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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Monday, March 07, 2016

Norberto Dominguez: Why I Withdrew in State House Race

From Norberto Dominguez: I am a man of my word. I was raised that way by my father—a steelworker and union man at Allentown’s Gulf Western for 38 years, who worked hard to provide for his family—and my mother a seamstress. Immigrants from the Dominican Republic, I was blessed to learn from them the key lessons of love, honor and compassion rooted in the idea that everyone deserves respect, and that leadership requires fairness, wisdom and humility.

For over 25 years, I’ve dedicated myself to working hard for my community and the 22nd district, instilling that same standard in the hearts and minds of every person I’ve engaged, during my time as the director of HALA (Hispanic American League of Artists) and as a Jordan Heights Neighborhood Manager for CACLV.

I’ve had the honor of working with great community leaders from Jesus Ramos (who recently passed) to teens ready to change their community for the better. There are great people in the 22nd, many that remind me of my parents. The people of the 22nd district that I’ve come to know over time are not power hungry. They are not privileged. They work hard to make their lives and their children’s lives better.

Believing that Peter Schweyer was a principled man, a man of good will, a man committed to democracy and the will of the people, a man like my father, I made a promise to him early on that if I decided to run for his seat, I would tell him face to face. And I did. Before shaking his hand that day, I relayed to him that I hoped we would run this race with honor and with respect and Schweyer concurred.

Little did I know, that all bets would be off once petition season ended. On February 24th, the day after the deadline to file a challenge, I received an email from the law office of Adam C. Bonin notifying me that Peter Schweyer had challenged my petitions. Three days later, I was served by Schweyer’s law firm. March 1st, I received a letter from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania compelling me to face Schweyer in court on the 14th. Given the fact that I had to resign my position from CACLV in order to run, due to the Hatch Act, I was in no position to hire my own lawyer and fight this challenge.

On March 2nd, I officially withdrew my name from the ballot. Before I arrived home, it was already listed on the state website. Three days later, I received another letter (postmarked March 3) from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania notifying me that Peter Schweyer had withdrawn his petition challenge. I can only hazard a guess that the blowback he’d received on the Lehigh Valley Ramblings blog sent him running for cover and that he hoped that by withdrawing no one would notice how he had chosen to undercut the democratic process itself. I gather having a Latino opponent in a predominantly Latino district was not his preference. Yet he was all too happy to use a Latino to sign his challenge.

Clearly Peter Schweyer was more interested in this election being decided prior to the people of the 22nd district ever having an opportunity to cast a single ballot. He was supported in doing his dirty work by Nestor Tatis, Representative to the Executive Board of the Allentown City Democratic Committee, a fellow Dominican.

I am a wiser man today than I was that day I shook Peter Schweyer’s hand and committed to running a respectful race for the support of the people of the 22nd district. This district was created to represent the large Latino population living within its borders. Yet, Schweyer, a member of the disgraced mayor’s inner circle, and the Democratic Committee, has done very little for the Latino residents here.

It is with deep sadness that I note that, both at a city and a county level, the Democratic Party in this town seems mired in maintaining the same folks at the top that have always been at the top. They are no different than the Republican Party. Their actions, in this case, speak louder than their talking points.

You’d think they’d have learned something in the past seven months about subverting democracy from watching the long shadow cast across City Hall by the ongoing FBI investigation on corruption.

On March 2nd, I officially withdrew from this race. Today, I’ve resigned my position as a committeeperson of the Allentown City Democratic Committee. I cannot stand with a party committed to taking away the ability of the people of this district to weigh in on who represents their best interests in Harrisburg.

I remain a man of my word. I continue to believe in my father’s lessons, that fairness, wisdom and humility, are a requirement, of good leadership. Unfortunately, it seems Peter Schweyer does not.


Anonymous said...

Let's have a 'write-in' campaign and let the chips fall where they may.

michael molovinsky said...

norberto, i'm no fan of the allentown machine to which you refer, but seek clarification on your petition. if your signatures or other nomination requirements were in fact deficient, i'm troubled by an insinuation of racism and/or foul play. as a watchdog of local government, i look forward to some clarification on the actual basis of the petition challenge, by either you, schweyer or both. in the meantime, i'm sorry that your effort and sacrifice to be on the ballot was short circuited by one factor or another. i for one appreciate your guest post here, and bernie for printing it. michael molovinsky

Dennis R. Lieb said...


