETON - U.S Rep. Lou Barletta (R-11) kicked off his re-election campaign Thursday.

The former Hazleton mayor was first elected to the seat in 2010 after defeating 13-term incumbent Paul Kanjorski. In 2012, Barletta, defeated Democratic activist Gene Stlip in the November election.

He said in a press release that he wants to "continue my fight for the people" he represents.

"As someone who sees the world through the eyes of a mayor, my priorities are always local," he said. "But we have also made progress on important national issues like cutting Washington's wasteful spending and protecting my constituents from the harmful impact of Obamacare."

He said that through his chairmanship of the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee, he has been able to save more than $700 million in taxpayer funds by applying "the common sense principles I learned as a small-business owner and as a mayor to how Washington does business."

He said he'll continue to defend American workers and small towns across this country by opposing any attempt to grant amnesty to those that are in the country illegally.

"And, judging from the letters and phone calls I receive, the concerns people share with me when I am touring their town or meeting with community leaders, it is clear that the people of my district are deeply concerned about the negative effects of Obamacare. Just recently, the pressure I and many of my colleagues put on the Internal Revenue Service prevented the agency from treating volunteer firefighters as employees for federal tax purposes," he noted.

As a result, volunteer fire and rescue companies will not have to face crushing Obamacare costs for their volunteers. "I will still be pursuing legislation to write the protection of volunteer firefighters into law, so that this issue will not be subject to the whims of IRS policy makers," he said.

He said his legislative efforts have included the Disaster Loan Fairness Act of 2013, something he said he did in response to the federal government not doing enough to help families and businesses rebuild after Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.

"There's still a great deal of work to be done in Washington and I humbly and sincerely ask for the support of the people of the 11th District," Barletta said. "Together, with their help, support and prayers we will put America back on the right track and guarantee a better opportunity for our children and our grandchildren."