|A thorn between two roses. Muller is flanked by his|
beautiful wife and daughter, MJ (left) and Joy (right).
MJ is a volunteer with St. Thomas More, while
Joy is a standout field hockey player.
He also introduced several Commissioner candidates running for District seats this year. In District One, it's Robert Elbich. He's a LU grad, after which he worked for Air Products and a cryogenics firm, and then launched two companies of his own based on patents that he secured. .He lives in Weisenberg Tp, where he serves on the Zoning Hearing Board. In District
Noting that Democrats have a 31,000 voter edge in Lehigh, Muller said they gave both presidential and statewide candidates a clean sweep in the 2016 election. "It's time to bring that same broom to the Board of Commissioners," said Muller, referring to the nine persons who make up the county's legislative branch.
Muller said he's fortunate to have had his wife at his side for the past 30 years. After 40 years in the private sector, he never expected to serve as Director of Administration for another eight years for Don Cunningham and two interim county executives. He also had no idea he'd become a "full-fledged politician" and serve for four years as Executive. "The politics of the other side opened this door for me," he said. He enjoyed those four years "despite the political battling, the 30% pay cut, the frequent nights out, and the part I love, the endless chicken dinners."
In his four years as Executive, Muller tried to be accessible and get as much first hand knowledge from citizens as he could. He attended 20 municipal meetings a year, travelling to as many different communities as he could.
"Public safety is our top priority. Hamilton Crossings with a Costco is a reality. The County is significantly recommitted to farmland preservation. Good Shepherd is finally managing our Cedarbrook Nursing Home.Most of these accomplishments required overcoming the objections of a substantial block on the Board of Commissioners.
"We've also balanced the budget without tax increases despite the veto-proof Republican majority on the Board insisting on providing those "Happy Meal" tax cuts on the taxpayer's credit card. They did it just to adhere to what they thought was a campaign promise they made, but it was on the taxpayer's credit card because we had a budget deficit each time.
"As great as this chapter of my life has been and continues to be, it will come to an end this year, and I know this will come as a surprise to most of you."
Muller explained why he's decided to bow out. He has three sons in the Carolinas. He has two grandsons there "who I see too infrequently." When his daughter Joy graduates from Emmaus High School in 2019, he knows she will want to attend college outside of this area. "MJ and I then intend to close the Lehigh Valley section of our book and head south into retirement."
He's been encouraged to run anyway and then resign when he's ready to retire."I cannot in good conscience do that.What that would mean is going out and collecting contributions and collecting votes from people who think I'm running for four years, and I cannot serve for four years. I personally cannot do that."
Muller said he was unwilling to leave without finding someone who will represent the people as opposed to the "whims of a few wealthy contributors."
That someone is Phillips Armstrong, who was chairing a Whitehall Township meeting as Muller spoke, attempting to persuade his colleagues to adopt a resolution in support of gerrymander reform. Armstrong is a retired teacher and coach who ran unsuccessfully against Zach Mako for the state house. I thought then he was the best Democrat running in the Lehigh Valley.
Armstrong was also working on a proposal to impose campaign contribution limits on township candidates Muller said that Commissioner Geoff Brace is working on a similar resolution in Lehigh,"which will probably be blocked by our Republican majority for painfully obvious reasons."
Muller said by not running, he can focus on Cedarbrook, which he claimed Commissioners have been kicking down the road for about three years. he said JB Reilly started digging a hole for the arena around the same time he started pushing Commissioners to do something about the Cedarbrook building.
Muller never strayed from the Way. He is giving up his public life but is keeping his honor. His absence will be keenly felt.
Blogger's Note: Originally published 2/13/17 at 8:36 pm
Updated 10:30 am: A reader points out that Nick Englesson, who at that time was a resident of West Bethlehem, served as a Lehigh County Commissioner.
Updated 4:12: I incorrectly stated one candidate is running in District Two when she is actually running in District Three.