Congratulations on your decision to abandon politics-as-usual in the Lehigh Valley. You are a better person for it as well as a bit more "educated" on our corrupt system. I have great empathy for any upstanding citizen that tries to effect change in our neighborhoods. I know what you went through. As a citizen of Easton's West Ward, I also ran for city council against Mike Fleck...a horrible experience to say the least and one that also led me to allow my position as a representative of the Easton Democratic Committee to expire.

If I may humbly offer one word of advice to you it would be to renege your party affiliation from both Democratic and Republican identification and simply become an independent thinking citizen that does what is right for yourself, your neighbors and your city and refuses to play the game of politics. Those that don't remain part of the problem.

Good luck in all future endeavors.


Anonymous said...

I am sorry this is how you feel, but this is a simple requirement to have a certain number of registered democratic signatures on your filing, Did you not know this? I am surprised that the democratic party did not help you with this. Did you have the correct number of registered democratic signatures?. Competing candidates always check to see if the opposition has complied. Your election may have been challenged if you did not.

Anonymous said...

Norberto, so sorry to hear of your situation. It is disheartening to hear of how the establishment tries to hold people down. I can only tell you they will use any trick in the book to hold on to power for theirs own. This is not really a racial or ethnic issue, or even one of political party but one of power. Michael makes many valid points. Many people of all stripe have n=been held down by the power brokers.

I was no sure if you already resigned your position with CACLV or would have due to the Hatch act. Pleas have someone knowledgeable look into that. Much like petition challenges the "HATCH ACT" has been used to keep some people out of races over the years. The power players have ignored it for some people and used it against others. It is only a factor if someone reports it to the federal government, this has not always been the case depending on the person.. Also it has been amended as well. As to you employer Alan Jennings, the champion of the poor, he himself violated Northampton County law to hire a county cabinet member to an executive position expressly prohibited by county law. The county executive and legislative branch cavalierly "waived" the law in order to allow this insider hack to get his illegal job. You probably know who that is as well. So CACLV is no friend to the average person without connections and has its own warts as well.

So in summation, please double check with all sources before taking anyone's word on what you can and cannot do. The insiders have been playing with peoples lives for decades. You are not the first but you can make a difference.

Best of Luck!

Robert Trotner said...

Norberto, I hope to meet you in person someday. Having seen more than I ever want to see of dirty politics in Allentown in the past year, I feel for you and wish you the best. Should you want to run again, I'll be first in line to help you.

Anonymous said...

"They are no different than the Republican Party."

Really? Living in Allentown, have you ever actually seen a Republican? Or are you just repeating well worn talking points. You'd likely be welcomed by the Republican Party, which is growing steadily each day. Why not give it a try? I'd vote for you.

Dennis P said...

I met Norberto when he was seeking signatures in 14-2 on Filbert Street when I was in the area delivering the EARN Frontier ... I wished him well as I could not sign his petition due to the fact that I live in 15-1 which is in the 32nd district not the 22nd ... I live a block from the 22nd which starts at Irving Street next to the former Irving Street Park ... In an earlier era 14-2 and 15-1 were linked together in the 33rd district ... As a candidate I won both precincts against the competition of Brennan, Rybak and Rosado but elsewhere they beat me ... I had only 307 signatures but they all were good ... And these 307 signatures were not challenged ... Any signature that was bad I crossed out before I filed by checking the then current voters list....

Dennis P said...

P.S... The districts should be the 132nd and the 133rd

Anonymous said...

Norberto, Lesson #1: Politics isn't bean bag. Lesson #2: Repeat lesson #1.

Dennis P said...

PSS --- Who was that man I seen on E. Highland Street that stopped 4 times and took notes or sent a message on his I-pad as I delivered the EARN Frontier in the Manor Area ... Perhaps he was an operative for someone ... He did look familiar ... I think the man became a aware that after the 2nd stop I took a long look at him at the 3rd and 4th stop ... After the 4th stop he took a right turn ... As I said I was not delivering a political message for or against any party ... I was just delivering my newsletter ... I don't suppose that anyone is nervous about my deliveries ... But maybe they are or just curious.

Anonymous said...

