About Me

My photo
Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Barron, Heffner Prevail in NorCo's Sweet 'n Sour Debate

Phillips a little uncomfortable shaking hands after debate
I'd call it the sweet 'n sour debate. Last night, Northampton County's Controller candidates Steve Barron (Democratic incumbent) and Hayden Phillips (Republican challenger squared off in a debate at Gracedale's Chapel before a crowd of about 100 supporters. Their clash was immediately followed by a forum featuring the County Council for Districts 3 and 4. In District 3, Democrat Lori Vargo Heffner and Republican John Cusick seek the seat being vacated by Lamont McClure at the end of this year. In District 4, incumbent Democrat Scott Parsons is fending off a challenge by pilot Matt Dietz. This event was sponsored by Northampton County's League of Women Voters. It is the only candidates' night scheduled, but most of the people there already have made up their minds.

Dietz gets last-minute pointers from his daughter
In the Controller clash, Hayden Phillips, a current member of Council, immediately went on the attack. Noting media accounts describing Barron as the "worst Controller ever, he accused him of "dirty politics." He belittled Barron's Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE) status. "CFE stands for 'I'm not an accountant,'" he charged, calling him a "festering sore that has to be cured." He claimed Barron is "capable of any misdeed."

For his part, Barron tried his best to remain congenial. He admitted that he has made mistakes, but argued he is a different person at age 38 than he was at age 30.

Arlene Klocek gives us a bright smile
He did attack Phillips for his role in proposing what ended up being a one mill tax hike last year, but Phillips countered that financial projections had indicated the County would only have $1 million in the till at the end of last year.

In robocalls, Barron has suggested that Phillips would try to privatize Gracedale. Phillips responded that, as Controller, he "would not take a policy position. I would not be pro or con. That goes out the window." As a Council member, Phillips admitted that he does support a free study of the advantages of forming a 501c3, and noted that pro-Gracedale Democrats like Bob Werner and Scott Parsons agree with him.

When it was over, I asked several Republicans whether Phillips had won. "He lost," responded one of them, a sentiment that was echoed by several others who are still going to vote for him.

Phillips came on too strong, while Barron was congenial and even spoke to a fellow who was heckling him during the debate.Barron actually apologized to the guy. People like sour sauce and sweet sauce, but Phillips was simply too sour.
(From L to R, Matt Dietz, Scott Parsons, NorCo LWV Prez Beverly Hhernandez, Lori Vargo Heffner and John Cusick)

In the Council debates, I'd expect to see John Cusick or Scott Parsons come out on top. Both are very knowledgeable about County government. Nobody works harder than Scott Parsons, who had a near 100% attendance rating at Council and Committee meetings last year.

This debate was far more civil, to the point where it became boring. Arlene Dereskiewicz Klocek had to nudge me awake at one point as I began to doze off.

Though they were all impressive, the winner of this debate would have to be Lori Vargo Heffner. She had a good self-deprecating sense of humor, and conveyed an image of sincerity that seemed to impress even the hard-line conservatives who surrounded me. "She seems like such a nice woman," a tea party member told me as the debate went on.

She was the sweet sauce to compliment the sour sauce from Phillips.

"Why the heck should you vote for a psychotherapist for County Council?" she asked. After the laughter subsided, this double master's degree recipient noted that 48% if the Countys budget deals with human services. "I feel I have something to offer."

Cusick, a high school math teacher who is a bit a=of a wonk, championed the idea of converting Gracedale into a 501c3 before other counties began actively pursuing it. He also spoke of needs for improvements at the 1870's era jail. "To say it's functionally obsolete is an understatement" he noted.

Parsons stressed his inclusive approach to government."Rs and Ds don't matter," he said. "We've got to make sure we provide the services to the people that need them."

Matt Dietz, whose young daughter was giving him a pep talk before the action started, worked his way up from a baggage handler at the Airport to a pilot and small business operator. He spiced his remarks with what people tell him as he goes door-to-door. From speaking to police officers and municipal officials, he pointed to a need for a central booking station in Northampton County so that officers can get back on the road. He'd also work for a more proactive approach to drug overdoses.

All the candidates did very well, and all certainly proved they are worthy of support.

At one point in the evening, Heffner offered this advice. "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Don't say it mean." She seemed to follow that mantra the best. Phillips, not so much.

29 comments:

Ron Beitler said...

Not really knowing any of these candidates very well I thought Cusick and Parsons did best in that order.

You are right Heffner very likable. And I agree with her that a background in human services is helpful since it's such a huge part of what the County does. What I didn't like was not having an answer for re-assessment question. That's a pretty big deal and was a very good question.

All 4 candidates were strong. Thanks to them all for running for office and thanks for participating in a debate. Can't say the same thing about Lehigh Co. 4 at large seats. No debate. Disappointing.

