Conservative or Liberal, Deist or Pagan, Jersey transplant or Lehigh Valley native, we're all in this mess together. Let's talk. Let us do no harm. Today's one-liner: "The shortest way to the distinguishing excellence of any writer is through his hostile critics." Richard LeGallienne
Jones Mayoral Bid: "Building an Arena Cannot Save a City"
David Jones running for Mayor
When Lehigh County Comm'r David Jones announced his Allentown Mayoral plans yesterday outside of City Hall, he had company. Sure, about 20 friends and family members were on hand, but that's to be expected. Also just a few feet away was none other than Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski. He was singing along in a few raga chaturangs, of all things, with a second crowd of about 50 people who were celebrating Indian Independence Day. Ravi Shankar, he ain't. He kept glancing over at Jones and I said, "Why don't you take a picture? It will last longer." So he did! But he was pretending to be interested in Indian heritage, so he was snapping pics of the ceremony, which seemed to involve every single one of that country's 1.25 billion people.
Pawlowski was really looking forward to saying a few words, but they kept passing him over. They must have heard about his power points. Even the police chief was called before Fed Ed.
In addition to Fed Ed, three Republicans came to watch Dave's announcement. Lehigh County GOP Mentat Dean Browning was there, along with Controller Glenn Eckhart (not exactly a Mentat) and Comm'r Mike Schware (thinks he's a mentat). "We're here to observe," explained Browning.
Instead of being frazzled by these distractions, Jones charged forward. He ignored Pawlowski and invited the GOP to join him. "There's room for Republicans," he joked.
Jones is a preacher. He's a Pastor at New Vision Church, but is an Old Time Religion speaker used to pausing for an occasional "Amen." But instead of that, he got periodic applause.
"I'm running on behalf of those who heard the words and promises of progress, but haven't felt that progress in their own lives or in the parts of the city that they live in. I'm ready to fight to prove that progress includes every person in the City of Allentown. I'm running because the trust and confidence that city government works for everyone equally, has been broken, and our city desperately needs healing. I'm running because I believe that the cloud that has hovered over the City must be lifted, and the need for open, honest, transparent leadership has never been greater. I'm running because this is a crucial time in the City of Allentown."
While Fed Ed was a few feet away, looking for a tabla so he could demonstrate his percussion proficiency, Jones said that Allentown should build on all of its assets instead of looking for "silver bullet" solutions. Jones said that Allentown needs to improve all of its neighborhoods, "not just certain select areas."
"My principles are simple: integrity, honesty, transparency and collaboration with the people of Allentown."
Unlike Chicago transplant Fed Ed, Jones pointed out that he grew up on nearby Penn St and is a proud Dieruff Huskie. He grew up in the Cumberland Gardens Projects. That's where he met Karen, his wife of 31 years. Together, they raised five children.
"Allentown is my home," he flatly said.
In the meantime, Fed Ed pulled out a sitar and started plucking away.
These girls were all wired.
In addition to being a clergyman, Jones has over 20 years of experience in the private and nonprofit sector. As a veteran Lehigh County Commissioner with ten years of experience, he pointed out that he deals with $400 million budgets, which is four times the size of Allentown's. He noted Lehigh County maintains a $25 million cash reserve along with a pension fund that is nearly fully funded.
Much of the reason for that is Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller. The rest would be the Republicans who were watching Jones.
He acknowledged this partnership of Democrats and Republicans, too.
"I've been a uniter, working across the aisle, Democrats and Republicans, to facilitate good, sensible government by bringing balanced solutions to the county's challenges."
Jones said the first thing he'd do as Mayor is commission a forensic audit. He added that he would focus on "the heart of the City. Building an arena cannot save a city. A city is its people. Her people make up the heartbeat and thriving pulse of the city."
After his announcement, Jones called on Fed Ed to resign.
"In my three campaigns, I have never received a formal endorsement from the Mayor, nor one campaign contribution. ... I have been standing on my own."
I wanted to stay and sell one of old cell phones to Fed Ed, but it was awful hot and he was busy patting down a woman in a sari, convinced that she was wired.
"I know there's a wire in there somewhere," he muttered.