First, Lehigh took a bipartisan approach, electing a Democrat (Brace) and Republican (Grammes) as their leaders. Here's how Brace explains it: "For six of the 7 years I've served on the Board, I've served in the minority party, sometimes being treated as such. This will not be my approach in serving you. The work we have is too important. The people we serve are counting on us." He added that he'd like to see us rebuild "our region in a way that reflects our shared values, where Liberty and Justice for All are more than the concluding part of the pledge we say at the beginning of our meetings."
John Cusick, an experienced and knowledgeable Council member, was overlooked in favor of someone who has alienated both the courts and District Attorney. This is solely because he belongs to the wrong party.
Second, Brace abstained from voting for himself, and was clear to note his abstention both before and after the vote. In contrast, Lori Vargo-Heffner was eager to vote for herself in what is at least a technical violation of the state Ethics Act. In 2016, when John Cusick attempted to vote for himself as Council President, then Solicitor Phil Lauer advised he should abstain or waive the extra pay. Cusick opted to waive the rather modest $500 extra paid to a Council President. The state ethics commission has in the past ordered a borough council member who voted for himself as President to make a $500 payment to the borough even though his violation was unintentional.
There is one area in which Northampton County seems better. Both meetings were virtual. Believe it or not, Northampton appears to have worked out most of the bugs to their zoom meetings. Lehigh still has work to do.