Friday, April 10, 2015
Republicans To Host Candidates' Night at NCC
Though only Republican candidates will be heard, everyone is welcome to attend. This is in stark contrast from similar Democrat candidate nights, in which even the audience is limited to committee members.
One reason for this refreshing transparency is the number of races in Bethlehem Township. In the words of GOP Vice Chair Lee Snover,
"Election excitement is in the air especially in Bethlehem Township. With an unprecedented 8 Republicans running for 3 commissioner positions in the township, this forum will help the voters chose those who truly represent their own views. The forum will include the Bethlehem Township Commissioner races and Northampton County Council Districts 3 and 4.
"The Bethlehem Township candidates for commissioner will have a question and answer session followed by a question and answer session for the contested county council candidates in District 3 and District 4."
"We will also have the Republican Candidate for the Court of Common Pleas, Victor Scomillo, there to address the voters. Please remember this event is limited to candidates who are registered Republicans as this is a primary election event. This is not the forum for cross-filed candidates who are not registered Republicans.
"The mission of the NCRC is to consistently work toward good government for all by promoting the principles of the Republican Party, encouraging open communication with the voters, and encouraging, training, and helping Republican candidates get elected."
As I observed in a post earlier this month, Bethlehem Township is tea party central. Already a Republican stronghold, there is a concentration of tea party members in the first ward. For the most part, these are very decent and likable people. But a small segment, who call themselves RATs (Republican Action Team), are more intent on accumulating power for themselves than in espousing Republican values. They will support Democrats over Republicans who fail their strange loyalty tests.
Some of these RATs hate judicial candidate Vic Scomilio. This is not because of his ties to an ineffectual County Exec like John Brown, which is what troubles most Democrats. They detest Vic because he worked hard to get Jennifer Sletvold, another Republican, elected judge. You see, she was opposed in her primary by RAT Tom Carroll. So Carroll and fellow RATs like Ronnie del Wacko and Tony Simao jumped on the Abe Kassis bandwagon and Carroll even circulated for Abe. This has nothing to do with principle. It has everything to do with power and vindictiveness.
Tom Nolan, an engineer at Lehigh Heavy Forge, has two Republican opponents. One of them is former Commissioner Art Murphy, who works for Selvaggio and Son. The other, Wayne Buller, is definitely a tea party and RAT favorite. Regulars like Ben Hedrick, Andy Azan and Melissa Miller (significant other of NorCo Council member Seth Vaughn) are behind this campaign. Buller works in waste water treatment, so he knows all about shit. Nolan is well known and respected in his ward, but I worry that Art Murphy will siphon off votes that would otherwise go to Nolan, leaving the door wide open for Buller. Is Buller tea party or RAT? I don't know.
Phil Barnard, Manager at Bay Insulation, has been a moderating influence on the Board. Well-spoken and thoughtful, he really listens to residents and tries very hard to be transparent. He's precisely the kind of guy who Republicans should be embracing and grooming for higher office. I could see him as County Executive or in the State Senate.
Phil two opponents, Republican Fran Blatz and Democrat Kim Jenkins. Blatz, whom I believe to be the tea-party candidate, is listed as the Pro-life leader at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Jenkins is the Secretary of the Bethlehem Township Athletic Association, which Barnard has steadfastly supported during his four years as a Commissioner. .
This morning, someone anonymously taunted incumbent Commish Marty Zawarski, whio's seeking re-election. "Rumor has it that Commish Z is looking down every possible alley for votes. He must be worried." He is, and has every reason to be worried. He is facing challenge by two Republicans, both former Commissioners. They include Paul Weiss and the tea party sponsored candidate, Bob Birk.
To his credit, Zawarski is running hard. That, or unopposed, is the only way to go. Birk, whose ethics statement lists his occupation as "unemployed," obviously has lots of time on his hands to knock on doors. So Zawarski is knocking on doors, too, and has sent out a flier.
As with Nolan, my concern is that paul Weiss is going to take away just enough votes from Zawarski to ensure that Birk wins.
What happens if the RAT coup succeeds?
Several things. You can look to an end to any financial contributions to the Township's athletic organizations. They would look for ways to limit any contribution to the volunteer firefighters. I would expect them to flush the idea of Bulldog bathrooms. Though two union contracts are locked up until 2017, I would expect them to oppose any further wage hikes, especially for nonunion employees. They would likely seek to replace the Solicitor, Manager and Engineer.
There's a RAT or tea party dude running in one of the County Council races, too.
Matt Dietz, a Hayden Phillips protege, is a RAT favorite who just ran for Congress. He is is squaring off against Glenn Geissinger protege Lorin Bradley in the northern tier and slate belt.
There's a contested County Council race in Bethlehem Township, too. John Cusick is attempting a comeback, but Mickey Thompson wants that job.
It would be an ideal night for me. But I'll be covering County Council. There is a lot going on there, too.