If a vacancy in the office of an elected official occurs during the last two (2) years of the term of office, the County Council within thirty (30) days after the occurrence shall appoint an individual to fill the vacancy by resolution. If the County Council fails to appoint an individual to fill the vacancy within thirty (30) days after the occurrence of the vacancy, the Court, upon the petition of any member of the County Council or any five (5) registered voters of the County, shall appoint an individual to fill the vacancy within fifteen (15) days after the filing of the petition. The individual appointed to fill the vacancy shall take office immediately upon appointment and shall serve the unexpired term of office of the elected official.Unlike Lehigh County's Home Rule Charter, which requires that the vacancy be filled by a person who belongs to the same political party as the person who vacated the office, a Northampton County Council vacancy can be filled by a Democrat, Republican, Green Party member or Whig. The only requirement is that the person appointed must have been a county resident for at least a year.
That's a problem. Can an evenly-divided Northampton County Council put aside partisan differences to agree on a replacement? Don't hold your breath. Judges will likely make this appointment. Here's a few of the names I've heard.
John Maher - In his race against Ron Angle last November, Maher disingenuously claimed to be running a positive campaign while simultaneously bad-mouthing Angle in debates and at county council. His monstrous anonymous robo-calls and sleaze mailings infuriated most of the slate belt. Maher went down in flames, 5,583 to 4,495. I'd say the people have spoken.
Tony Branco - Unable to run a positive campaign on a nonexistent record, he instead rolled around in the mud in his race against popular Peg Ferraro, hiding behind the skirts of dirty dealer Tom Severson. This dude was so lazy he failed to answer a LWV questionnaire. Peg crushed him, 18,354 to 15,113.
Bill Wallace - A recent arrival in Northampton County, Wallace refrained from the divisive politics encouraged by Branco and Maher, instead running a clean campaign focused on bringing passenger rail to the Lehigh Valley. Mike Dowd, who defeated Bill 5027 to 4082, is ironically the council member who introduced the rail transportation study. Bill is certainly worth a second look.
Bill Hall - Bill briefly toyed with the idea of running for Congress, but backed off. He is an independent-minded Democrat who detests machine politics. "Right now, I believe, that the people who run local politics, or federal politics, they don't really represent the people. They go ahead and they pick the candidates they want and they take those candidates and they promote them. They funnel money to them. They get them publicity. And then they endorse them. And I don't think that's right. I think it should be up to the people." Looks like another Bill that fits the bill.
Tom Dietrich - Tom had the guts to wage a campaign against Northampton County's Queen of Hearts, Ann McHale. He was hammered, 4,733 to 2,293. In fact, I'm surprised he's still alive. Tom, who still maintains a web page, brings youth, a level head and a much needed breath of fresh air.
Ismael Arcelay - A former AT&T employee, Arcelay served as an appointed Bethlehem City Council member for three years and is now working for Ed Pawlowski in Allentown. According to the Center for Progressive Leadership, he's a party machine guy- a member of the Northampton County Democratic executive committee. He brings much needed diversity, but I I doubt any of the Republicans on Council will support a machine Democrat.
Mark Schwartz - Coming out of nowhere, Schwartz very nearly defeated Lamont McClure in November, losing by a scant 91 votes despite spending no money. Party boss Joe Long has demanded an investigation, so I doubt any Democrats will support his bid for appointment. He has a web page and claims he's running. "We need to keep spending as low as possible to provide quality services to taxpayers without an increase in taxes."
Louis Gallucci - A former Bethlehem Township Commissioner, Gallucci was very impressive when he applied for the vacancy filled by McClure. He clearly understands municipal government.
Do you know anyone who is interested? How about one of you?