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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, October 19, 2009

Walter Felton: The Very Long Arm of the Law

Affable Walter "Juni" Felton, Jr. is running for magistrate in downtown Allentown (wards 3, 13, 17 & 18). I've known Walter several years and have only met his opponent, Chief Ron Manescu, on the campaign trail. But after listening ansd speaking to them both, I'll tell you this is one race where the voters will be well-served by either candidate.

There's a Morning Call story about this race, and you can read more about Walter at his webpage. What sets him apart is his compassion. You can see his speech to the NAACP here.

"Excuse my voice. I've been out knocking on doors and I lost my voice. I'm tryin' to get over to ya' [having trouble with mike wire]. I'm running for district magistrate.

"First, let me give you a quick synopsis. I'm deep-rooted in Allentown. I'm a product of the Allentown School District 'till eleventh grade and my sister - I'm the youngest of seven children - upon her moving to a new home - she got moved to [?] Street to a hosing project - and at that time I got drafted by Salisbury High School to play basketball; also, to attend school.

"Upon graduating and community college for a semester, I decided to go on and serve my country. I served in the US Army six years, two years in the Air Force and another two years in the Naval Reserve, all honorably discharged.

"To speed this up, I've been out, knocking on doors, speaking with people, and I have this feeling some people think this race is about race. It's not about Mr. Manescu or myself. It's not about race, white or black.

"Some think it's about two police officers fighting for retirement. That's not there because I already retired once.

"This is about someone who's been persistent and about making change in the City of Allentown. I've been walking around these streets, I've been working all my life, about change for the community, about the children, whatever.

"It is said, in the paper, that me winning this, would be the first Afro American in the history of the county. It may be true but it's bigger that that and you need to know why.

"The candidate who wins this also does not have to retire until he's seventy years old. The thing about that is the average magistrate in all these offices here is approximately 50 plus. So that's twenty years. That's twenty years of no change. That's about a piece of the pie that none of us have ever seen - a person of different color. And this is not race. This is abut change, this about someone who worked their way up the ladder, and took their bruises and passes at the bottom of the rope, and kept pushing it.

"That's why I want to be your magistrate. I'm ready to take some more bruises and make it ready for the other young kids and people in the community to be safe."


Anonymous said...

Bernie is it proper for a district justice to have all those political signs on his yard (about 20 are there).
I thought justices are supposed to be fair and impartial. Seeme to be unethical to me.

Bernie O'Hare said...

A judicial candidate must avoid politics and it would be improper for Walter to have signs of other candidates in his yard.