Anonymous said...

There was a lot of talk about Phillips tea bagging Barron yesterday. Not so chatty now after the debate. Wonder why?

Anonymous said...

Barron von Footinmouth is contrite when it is politically convenient. If reelected, he will resume his dumbass behavior, guaranteed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

yeah, He slammed Barron about not being sincere, too.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Ron, no question that Cusick and Scott parsons were the most well informed. All 4 impressed.

Anonymous said...

Phillips showed his true colors and his lack of understanding of county government. He used childish attacks and while taking about integrity he put Barron down. Never telling us what he would do. I was so disappointed in him. Last night Phillips lost my vote. Sad to say, but the 38 year old was more mature than a 60 year old retired Marine.

Anonymous said...

Phillips said he would bring integrity and a non-partisan approach to the office. Versus Barron who time and again has used his office for political vendettas. That's enough for me to vote for Phillips.

Bernie O'Hare said...

11:02, I doubt any votes were won or lost among those at the debate. Phillips's supporters are still Phillips's supporters. Not many undecideds go to these debates. I do think they are very good if they are covered so news accounts can inform voters what these candidates are like.

Sezary said...

"Barron was congenial and even spoke to a fellow who was heckling him during the debate. Barron actually apologized to the guy."

I am the fellow to whom Mr. Barron apologized. I was not a "heckler". When Mr. Barron was asked about the "ethics" issues throughout his tenure as controller, He did not answer the question or address those shortcomings. I thought he should address them. After the debate, as Mr. Barron walked by, I said that ethics do matter. He flippantly dismissed my comment with a "right buddy" as he rolled his eyes. A short time later I went up to Mr. Barron to thank him for his service as controller and to congratulate him on a good debate. It was then I told him that I thought he should know that I am a resident of the county and the controller works for me as the taxpayers pay his salary. I also mentioned that to many of his constituents, ethics are important and do indeed matter. I reminded Mr. Barron of his "history" of questionable behavior in office, which is public record, and with which Mr. Barron acknowledged. That is when Mr. Barron apologized for his flippant and dismissive attitude toward my comment. This is the problem with Mr. Barron. He has continued his unethical and unprofessional behavior after council has repeatedly reprimanded him. In the private sector, Mr. Barron would have been terminated a long time ago. Mr. Barron does not seem to think his behavior is inappropriate and "apologizes" when expedient for him to do so. His flippant and arrogant attitude regarding these issues does matter to many constituents of all parties and is why it is time for a new controller.

Bernie O'Hare said...

You most certainly were a heckler. I saw you heckling him throughout the debate, just as a few others were heckling Phillips. That is rude behavior. We are not there to listen to you or to other detractors, but to the candidates. Grow up. I would not give assholes like you the time of day bc you are unDemocratic. This has nothing to do with the merits of what assholes like you are saying, as well as other assholes like Mary Ann Schmoyer, who was heckling Phillips.

Politicians will still speak to assholes like you, but i consider people like you bullies and want nothing to do with you.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sezary looks an awful lot like a guy who was wearing a surgical mask outside of KidsPeace during a demonstration there last Summer. I have a link to the pic below. Perhaps this is not you, but i could not help but think it was when I saw you last night.

http://lehighvalleyramblings.blogspot.com/2014/07/suffer-little-children-unless-theyre.html

Unity PAC 108 said...

Based on an extensive mail correspondence with our dear leader Hayden Phillips will be receiving support from UPAC 108 but we wish Mr. Barron well and hope he can find the strength to attend Jim's release party at Billy's Downtown Diner.

Anonymous said...

The venue for the debate was hardly "neutral." Gracedale zealots like Schmoyer are there all the time, and it is a sympathetic environment for candidates like Barron who have championed county retention of the facility over the years. Barron loaded the place up with his supporters, likely including some patients and their families who were clearly pro-Barron. Debates like these should be at the community college or another more neutral site.

Anonymous said...

1;37 excellent odservation

Anonymous said...

I'm voting Phillips because he's honest and trustworthy and Barron is most certainly not. One's stated positions are worthless if one is sneaky and deceitful and can't be trusted. Barron is sneaky and deceitful and cannot be trusted. End of story.

Anonymous said...

poster 12:14 makers the points that are so frustrating in trying to understand what the teabaggers want. In one breath he is upset that Barron would not answer his question or take it seriously. Then on the other hand he admits Barron spoke to him but he would never, ever vote fro Barron. So why should Barron listen to his tirade, run on question?

I have seen this at other debates and have had other candidates tell me the same thing. I know a few very respectable Democrats who have said they try very hard to be respectful to the reading "Limbaugh/Hannity" style questions of these guys but in the end they already have made up their mind and could care less what the candidate says.

We all know Barron's history, everyone in that room knows Barron's history, so his point was not information but self-aggrandizing diatribes.

