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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, April 20, 2015

NorCo Council GOP Candidates Share Views

Lorin Bradley
Last Thursday, while Northampton County Council member Mat Benol was insisting that he knows of no one who is advocating Gracedale's sale and the rest of council was adopting meaningless resolutions to save the nursing home, two Republican council candidates were suggesting the day to sell might have arrived. A third discussed placing the facility in the hands of a nonprofit. These views were made known during a debate for Republican Council candidates at Northampton Community College. (You can see the video here).

There are nine members of Northampton County Council. They are paid $9,500 per year and receive no medical benefits. Considered the "governing body," their primary role is to adopt the budget. They control the purse strings. Five members are at-large, while the remaining four are elected from four different geographical districts. There are currently five Republicans and four Democrats.

The four district seats are up this year. In District One, which includes Bethlehem and Hanover Township, Democrat Ken Kraft is running unopposed. In District Two, which includes the Easton area, Democrat Bib Werner is also running unopposed. But Districts Three and Four are another story. Democrat Lamont McClure announced earlier this year that he had decided against rel-election to District Three, which has become much more Republican since Williams Township was added to its roster.  And District Four, which includes the slate belt and northern tier, is considered a safe Republican stronghold.

Matt Dietz
In District Three, the winner of the primary race between Republicans Mickey Thompson and John Cusick, will go on to face Democrat Lori Vargo Heffner. In District Four Democrat Scott Parsons, the incumbent, will square off against the winner of the battle between Republicans Matt Dietz and Lorin Bradley.

Who are these candidates?   

Mickey Thompson is the CFO and in house counsel at Abe Atiyeh's Pennsylvania Venture Capital, Inc. he claimed his company specializes in taking "unloved, unwanted and unused properties" and turning them into "productive assets." He worked on the DUI center, which ultimately was located in West Easton in one of those "unloved, unwanted and unused properties"..Mickey also helped form three charter schools in the Lehigh Valley, boasting 1,000 students and 100 teachers. His job duties also include Saucon Valley Manor and Whitehall Manor, which are assisted living facilities for seniors. "I just want to help," is what he stated is his reason for running.

John Cusick
John Cusick is a LU grad who went into retail and sold building supplies, but did not like it. He decided on education and has been a high school teacher in New Jersey for the past 19 years. He is a former Williams Township Supervisor, and served for two terms on NorCo Council, including three years as its President. Noting that most Council members are in their first term, Cusick stated he would bring experience back to the Board. He pledged to work with a Republican County Exec.

Lorin Bradley.is Mr. Corporate America, and I mean that in a positive way. He has two Master's degrees and has been involved in human resources and labor relations for 25 years. "What I do as a professional is work with conflict and try to resolve conflict," he stated, His goal in the business world in to Develop solutions that are workable for all parties. He is involved in Boy Scouts, is himself and Eagle Scout, coached, and appears to be a deeply spiritual man.

Mickey Thompson
Matt Dietz. claimed to be the product of a broken home who bounced around in Jersey until moving to Wind Gap at age 14. Right away, he felt like he was at home. A pilot, he worked at it in high school and in community college. He also helped start a catering business, which grew into a coffee shop and deli on Main Street in Bethlehem. "I understand what small businesses go through," he assured everyone. He stated that he is pro-life and that he and his wife are Sunday school teachers.

How do they stand on the issues? 

Gracedale. - Dietz calls it an "emotional question" but states "there's a red line there." He stated the County can't afford to write a check every year. "Privatize as much as we can out of it," he recommends to give the County "better bargaining power to sell the property." Bradley echoed Dietz' remarks, but believes there should be a "top down analysis first."

John Cusick, who supported selling Gracedale while on Council, now favors converting it into a 501c3 non profit similar to what Centre County Commissioners did at their publicly owned nursing home.

Mickey Thompson opposes the sale of Gracedale. He believes the facility can transition to perform medical services for residents and become a profit center. .

Home Rule Charter and Admin Code Overhaul.- All candidates believe it;s time for an overhaul. "You can't have a county exec of any party playing by his own rules," states Mickey Thompson. .

PR consultant. - With the exception of Bradley, all candidates condemned the use of taxpayer money to fund PR consultants. "If  the Executive can't communicate in his own, you need different leaders," stated Thompson. Elected officials should "speak for themselves, not through a mouthpiece," added Cusick. Bradley's argument in favor of a PR consultant is that "[c]hange will fail unless you have an effective communications plan." But Dietz observed it's "not doing very well."

Open Space.- Thompson was highly critical of last year's decision to bail out a financially troubled golf course developer's "bad business decisions." Dietz agreed there should be no spending at a time when the county "is hurting for money." While refusing to condemn open space funding, Cusick stated that Council needs to say no to "bad deals."  Bradley supports open space funding.

One mill tax hike. All candidates save Thompson supported it. Thompson claimed it was based on projections that turned out to be false. But Cusick warned that "[o]perating with little or no reserves is extremely dangerous."

$10,000.Spending limit - With the exception of Cusick, all candidates supported a $10,000 or slightly higher limitation on executive spending. Cusick. called the measure "micromanagement," adding "Council should be involved in purchasing toilet paper." But Thompson.countered that government should be in no rush to make bad decisions. If you have to approve a case of toilet paper, you should be responsible enough to do that."

Residency requirement for county workers.All candidates oppose this proposal Cusick stated that new Jersey, which has imposed such a requirement, is having a hard time finding qualified people.


Anonymous said...

Dietz needs to do his homework. Our county taxes were raised in 2008 to fund open space. If he doesn't want to fund it, then put forth a resolution to rescind that tax increase - not the bull shit Brownstain tried this last year where he tried to steal all of it for general purposes and thought nobody would notice.

Anonymous said...

Dietz and Cusick look they were separated at birth.

Anonymous said...

Lorin Bradley always looks to raise taxes first. His record on Nazareth Area School Board is shocking. He wouldn't know fiscal responsibility if it bit him in the ass.

Anonymous said...

ditch the HRC and go back to a three commissioner form of government...#ultimateaccountability

Anonymous said...

Im not a big fan of Scott Parsons. His shortcomings were exposed in the senate race last year. But Scott is Abe Lincoln compared to these 2 nincompoops!
Parsons will prevail.

Anonymous said...

8:38 you are right

Anonymous said...

anon 3:18, dream on Scotty!

Matt Miles said...

I'm sorry, but what does being Pro-Life have to do with being a council member? Tell me what leadership skills you bring to the table. Tell me your vision for the county. Don't tell me your preferences on abortion. By the way, I feel that way about both parties for municipal elections.

Anonymous said...


You describe Cusick as a "LU." What does LU stand for?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Sorry. He is a LU grad. I neglected to include that word and have updated my post.