Thursday, March 09, 2017
Who's Running This Year in Lehigh County?
I'm glad I spent the time I did paying attention. Unfortunately, neither of the daily papers listed all the races up for grabs, something that at one time was standard fare. For now, this is the only place where you can find details on every NorCo race.
Because I was so focused on the NorCo races, I had no opportunity to see what is happening in Lehigh County. But Voting Registrar Tim Benyo has uploaded a list of all candidates. So thankfully, there is no need to burn the midnight oil in making this information available to you. You already have access to it.
Lehigh County races.- In the Lehigh County Executive race, Whitehall Comm'r Phillips Armstrong is the sole Democratic candidate. He stepped forward when Tom Muller decided against a second term. He will face the winner of a Republican primary between Comm'r Brad Osborne and Controller Glenn Eckhart. Yesterday, Eckhart wasted no time in challenging Osborne to a series of three debates. If I were Osborne, I'd ask Eckhart to write a few sentences and ask voters whether he sounds like Executive material.
In Northampton County, the legislative body is called Council, and the five seats up this year are at-large seats The situation is reversed in Lehigh County, where the legislative body is called the Board of Commissioners. This year, the seats up for grabs are district seats. There are five of them.
District 1.- This is the northern tier of Lehigh County and its most conservative area. Tom Creighton is stepping down so he can run for magisterial district judge. Republican Marc Grammes, a former Commissioner, and Democrat Bob Elbich are the sole candidates.
District 2. - This is Percy Dougherty country.. First elected in 1994, he's been the people's choice six times. Shoaib Chaudhary is the Democrats' sacrificial lamb. He's an IT guy whose LinkedIn page claims credentials from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School. He claims the "Wharton difference." But if you read a little more closely, you'll see he only took business planning courses there. His real degree is from Oklahoma City University. What he brings the "Oklahoma City" difference. His LinkedIn page is dishonest, which makes me question whether this glorified salesman belongs in government.
District 3. - Just as Creighton has his eyes set on a judgeship, David Jones would like to be called Your Honor, too, but as Allentown's next mayor. To his credit, he has chosen against running for two offices simultaneously. Republican Bob Smith will face the winner of a primary contest among Dennis Pearson, Amy Zanelli and Basilio Bonilla, who alienated his fellow Directors when he was a member of Bethlehem's School Board. That's when he was there.
District 4. - Geoff Brace, a Democrat, is running unopposed. The only nasty thing I can say about him is that he works for State Rep. Mike "Darth Voter" Schlossberg.
District 5.- Mike Schware has decided to call it quits. It's just no fun anymore now that Scott Ott has fled for Texas. So there's an open seat and Democrats are running ... nobody. Brilliant. Matt Munsey must be helping them. Republicans have two candidates running in the primary, John Donches and Nathan Brown.
Allentown Mayor.- Get this.There are 10 candidates - 7 Democrats and 3 Republicans - in the running for this job. Incumbent Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski would have to be considered the front runner in such a crowded field, despite the existence of a political corruption investigation that has already snared six people and is clearly aimed at him. There is a portion of the City that identifies him with Allentown, just as Nazareth's disgraced ex-Mayor, Carl Strye, is identified by some with Nazareth. These people confuse the person with the municipality.
The other Democratic candidates in this race include Ray O'Connell, Sam Bennet, Charlie Thiehl, David Jones, Joshua Siegel and Nathan Woodring. The three Republicans who filed are Nat Hyman, Luiz Garcia and Christopher Pez.
I like Ray O'Connell, who turned Allentown City Council around and stood up to Fed Ed. I certainly could live with any other candidate, but think O'Connell is in the best position to hit the ground running and restore morale.
Allentown Council. - Five spots are open for eleven candidates, including incumbents Cynthia Mota, Daryl Hendricks and Julio Guridy. Others include Democrats Ed Zucal, Daniel Buglio, John Rosario, Jessica Lee Ortiz, Ken Heffentrager, Eugene McDuffiie and Courtney Robinson. In addition, Republican Lou Hershman is running. (Hershman and Robinson are running for the two-year seat only, while Rosario is running for both. I will take some time to learn more about these candidates. I can exclude Heffentrager, not for his criminal past, but because he is a demagogue who attempts to monopolize every meeting and is always angry.
In most other Lehigh County races,with notable exceptions like Whitehall Township or an open magisterial position, the biggest problem seems to be finding candidates. That's just like Northampton County. Newspapers bemoan this situation, but have largely stopped informing the public what goes on in these communities.
I have to salute the elections office in both counties for being so helpful to candidates Registrar Tim Benyo is accessible and his office will go the extra mile to help anyone. In NorCo, Dee Rumsey and her staff (Amy Hess, Richard Kessler and Jenna Gerbino) are unsung heroes, hard-working public servants who often go unnoticed but whose roles are vital in a form of government ruled by the people. .