This individual made it clear he has no respect for Barron and no intention of voting for him, so why ask him any questions. He did and Barron answered by that was not what the guy wanted, he wanted to hear his own voice.

The teaqbaggers are like a frightened dog that barks and barks and you can never figure out why.

Anonymous said...

I hope the IRS investigates your ass because Unity PAC is a FRAUD!!! Never registered and knowingly took money!!!
Show me the money!!

Anonymous said...

Did anyone explain to Mr. Diets that Northampton County already has a Central Booking facility? Actually I think they have two, one in Bethlehem and one attached to the prison.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I believe Dietz was referring to a booking unit in the slate belt, though he did mention LC.

Anonymous said...

I get the feeling the Jim-Gregory-teabagger-obsessed guy is either in fifth grade with pimples or is an adult who thoroughly enjoys the splendid humiliation of being a teabagee. Different strokes, I guess.

Sezary said...

Annonymous 4:58 PM

I am not a "teabagger". You inaccurately make that assumption without knowing me. I do not watch "Hannity", nor do I listen to Limbaugh. I did not ask Barron any questions. It was asked at the debate. I do not know Mr. Barron personally. I do not like his repeated ethical lapses as controller. I was attempting to make the point that these things do matter to many constituents. Maybe Mr. Barron and you do not think ethics and professionalism are as important in the role of controller as I and many others do. That's a difference of opinion. Everybody has an opinion. Please do not lump me in with others. You have assumed things about me without knowing me and which are not true. What I believe as a constituent is just as legitimate as what any other constituent believes. I, and many others, believe ethics and professionalism are important. That does not make me wrong. You state the problem with the "teabaggers". Your assumptions about me and your attitude toward others who express a different point of view than yourself are also a part of the problem. We need to respect those whose opinions may differ and not put people we do not know in a certain "box" and attempt to know how they think or why. You are correct, I will not vote for Stephen Barron for controller. I will vote for Hayden Phillips, as many others will, mainly because we believe that ethics and professionalism are important in a candidate for an elected, taxpayer accountable, position. You don't have to agree. The voices of those people who do are just as legitimate as your voice.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I certainly have made no assumptions, but did ask a question you have not answered. Also, you are a heckler, and people who do that are right there on the bottom rung with sign thieves and other dirty tricksters. Your interruptions betray your own lack of ethics. That goes for those who were heckling Phillips, too. People like Mary Ann Schmoyer and this loser are the lowest of the low.

Bernie O'Hare said...

1:37, Fair point, but I'm happy the debate was held. Though some people were rude to Phillips, they would be that way anywhere. I have made clear what I think of hecklers.

Sezary said...

Annonymous 4:58 PM

Sorry, forgot to ad....

"So why should Barron listen to his tirade, run on question?"

There was no tirade. Why should Barron listen? He should listen because I am a Northampton County resident. The controller works for the taxpayer, whether that taxpayer is a Republican, Democrat, Independent or even a non-voter. After the debate I did passionately say that ethics do matter. I then shook his hand, thanked him for his service as controller and congratulated him on a good debate. I did then make my thoughts known. He is my controller as well as yours. He, as does other elected officials, needs to be sensitive to the thoughts of those for who he works. He, or others, certainly may not agree. Nobody will agree with everything somebody says or does. I believe that I was respectful, perhaps passionate, as I shared my thoughts. Mr. Barron listened, apologized and was also respectful to this constituent. It was not personal. I wish Mr. Barron well.

Anonymous said...

9:15 AM always gets angry and makes homosexual remarks as way to expressed his anger. this is a pattern with this sick person, who seems to dislike gay people. why ?

Anonymous said...

Why are the teabaggers so angry? You folks named your group. You should have had the Koch brothers give it a different name. What is with your hating gays remark? How do you know what gays dislike? You folks support a guy who wanted to raise taxes 20% but settled for 10%. Why yell at other people.

Anonymous said...

Mr. O'Hare you must stop the constant references to gay slurs. The liberal socialist Democrats are at work here and you must stop it. We all know their agenda of hate and the destruction of American values. The scrotum obsessed left is a driving force in the militant gay agenda backed by progressives.

Anonymous said...

Barron has proved that he has grown up and grown into his job. He does not have to prove anything to conservative tax payers. The guy is an excellent watch dog and that's what this county needs with a guy named Brown steering the ship of state. Vote for Steve with all confidence.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I decided several years ago that though I will never use that word to describe the tea party movement and think it reflects poorly on people who use it, I will permit the aspersion. It is a generalized comment. I also allow mild aspersions about those on the left side of the divide. If this bothers you too much, just skip it. But that is my decision. I have explained this several times and will not explain it again. I will delete further commentary along this line bc it focuses primarily on what you claim to find offensive.