Pawlowski + Schlossberg + Schweyer = #ASSHOLES

Anonymous said...

The instructions are very clear as to what is required and who constitutes a person who can properly sign his petition. But as is so common today instead of admitting his mistake he chooses to blame it on someone else. I know Bernie thinks that the voters should have their say instead of the judges but if you can't follow simple instructions then you are probably too dumb to hold the office

Matt Miles said...

This is why we need an open primary ballot in this state.

Cleveland said...

Dirty pool. Sorry to hear this, Norberto.

Anonymous said...

"There is no difference from the Republican Party" ? The Allentown Republican Committee would have made sure he was on the ballot. Anyone who shares the vision of reduced central authority and individual liberty and responsibility is welcome. We are a party united on belief not opportunity or exploitation.

Scott Armstrong

George Ruth said...

Let us NOT go to an open primary system. A political party is an organization of mostly like-minded people, so only those 'members' should vote for their candidates. Too much mischief comes from a primary when members of the 'other' party plays games.

Anonymous said...

I say this as a senior citizen lifetime Dem....wake up and smell the fucking coffee.
Peter, nor the party insiders give two shits about you or the rank and file people of the district.

I hope CACLV doesn't take you back.
You will be much better without the major toad Jennings.

alfonso todd said...

I'm sorry, but it's called POLITICS. No one forced anyone to quit their job, place their name on a ballot, and jump into a life of public scrutiny. WE all CHOSE to do this with hopes and dreams of helping the community, improving Pennsylvania, and stepping up in life.... My signatures were challenged when I ran for City Council and I knew, after just living here for 5 years Allentown positions were nothing to play around with. If I needed 200 signatures, I got 600. If I needed information about where the voters were, I sought out the people who could give me the maps. And if I needed volunteers and support, I inquired and found those willing to assist me. In the end, I STILL lost but I learned a valuable lesson as I am sure Norberto has. No one HAS to run a fair race or any race at all. Peter Schweyer has to feed his family just as much as Norberto has to feed his and he did what ever he had to do to retain his position. In fact, he did what people have done every election cycle but no one actually blamed racism or dishonor. It basically is how "the game" is played, for better or worse. In the end, I hope Norberto moves forward and remembers /uses this experience to build as I have. Also, please remember, "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger."

- Alfonso Todd

Anonymous said...

Feed his family my ass.
The guy's a hack in the mold of his creator that compromised piece of shit Mann.

Anonymous said...

One dope and one crook = no representation for the people.

Anonymous said...

Michael M exposed the BS about the "generous" Republican Party. Scott, sell your BS elsewhere, you are as bad as the Democrat fanatics.

Anonymous said...

Scott has a finely honed political mind, what a shame he can only bring himself to apply half of it.

Anonymous said...

You are Hatched, you are not allowed to run even a write in campaign. It's kind of simple, you screwed up and didn't find out if your job would allow you to legally run. If I were schweyer I would have challenged you also, it's the law but I guess we should forget the law because your Hispanic ?

Anonymous said...

Norberto, south side Allentown needs a Latino to represent it in Harrisburg. Schweyer does very little to help city residents. He stood silent as the south side library shuttered its doors for 10 years and now is bricked and forever gone.
Is he working on a new library? Ask him. Actually, all parents of the south side should be at his office door to ask him! Do you have any idea how difficult it is to travel to the Hamilton at 12 Street facility from Emmaus and S. Law? A library affords a quiet place to study and learn and receive much-needed tutoring. Help your neighbors by spear-heading a fund drive for a new library and you will win next time around for sure.

Anonymous said...

If a candidate can't properly prepare petitions, how will he or she honorably and intelligently served constituents? You did not do your homework.

Anonymous said...

Insults are used when the truth won't suffice. Keep up the good work Democrats. Demonstrate for all to see your true nature. It isn't pretty, or altruistic.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:17

Michael M did not expose anything other than your shallow understanding. First, the Lehigh County Republican Committee makes an effort to stay out of contested primaries at the local level absent an endorsement. There was none in this case, so Michael M had no reason to expect help from the Committee. He would have known that had he made any effort at all over the past decade to attend any events or have any interaction with the Committee. Second, Michael M's complaints that he received no response after posting a blog and on Facebook is sour grapes after the fact. Michael M made almost no effort to get to know members of the Committee so he could ask them by phone or in person for their help. You can't be an independent and then a nominal, non-participating Republican and then expect Committee people (who do not know Michael M)to leap at the opportunity to help in a contested primary. That makes one would how much cheese Michael has to go with that whine and confirms how ineffective he would have been in Harrisburg should he have been successful in getting elected.

