|Tom Muller with his wife, MJ|
He chose the triangle for his announcement because that's where the so-called "reform" team of County Commissioners wanted to send $209,000 in CDBG funds back to the federal government.
"I'm running for Lehigh County Exec because I'm not running for Congress. I'm running to serve the people of Lehigh County.
"I've heard an awful lot of talk over the last year over why we can't take this money (referring to Emmaus Green Future fund grant money) from the government because we have a national debt or we owe China money. I think the job of County Executive is to serve everybody in the County, to work for you, to bring as much of our money that we send to Washington back here rather than to say, 'No thank you, I don't want it because you've got a national debt problem.'
"We have - they happen to be Republican - but we have two very solid people who are down there representing us right now. Actually three if you count Mr. Casey. But we've got Charlie Dent, we've got Pat Toomey. I know them both very well. Their job is to solve things like national debt. That's not what I think we have to do in the County, and unfortunately, we've come close to turning down some money."
Muller referred to what Lehigh County's ultra-conservative block of Commissioners do as "cliffsmanship."
"It's a word I've made up. It's an interesting game. What happens is you invent an unnecessary cliff that wasn't there, then you dance around the edge for weeks at a time, holding things hostage, and then you find some very lame reason as why you can back away from the cliff without falling off, ... and then you declare that you did something wonderful, that somehow you did your job and were diligent ... . That's nonsense. That's the kind of nonsense I think belongs in Washington. It doesn't belong in Le- t doesn't belong in Washington, either. It certainly doesn't belong in Lehigh County. That's not what everyone out there wants. I think they want straight talk ... ."
Surprisingly, businessman Muller stated that one of his focuses as Exec would be to get at-risk kids out of that category and on the straight and narrow by working with community leaders and schools. "It's a lot easier to build strong children than repair broken adults," he said, claiming he has heard that phrase.
Muller's announcement was attended by Lehigh County Democratic leaders Bar Johnston and Rick Dougherty, Allentown mayor Edwin Pawlowski, Democratic Commissioner candidates Geoff Brace, David Jones and Wes Barret. His wife, MJ, was also with him.
When Muller saw me, he called me the "pseudo press," as he likes to call me. I called him the "pseudo Exec."
I told him I was already half-frozen after Callahan's announcement at Gracedale, and that if he went longer than five minutes, I'd be voting for Scott Ott. He went six. Bastard! I live in Northampton County.
In an attempt to warm up, I tried shaking hands with Pawlowsi. My hand immediately turned to ice while Fleck stole my wallet.
Assuming that Muller has no primary opponent, he will face the winner of the Republican primary battle between Scott Ott and Dean Browning. Scott Ott is part of the "reform" team about which Muller complained. Muller refers to Browning as a gentleman.
Text of Muller's Announcement:
My name is Tom Muller, and I am a Democrat running for Lehigh County Executive.
My wife and I moved to the Lehigh Valley twenty-three years ago. What we found was a close-knit community where common sense prevailed and we’ve built our life here with two wonderful kids. My extraordinary wife, MJ, is deeply immersed in the Valley—running the St. Thomas More School kitchen, where she feeds 600 people each day, and getting a women’s shelter she launched last year through its first year and well-funded for the future. Our son is a freshman at Wake Forest University and our 6th grader, Joy, has us on the field hockey or soccer sidelines most weekends. We have a very full life in the Lehigh Valley.
I’m running for Lehigh County Executive because I believe in this community. I believe in our businesses. I believe in our law enforcement community. I believe that it is the place of government to keep our communities safe and to create the kind of environment in which businesses and families can thrive.
I am not particularly concerned with partisan labels. I’m concerned with results. I have worn many hats in my lifetime. I have worked in the private sector, and I have worked in the public sector. I’ve been a union member and chief negotiator for management teams negotiating fair contracts with unions. I have been a Republican and I have worked in a Democratic administration for seven years.
But I will always bear in mind that this is the people’s government. It’s “Your” Lehigh County. This government is here to provide what’s required for you, what you need and what you believe the County can provide best of what you want.
