. . . and miles to go before they sleep. Here are the statements they released at yesterday's news conference.
Glenn Eckhart: LC Administrators Raiding Reserve Fund to Cover Deficit (See video here.)
"We stand here today with a simple belief: That it is important for county voters to know where the candidates for Lehigh County Commissioner stand on critical budget, tax, spending and open government issues before they vote in November’s District Commissioner elections.
"The 'Contract with County Taxpayers' that we are unveiling today is the cornerstone of agenda to address those issues.
"Here is the plain truth: The County can no longer gloss over its massive deficit by raiding reserve funds that were never intended to be an excuse for irresponsible spending practices.
"Four years ago, the current County Executive rightfully ran on a campaign against his opponents’ fiscal irresponsibility. The problem is that since his election, he’s done nothing to change the bad habits of the previous administration.
"In fact, he’s made them worse.
"County government now spends 12 million dollars more than it takes in - with no plan to change course.
"If a business does that, they’ll be out of business.
"If a homeowner does that, they’ll be homeless.
"If a politician does it, they can just raise taxes to bail themselves out.
"We can’t allow that to happen here again.
"My opponent likes to call me 'Commissioner No' because of the hard line I take on tax and spending issues, and my refusal to budge from that position.
"In an attempted contrast, she likes to chatter about 'change' without any real plan to accomplish it.
"That’s the difference between us.
"With the announcement today of our “Contract with County Taxpayers”, it is…
* We are the ones with a plan that will deliver positive change for taxpayers.
* We are the ones with substantive ideas and real solutions that will help make Lehigh County an even better place to live for Republicans, Independents and Democrats, alike.
"On the other hand my opponent is offering no new ideas, just rhetoric, while she waits on marching orders from the State and County Democrats running her campaign.
This is the same State and County Democrats, by the way, who want a 1 percent sales tax in Lehigh County, in addition to the state sales tax of 6 percent we already pay.
"I pledge today that the Republican Commissioner candidates I’m running with will never vote to approve this tax here in Lehigh County.
"That’s right. I’m saying - Never.
"But what else would you expect from 'Commissioner No?'
Bob Smith: We Know This Will Make The Unions Angry (Video is above).
"For far too long, politicians have backed away from the tough decisions and the difficult fights necessary to run an effective government.
"They were too worried about the next election.
"That stops today.
"In these tough economic times, there must be shared sacrifice by everyone in government, including the employees.
"We know this is going to make some union bosses angry, but we believe our fair approach will earn the respect of taxpayers across Lehigh County.
"We pledge not to approve any public employee union contract that allows wages to grow faster than County revenues or the COLA received by those on Social Security.
"The days of guaranteed, annual 4 percent increases for County employees, without any regard for the current economic outlook or corresponding county revenue growth, are over.
"Our plan will reform the way County employees are compensated to bring it more in line with what county residents employed in the private sector or receiving Social Security are facing."
Mike Welsh: Payraise Simply Not Right During Recession (You can see Mike's video here).
"That sacrifice also needs to extend to the County Commissioners themselves.
"That is why we will reject the taxpayer-funded pay raise we’d be eligible to receive if we win election in November.
"In the midst of unprecedented economic hardship, it’s simply not right for politicians to take a pay raise, like my opponent sadly plans to do if re-elected this November.
"We will all reject this pay increase, encourage every candidate to do the same, and ask those who have already accepted it to give it back.
"Finally, we want to build upon the comprehensive campaign finance reforms we pushed for earlier this year by limiting to $3,000 the cumulative amount of money we accept from any single campaign donor, either direct or in-kind, for the upcoming general election.
"It was gratifying to have been part of the team who helped enact a more open, transparent system for the reporting of campaign contributions in Lehigh County earlier this year. We believe those reforms are already making a difference.
"But we’re not done.
"We want to prevent the potential for one campaign donor to underwrite most, or in the worst case scenario, all of another candidates’ campaign.
"We believe this kind of financial control over a campaign raises serious questions about whether the person giving the money will have undue influence on the person receiving the money once elected to office.
"To prove our independence, we are pledging to accept no more than $3,000 in the aggregate from any one donor for this election cycle.
"We challenge our opponents to do the same.
"The people of Lehigh County don’t want puppets that are bought and paid for, they want leaders.
"And if they elect us, leaders are what they will get."