Anonymous said...

The question remains: What was the defect complained of in Schweyer's Objection? And was it valid? My guess is Norberto had a fatal error in his Petitions, and that is the real reason for his withdraw.

If you want to be taken seriously, then you must follow the law with regard to your petitions. How do you expect to be elected to a position to make the laws if you can't follow the law?

Bernie O'Hare said...

8:56, This post is about Norberto's race, not Michael's abbreviated run. I am sure he would have something to say about this, but called him a few days ago in my last Norberto post and asked him not to do so. It is too confusing. I would prefer to keep this thread about Norberto's race. If MM feels compelled to respond, I will allow it, but his will be the last comment entertained about his race in this thread. It gets too confusing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"The question remains: What was the defect complained of in Schweyer's Objection? And was it valid? My guess is Norberto had a fatal error in his Petitions, and that is the real reason for his withdraw. "

That may or may bot be the case. If you read Norberto's statement, he lacked the resources to afford an attorney who could tell him whether the claim was valid. Though I am predisposed to believing that voters should make these calls, and not judges, i agree that blatant violations cannot be permitted.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, although i will not directly address comment 8:56 ( which really requires restrain on my part) i do note that on another post, concerning another potential candidate, you stated that candidates should err on the side of every precaution with their petitions, anticipating a challenge. however, the theme of this post, and your previous lead in post, is that judges should not decide. in this regard, you seem to differentiate with a minority candidate in the "latino district", and your general advise, just a few days ago.

Anonymous said...

A valid point about affording and attorney, which leads me to ask: What would happen if he responded without an attorney? Jail time? How harsh are the penalties that would prevent Norberto from just "winging it" in court? The scary part of this story is how a person will fold on just the mention of lawyers and court which keep the elite in power.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It is a very good idea to have an attorney for something like this. Though I doubt very much that anything untoward would happen to him, and most judges would treat him with respect, a judge cannot argue his case for him. Also, even if it is a valid challenge, the smallest defect in the challenge would result in it getting bounced. If he has no attorney, he will not see those defects.

Bernie O'Hare said...

MM @10:16, I'm not sure what point you are trying to make. My overall view is that voters should decide elections, not judges. That is a sentiment that is incidentally shared by judges. There is a strong public policy in favor of supporting the right to vote, and resolving ambiguities in favor of that public policy. In this case, I add that there is also systemic racism or classism. The whole system is set up to favor incumbents, who are generally white and have resources. The system is set up to make things difficult for those who lack resources. Having said that, I'd agree that challenges pointing to blatant election code violations have to be upheld. For example, if the majority of those signing Norberto's petition are not registered voters who live in the district, they can't be counted. But let's say a signature is unclear or the date is wrong. Those mistakes can be fixed. But a candidate may not know that and might be intimidated into withdrawing, especially as he starts getting certified letters and five-page court orders.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, you are never sure what the point is when someone points out a inconsistency in your viewpoints. both you and dominguez do a disservice to schweyer with insinuations of racism. as someone pointed out before, as a former employee of CACLV, he certainly had potential access to legal advice. schweyer shook his hand for a fair election, but that does not include accepting a deficient petition.

Chris Casey said...

For a moment, let us remove ethnicity from the equation.

A candidate puts forth 360+ signatures for a candidacy where 300 are required. Of those submitted, more than 150+ have deficiencies, ranging from being illegible to the person that signed it listing an address OUTSIDE the district boundaries, or the signee not even being a registered voters. In a best case scenario, a judge lets maybe half of the signatures in, giving the candidate between 280 to 290 good signatures, but short of the 300 required by law.

What is a judge to do? Follow the law. I am sorry that Norberto is not on the ballot, because I believe variety of choice is good for Democracy. But the failure is on Norberto for not paying attention to details. I am seriously considering starting an independent candidate assistance organization to help citizens get on the ballot. After the primary I will likely change my registration to Independent and start advising citizens. I want to be non partisan and help anyone who asks. It is a needed service, and I will keep the cost for this service as minimal as possible.