My time in the private and public sectors has taught me that total quality of life is most critical. It’s what makes Lehigh County attractive to businesses. It’s what makes this an ideal place to raise a family.
Good quality of life starts with a first-rate public safety and justice system, but it also extends to providing services to those in need and providing the kinds of recreational, entertainment and developmental opportunities that can only exist in a safe community.
I also believe that it’s important to balance quality of life, public safety and the delivery of services with a "right-sized" government operation focused on efficiency and effectiveness. I believe that government exists to serve its residents and I believe that it’s important to spend our taxpayers’ money wisely.
I don’t believe that we should simply gut government and slash spending just because some politician or team of politicians made an uninformed but convincing campaign promise. There is always room for improvement in any operation and Lehigh County government is no exception, but I believe that government has a job to do, and we must fund it appropriately in order for it to perform those functions.
I believe in straight talk. I don’t like empty promises, and you won’t hear any from me. I plan to proactively seek input from Lehigh County’s taxpayers. I won’t just assume that I know what’s best or that there’s only one side to an issue just because I won an election.
I will not turn away your tax dollars when the Federal government tries to return them to us in the form of grants and programs. I’m running for Lehigh County Executive, not Congress. We send some very talented elected officials to Washington to deal with big issues such as the national debt. If I can get some of your tax dollars back from Washington or Harrisburg to apply to Lehigh County’s needs, I’ll do it.
But getting those funds is not where my responsibility should end. We need to ensure that those funds are being applied effectively and efficiently, which means a greater focus on outcomes and being more demanding with the service providers.
We still have more to do on the public safety front but there are other key issues that I believe need to be addressed in the coming term. They include overhauling our outdated senior center concept, partnering to bring the number of recreational venues in line with the demand and working with community leaders, schools and groups to get “at risk” kids on the right track and keep others from becoming “at risk”. As I heard someone say not too long ago, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults,”--- and it’s a lot less costly to the taxpayers.
You may be wondering why I’ve chosen to launch my campaign at this location—Triangle Park in Emmaus—on this brisk winter afternoon and what credentials I have to be County Executive.
I chose this location because it has a strong link to what I believe is a disturbing trend by a bloc of our Lehigh County Commissioners who have become adept at what I call “Washington cliffsmanship”—creating an unnecessary “cliff,” dancing along the edge until the last minute, finding a lame way to avert the fall and then declaring that they’ve done something good.
Triangle Park was supported in part by Green Future funds from the County and it was budgeted Green Future funds for another Emmaus project and projects for five other municipalities that those commissioners recently held hostage for two months. They have also balked at approving pass-through CDBG funds.
CDBG funding has been applied to provide mandated curb cuts throughout downtown Emmaus that otherwise would have been an additional cost to the citizens.
The need to end this “cliffsmanship” and the focus on political philosophy is what has encouraged me to run for County Executive and I know it’s what has inspired Wes Barrett to run for Commissioner in this district. Save the political philosophy for Washington; this is Lehigh County and here our citizens want and need action, not debate.
As for my credentials, I’ll give you the short version. A more detailed version will be posted on my website when I get it launched.
I have 40 years of experience in the private sector, including very senior positions in large companies, including President and Chief Operating Officer for Binney & Smith—now Crayola. I’ve also owned small businesses, served on numerous boards and for the past 7 years I’ve been Director of Administration for this county, during which time the County’s bond rating has been raised twice, the infrastructure has been significantly upgraded and we have moved to the top of the class in public safety advancements. I also teach at Cedar Crest College, Chair the Easton Hospital Board that I’ve been on for over 20 years and serve as ViceChairman of the Board of Directors for the Lehigh County Authority.
Lehigh County government is a large business—over $350 million in size and with over 2,000 employees—and I’ll proudly put my credentials for managing it up against any other candidate.
My bottom line is simple. I want to work for the citizens of Lehigh County on Lehigh County issues and needs and without “Washington cliffsmanship” and political philosophy. I believe I have the qualifications needed to do that job for you and hope you’ll agree with me at the voting booth.