Monday, February 13, 2017
Desert Storm, Desert Shield Marine To Seek BT Comm'r Slot
John Merhottein is a Marine who served his country during Desert Storm and Desert Shield. He then became a computer programmer, loss prevention manager and project manager. He married, has a family and has live in Bethlehem Township for the past ten years. Now he would like to be a Commissioner representing the fourth word. That ward is currently represented by Pat Breslin, who has apparently decided to call it quits after one term.
John is a Member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and an elected Northampton County Republican Committee member.
His campaign will focus on the following issues that include fiscal conservatism, government transparency, the inclusion of public input on all matters, expenses cut when and where possible, as well as insisting the Bethlehem Area Library increase its services to the township.
On his webpage, he gives a pretty good explanation of what prompted him to run.
"When I heard our taxes were going to go up 37% in 2016, I thought I should go to the budget meetings and find out why. It was interesting to see what budget items residents supported and the ones they were against.
"I wanted to continue to go to the Board of Commissioners meetings, so I had an understanding of what was going on in our township. I found myself enjoying the workings of the township & I liked sharing that information with my neighbors.
"In July of 2016, the Board was presented with a vote to repair the community center for 2.7 million dollars. How could this be? A 10-year-old building that needed almost 3 million dollars of repairs? I wanted answers! I asked my questions to the board and didn't get my answers. Needless to say, I was upset leaving that meeting.
"The more I thought about it and realized that screaming at the board wasn't going to be very productive, and I thought 'What could I do to make a difference?' Thinking about the passionate debate during both the budget and community center meetings, I reached out to Commissioner Malissa Davis with an idea. Could we break down the budget and community center statistics into snapshots? Could we see the number of people that used the community center and library? Anything that a resident wanted, could we get is added to a dashboard? During my first meeting with Commissioner Davis, she asked Melissa Shafer the township Manager to join us. I could not believe how open to suggestions they were. Thanks to Melissa and her staff, the first dashboard was published in October of 2016. It is a work in progress and one I will continue to help grow.
"My goal with the dashboard was to get the information in the hands of the residents and Commissioners, so they could see where their tax dollars and township resources were being spent and as a township have an intelligent discussion.
"Transparency in government is great for the residents and the Board. It allows them and us to make informed decisions. Hopefully, the dashboard will mature into something that has everything a resident could want. I would be honored to take the lead and have a transparent Bethlehem Township. My first task would be to keep working on that dashboard and get the facts and figures to the township residents, Commissioners and township employees.
"Attending the Commissioners meetings has also enlightened me to other issues in the township such as storm water, traffic, and development.
"I have no special interests. I will always put residents concerns first. I will be accessible via email, Facebook, my website, phone or in person. If you have a question, concern or problem, I promise to get you an answer as soon as possible.
"I'm not a politician. I'm like the majority of you, a guy with a family who plans to live in the township for a significant number of years. I love our town and my neighborhood and want it to be the best it could be."