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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why Don't You Run For Local Office?

One of the questions I'm frequently asked, especially when ragging on some local pol, is why I don't run for office, especially since I already think I know everything.

Hey, the world needs gadflies, too!

Let's face it, I'm far more effective as a pain in the ass than I could ever be sitting behind some dais, wearing some suit and tie or a sexy dress, depending on my mood. During courtesy of the floor, I could never stand listening to wingnuts like me. Also, a practical matter, I'd never be elected. Even I would never vote for me. True, I'm quite handsome, but I'm also an impoverished and alcoholic ex-lawyer so irresponsible I still get parking tickets at least once every week.

Despite my own clear incompetence, people who read and contribute to this blog should seriously consider seeking local office next year. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of partisan backscratchers who may get no parking tickets, but seek office for all the wrong reasons. They hand out city money to restaurants that fail while ignoring a real crime problem. They engage in shouting matches during public meetings, or deliberately mislead the public.

So why don't you run? Next year, we will be voting for county hangmen, school directors, borough and city mayors and council members, township supervisors and commissioners, and mini-judges. For the last four years, the League of Women Voters has conducted a four-hour "Running for Local Office" workshop, specifically designed for Lehigh Valley candidates.

What's required in the way of paperwork? What's your strategy? How do you ask for donations without ending up in jail? Can a political party help? Will the press even notice you? During this seminar, experienced campaigners, party bosses and elections officials will answer those questions. A comprehensive notebook filled with pertinent information is given to every participant.

Here are the details.

When: Saturday, November 22, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (continental breakfast included).

Where: Northampton Community College, Kiva room (circular building), Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, Pa.

Cost: $45, to cover LWV costs. This is no fundraiser.

Download an application? Click here.


Anonymous said...

When an experienced man, Ron Heckman, who has experience on the Council and the Adminstration, was thrown out there you peed on his head. You nailed him to a cross. Saying he was worse than McHale and Dertinger.
I worked with him and for him and he was smart, honest and fair. He cared about what he did and made sure he was close to the ground to head off issues like this monster deficit. Hell, he even got along with Angle, I saw it.

His friends field his name and you call him a crook. He is twice the man you are. No wonder good people don't run. If O'Hare doesn't like you you are automatically 'no good', shame on you!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 1:30,

There is something seriously wrong with you. You keep claiming I have some axe to grind against Heckman, but you're completely full of shit. My only concern about Heckman is supporters like you, who've lost touch with reality.

I never claimed he was worse than either Mchale or Dertinger, and would certainly place him higher than Dertinger.

I never "peed on his head" when he left Northampton County. Nor did I ever call him a crook. My only criticism is his supporters, who are either liars or totally nutz.

I've looked back at some of my prior statements about Heckman. On 4/24/07, when he was running for Bethlehem City Council, I called him "affable." On 6/26/07, in a blog about the next exec race, I stated, "Currently doing a good job in Lehigh County with local municpalities, Heckman's previous gig was as Director of Human Services when Glenn Reibman was at the helm of a sinking ship in Northampton County. Most members of the Reibman administration shunned county council meetings, but Heckman attended every one. He clearly cares about the county. But having failed in his bid for Bethlehem City council, he must be having second thoughts." Does this sound like a condemnation?

In comments, I add this. "He always gave me the impression he really cared about his job, too. He's always been fairly even-tempered."

My concern about Heckman, and I've expressed this several times, is that he is too close to the pay-to-play crowd that surrounded Reibman. And supporters like you don't help his cause.

Anonymous said...


I have also frequently been "challenged" to run for office - or told that I should shut up. Some even have questioned my "manliness", as if only politicians have manly qualities - a premise I would argue with.

But the technique is understandable. Suck you into the fray of politics, which is actually the problem with government. Then you cannot get enough money from the government suckups - and a vast majority of the money is basically a 'wager' placed on who will probably win so they can get favors not an investment in ideas.

Then suffer the open and the backdoor whispering campaigns about personality, past lives, and how the perfect resume is more important than ideas.

Then when you lose, people can discredit you.

I view such things as a vindication of what we are all doing. If we were not effective at challenging and questioning the failures of government - politicians - they would not care. Nor would they desire to suck us into the failed system that has failed society in such catastrophic ways.

If the club of elitists and powerbrokers were the way to go, our society would have far less problems. So refusing to participate in such a losing system seems like the way to go.

Politicians fear an open and honest discussion of what is happening in our society because it exposes the hypocrisy of the system that allows politicians to thrive. That, they cannot stand because transperancy and accountability are the most effective tools of fixing government incompetence.

It is far more effective than playing in a rigged system that continually produces massive failures. And it is incredibly offensive that any "insider" would deign to argue that unless you are a politician or run for office, that you somehow have no right to comment about politics and policy.

There is no more un-American a sentiment than that!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"And it is incredibly offensive that any "insider" would deign to argue that unless you are a politician or run for office, that you somehow have no right to comment about politics and policy."

Norco Council member Charles Dertinger goes so far as to say that, unless you own real estate, council has no obligation to listen to you.

Anonymous said...

Oh No!!! Bernie, why did you ask that question?

Now Sam Bennett will hear it and decide, "Yes! Why don't I run for another office? After all, I am a nice person and my hair is even better looking than Charlie Dent's."

Anonymous said...

Why good people do not run for office.
1. MONEY It costs more to run for county council than the job pays.
It means constant begging and grovelling for money from friends, relatives and fat cats. You just can't beat the sleaze balls who are funded by special interest groups without BIG cash in your own pocket.

