Want some leadership? John Stoffa has publicly called for Joe Long's resignation as party boss. He's an embarrassment to emerging "new Democrats," who are sick of the undemocratic machine politics being forced on them by Long. Instead of relying on party machines and pay to play campaign contributions, Stoffa is taking his campaign to the people, as he has successfully done before. His active campaign blog, the work of son Jeff, gives a detailed view of John's outlook.
So just what is his political agenda? He has supported and even appointed some Republicans. Is he a turncoat?
I got my answer a few days ago, talking to him after a baseball game. "I always ask my cabinet one question. What's the right thing to do?" That's it. Pretty simple, huh? Instead of being motivated by a desire to elect Democrats or Republicans, Stoffa has always been more interested in doing the right thing, without regard to the political fall out. When Council wanted to ram building projects down Stoffa's throat, he resisted screams to build something, anything. They wanted to be able to take credit for something in their reelection campaigns, but Stoffa was more interested in being frugal in an uncertain economy. Who was right?
Council members like Charles Dertinger, who is taking credit for open space in his reelection bid, actually fought tooth and nail to kill Stoffa's "pay as you go" open space plan. Who did the right thing?
Stoffa resisted efforts, led by Council member Lamont McClure, to cook the books and deplete the cash reserve. This would likely have led to budgetary problems similar to those faced by many municipalities, including Allentown. Who did the right thing?
Council members like Ann McHale and Charles Dertinger stoke the union flames, actually encouraging union members to present their grievances to council instead of an arbitration panel. Stoffa stopped allowing deputies to take their cruisers home. Who did the right thing?
And so it goes.
People sense this. On Friday, while walking through a courthouse hall, two workers asked me for Stoffa signs. That evening, as I took signs out of my jeep to store them in my apartment, I was asked, "Do you think he'll win?"
"Thank God." The person who asked me this is a local government official whose father had the same political agenda.