|Englesson at Campaign function|
This seat was held for many years by Elizabeth Romig, sister of former NorCo Executive Gerald R."Jerry" Seyfried. When she stepped down, her daughter, Patrica Romig-Passaro, was easily elected. Unfortunately, Judge Romig-Passaro was forced to resign for reasons of health. One of the candidates, Constable Jon Whittington, is her husband.
|Jon Whittington at Elections office|
On March 13, Allentown attorney Ron Clever filed an objection on behalf of the Whittington camp, seeking to have Englesson's nomination petition stricken. Clever raised most of the usual complaints about bad signatures, bad addresses, unregistered voters or voters from another party. But he also claimed that Englesson had improperly named himself as the circulator when his signatures were in fact obtained by five other persons who failed to sign the required affidavit. He subpoenaed the actual circulators.
At the hearing, Englesson was represented by Bethlehem Attorney Vic Scomillio, who had just one day to prepare.
Englesson explained in court that he had about three weeks to complete the"very difficult and arduous" task of getting 100 good signatures from Democrats and Republicans each. He enlisted five volunteers and provided each with a nametag, a street list of his district, a clipboard and a set of instructions for circulators. He picked up the petitions after a few days and kept them at his home and office. When going out himself, he usually grabbed the petition with the least amount of signatures. He admitted he would take petitions that had been started by someone else and complete the task himself. "There was nothing nefarious about it," he told Judge Dally at least three times. "There was no intent to deceive anybody. Nobody was harmed by it and I had nothing to gain by it."
When pressed on whether he had filed false affidavits, Englesson responded that he had told the truth as he believed it. "I have been a public servant for most of my career, but I not a politician."
When Clever reminded Englesson that he has run fo public office before, Englesson agreed. "I have. ... A long time ago."
Clever suggested at one point that Englesson and his volunteers got together and decided what to say, but Judge Dally stopped him. "I'm not going to allow you to make an accusation like that in court," Judge Dally warned Clever.
In a brilliant move in a case that was well-tried by both attorneys, Vic Scomillio had each of the actual circulators file affidavits indicating what signatures they had obtained.One of them, Kim Plyler, was able to remember where she had stopped because it was a neighbor who lived across the street from her. Clever objected that it was too late to submit amended affidavits, and the two lawyers engaged in a war of citations before Judge Dally.
Testimony went on until after 5 PM Friday afternoon. Judge Dally advised both lawyers he would give them both an opportunity to brief him on the topic, and that he would issue a ruling on Tuesday.
Clever told Judge Dally that he is under no obligation to issue an immediate ruling because judges can pretty much do whatever they want.
"Do you have that citation?" joked Judge Dally.