2. A complete loss of life during ever lengthening campaign seasons, you and your family are always on display and you must appear everywhere. Miss one event and you are a pariah in that neighborhood, or demographic.Kiss your family life goodbye!

3. your entire family will be subject to scrutiny with the intent to persoanlly destroy you as the candidate and anyone who you hold dear. The politics of personal destruction is one of the biggest deterents to public service. No one wants their childrens' lives dissected and rumor and inuendo to take over a previously good reputation.

4.People like Scissorhands who will actually attack you physically and think nothing of it. He will spend his own cash to tell lies about anyone he doesn't like and get away with it. Sleaze like this destroys democracy.

5. Lord help you if you win..You live under a microscope and become a public pinata on the blogs, in the papers and over coffee at the diner

In the end good people with good ideas, admirable ethics and their government's best intersts at heart will not and do not run. What you are left with is puppets of special interests and scissorhands running government.

Why would ANYONE want to do that...
I am frequently asked to run for office. No thanks, I prefer to work in the background to help braver people than me step up to try to save this system, by helping choose good canidates and get them elected despite the forces of politics as usual

Anonymous said...

Blogmeister, your misplaced concerns about Ron Heckman underscore a shallow sense of county, state and US history. I'll start and end with county--did u or your father or your father's allies express the same fear of so called pay to play when Bechtel was considering taking over the first Executive position; how about the sainted Gene Hartzell; Jerry Seyfried? Bill--ill get some bucks from Diomedo's crowd and last minute ads from shl? And ask John Stoffa who he backed secretly in 1997?

Judge a candidate on his or her ideas and experience, your continual maligning of Reibman is old, tired and absent any sense of history.

Ron is a good, capable, effective man and would be a great Executive.

Anonymous said...

Bernie gets and atta-boy. I've been talking to people interested in the LVWV workshop myself.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Not so casual onserver,

You sum things up quite nicely.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 8:42,

I am sure you are right - Ron is everything you say. But I would be looking very closely at how he funds his campaign, as I do with everybody. As far as maligning Reibman is concerned, I barely mention the guy. Once again, I consider him personally to be a gentleman. But he took pay to play and exalted it to an art form, way beyond anything you saw from Hartzell or Bechtel. People would receive contribution requests with the amounts already checked off. I have spoken to county contractors who, even now, will privately tell me they were told they had to contribute if they expected business. Reibman himself is honest, but people went to jail under Reibman. I think it's right to be concerned. Moreover, some of Ron's defenders here are a little nutz, to be honest. They make false claims and slam everyone else. Look at your own, kinder, comment. You slam my dad, Bechtel, Hartzell, Seyfried and Stoffa. In my humble opinion, that's no way to garner support for Ron.

Anonymous said...

I do not slam your dad or the defenders of the past. I just point to history.

I simply state your slams against heckman are always part n parcel of this anti Reibman tirade. Ron is a good guy. Judge him on his ideas and experience.

And please spare us the tales of poor vendors etc. The stories u dont tell are of that gilded age pre Reibman in which vendors were given no bid contracts. Vendors were given contracts in which family worked for the firm. Cash was king often kept in the Executive's desk. And bags and bags were always given by attorneys, business people, employees and those seeking employment. Hell there was not even a professional HR department until 1998.

The good old days were sullied, soiled and part of the way Norco did business.

That is not a nutty pro-Heckman article. Just context. Just history.

Anonymous said...

Btw, If people want to run for office they should and should be encouraged. The alternative is that gilded age when a few of Marty, Gene, Jerry and others would choose their pals.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Anon 11:01,

How many people went to jail under Bechtel, Hartzell or Jerry? But let's assume you're right about what transpired thirty years ago. Past corruption is no justification for future corruption.

I certainly will judge Heckman by his own ideas and experience. Part of that will include an examination of his financial backers.

If he wants the job, he should definitely run and give people a choice. I, for one, will be very interested in the accusations of rampant pay to play under previous execs and the claim that gobs of cash were kept in the executive desk.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully you won't pre-judge anyone the way you have pre-judged Heckman. I am a Republican who knows him as well as McHale and Grucella. I also know some of Heckman's Republican relatives.

I hope you follow the money on all candidates including him, if he runs.

As far as judging him by the comments on your blog. You know Bernie some people could judge Stoffa by being buds with you and Angle, now would it be fair to lump him in that comapany?

All the Best from the Elephants

Anonymous said...

people who run for political office are the best citizens we have, particularly those who serve on the school boards and the part-time offices in the cities and counties.

the problems come after they get elected and get totally co-opted by the body in which they serve.

the challenge is not in looking for candidates, although that is important, but in meaking these offices welcome to reasonable, non-psychotic citizens.

are you listening, Allentown City Council???

Anonymous said...

There is a "Running for Local Office" class being offered this Saturday, November 22nd by the League of Women Voter of Northampton County. We badly need bright, intelligent, reasonable citizens to run for public office. I would highly recommend the class to anyone who is considering running for local office for the first time or for someone who may run in the past, as a refresher. I found it invaluable when I ran. It provided a wealth of information that will benefit any candidate. If you are interested in attending please contact:
610-432-1456 (LWV Lehigh County)610-252-1339 (LWV Northampton County)

Erik Chuss - Forks Township Board of Supervisors

Bernie O'Hare said...

Erik, Thank you for your comment and for sharing your experience. I did mention the class in my blog.