In addition to being a former member of Council, Neiper's successor should be another Democrat. True, a Democratic council voted three years ago to replace Republican Mary Ensslin with a Democrat, but two wrongs don't make a right. Appointing a Democrat would be consistent with what voters decided.
Fortunately, an experienced former council member and Democrat has confirmed his interest. Jerry Seyfried served on Northampton County Council between 1978 and 1979. He helped write the personnel section of county administrative code as well as the career service employees manual. He spent four years as Vice President and another four years as Council's President. In addition to his legislative experience, he was County Exec between 1990 and 1994, leaving the county with a $20 million surplus. He continued his career as Director of Court Services between 1998 and 2006.
No one - and I mean no one - has a deeper understanding of county government than Jerry. He still carries dog-eared copies of the Home Rule Charter and can often recite resolutions adopted in the 80s.
Jerry tells me he's currently involved in assembling a Northampton County history between 1952 and 2002. "Somebody's got to write this history while people are still alive to tell the story. Wouldn't it have been great to interview [former Comm'r and Council member] Jim Hemstreet?"
Jerry notes that in the 50s, seventy per cent of our jobs were in manufacturing or textiles, but that's all gone. "We lost Bethlehem Steel. We lost eight or nine cement companies. But our unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country. Why is that? It's the Walter Dealtrys, the LVIPs; their story needs to be told."
Seyfried would like to take a close look at the county budget, paying particular attention to where real estate tax revenue is spent. "What kind of people are in prison? Do they all need to be there. We need to reduce recidivism. A lot of counties have wonderful programs. We need to do that."
Jerry even volunteered his thinking about a regional health bureau. "I don't know how you vote no if they tell you it's not costing any money. How do you say no to that? Once it costs money, then it's time to question it."
This guy really cares about Northampton County. He could easily handle all kinds of controversies with pains in the ass like me. But when construction workers jackhammered the shit out of beautiful slate slabs surrounding the courthouse - reminders of our slate belt heritage - Jerry actually broke down in tears.
Seyfried is no Long Dem. They passed him over for appointment to two council vacancies several years ago. Jerry is no Stoffa sycophant, either. He insists that the retirement board needs its own independent lawyer while Stoffa insists the solicitor's office can handle the job.
On Friday, Ron Angle told me he would support Jerry, which might be the kiss of death. But he really is the best choice, and one that should have been made several years ago. Above, you will see a picture of Jerry and me.