One seat is only for a two-year term. It is the balance of Karen (K. Dierdre) Dolan's unexpired term. She resigned at the request of a Northampton County Investigating Grand Jury. Her position is being sought by Jeff Kocsis, Matt McKernan and Olga Negron. Kocsis works for Lehigh County in the register of Wills office, and Negron is employed by the Bethlehem Area Public Library. McKernan owns Mosaic, an ad agency in Bethlehem.
"We on Council have done everything we can," noted Recchiuti. He told the audience that the 911 tab this year is $3.4 million, and Bethlehem is paying $2.1 million of it.
Several candidates pointed their finger at Harrisburg, and State Rep. Dan McNeill pointed out that all 83 Democrats voted to continue finding 911.
Reynolds stated that when a single hauler proposal was first floated by Mayor Callahan, his mother gave him an ultimatum. "If you vote for single hauling, take the yard sign out," she warned him. "I've known my garbage man longer than I've known you, and he's more reliable."
McKernan stated that, from a pure business perspective, single hauler makes sense because it is much better service at about half the cost. But he said that it's still a bad idea because it would take jobs and income away from people. "When you hire a Bethlehem hauler, that business stays in Bethlehem," he observed.
Kocsis, Martel and Colon all spoke of giving people the right to choose. Martel stated he'd be unable to sleep at night if he voted to pass a bill "that would cause people to lose their jobs."
Martel pointed out that it will cost $40 million to remediate problems at the site, which include asbestos. Negron stated she has a "lot of hope" for the building (there are actually several buildings) but that the City "needs to do a better job reaching out to developers."
Pointing out that he lives on the west side, Kocsis advised being "vigilant" and watchful. "Your concerns are mine,:" he said to the largely West Bethlehem audience.
Reynolds noted that demolishing the building might release a lot of asbestos in the air. Whatever plans are ultimately produced must "balance the needs of the neighborhood," he stated.
4. If you had to cut, where would you do it? - Reynolds joked that he'd eliminate the $25 currently paid to Gus Loupos to conduct zoning hearings. Recchiuti stated that he does not think it would be possible to pick any one thing, but suggested a possibility with recreation. Colon proposed closing a few swimming pools. Martel agreed with cuts to recreation and overtime. Kocsis seemed to object to the question."You can't just go in with a machete and cut away," he complained. Negron suggested recruiting volunteers and students to save costs.
"I don't want to cut anything," said McKernan. "We just need to be more efficient." He added it would be "short-sighted" to close the pools because the kids would start getting in trouble.