Dennis P said...

In order to file a petition to set aside a nomination petition a person must:

(1) be registered to vote in the district holding the primary election; and
(2) be a member of the political party to which the Nomination Petition

The Rules of Civil and Appellate Procedure are not applicable to a challenge to a
Nomination Petition or paper.

The petition to set aside a nomination petition must be specific enough to give
notice to the candidate of the errors claimed so that the candidate is in a position to present a defense. Failure to give specific page, line number and reason for challenge to a particular signature shall be a fatal defect to the challenge.

Most challenges to nomination petitions focus on the validity of signatures on the

When challenging signatures the most common challenges to a signature on a
petition are:

(1) The elector improperly used ditto marks.
(2) Elector not registered to vote
(3) Elector not registered to vote at the address listed on the petition
(4) Elector signed more petitions than allowed by law
(5) Elector not a qualified elector of the appropriate political party
(6) Signatures and other information on the petition are not sufficiently legible so
as to verify the registration
(7) Duplicate signatures – elector signed the same petition multiple times
(8) The handwriting does not match the signature on the official registration
(9) Petition was signed outside the permissible time limits for circulating petitions
(10) The signature is missing other required information such as printed name,
address or date of signing.
(11) The elector did not sign his/her name

Please note this list is not an extensive list of all appropriate challenges that may be made to signatures contained on a nomination petition.

In addition to challenges to signatures a nomination petition may also be
challenged for the following reason:
(1) The circulator’s affidavit is defective
(2) The candidate’s affidavit is defective
(3) Challenge to candidate’s Statement of Financial Interest

Note the Petition challenge must outline specific reasons why the affidavits and/or
Statement of Financial Interest is defective.

The above listing is not an exhaustive list of all appropriate challenges that may
be made to a nomination petition.

Individuals who wish to file a petition to set aside a Nomination Paper must
follow legal requirements found at 25 P.S. § 2937

The procedure for filing a challenge to Nomination Papers is similar to the
procedures outlined above for Nomination Petitions. The following important
distinctions are emphasized:
(1) A candidate filing nomination papers must swear or affirm that “he
was not a candidate by nomination petition for any public office to be voted for at the ensuing primary, nor has he been nominated by any other nomination papers filed for any such office. In addition the candidate must swear or affirm that he was not a registered or enrolled member of a party 30 days before the primary.
(2) Nomination Papers may be signed by members of any party as well as
registered non-partisans.
(3) A challenge to nomination papers may be made by any registered
elector of the district.

Anonymous said...

I thought personal attacks were outlawed, BO?

Oh, wait, Armstrong is a Republican so I guess that makes it okay.

Carry on, then.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Learn how to read. Anonymous personal attacks like those coming from you are forbidden. A person who identifies himself and accepts responsibility for his words, as Scott Armstrong always does, can get as personal as he wants.

Anonymous said...

Bernie and MM,
I will get personal as allentown circus sideshow bearded cigar smoking fatlady of years past presently ReSides in bedlum artificially inceminated by boytoy darthvader for the fruedian slipp¿!)$ Than since MM obviously has come into the original circus location with his agenda driven cause, we shall go familia ties on him¿!)$ My mazaradi does 185 I lost my lisence and now I don't drive because its on the city I thrive¿!)$ Ouch, yet another circus fruedian slipp LVHN formally the great allentown hospital circus, ReLocated hamilton herion hanna herpie hook up poolside with mommas secret cigar surpriZe twiZtZ¿!)$
BoilZ in the rectum one and all, hideyhoe is due for ReVue in the nue nue nue cistern of the nation by design of those takeing advantage of the disadvataged¿!)$
Now go in peace and serve the dark underlords in the bowells of allentown neglected infastructure with your fellow parishinors of church on the run by design¿!)$
Redd for registered Republican
patent pending

Anonymous said...

So if a candidate or circulator fails to complete the header information such as year or office being sought on a nomination petition, is that a fatal defect? Seems like the process is very prescribed. I presume the same is for the affidavit?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Many defects can be cured, but failure to include the office being sought is bad. I would seek legal advice before even starting a race.

Anonymous said...

Anyone seeking office should also probably seek at least some psychiatric advice. Unfortunately most defects causing them to seek office probably cannot be cured.