Eight candidates vie for 4 county commissioner seats
Lehigh County voters will select four candidates among a slate of eight to serve on the board of commissioners in the Nov. 3 municipal election.
The four, open at-large seats are for four-year terms.
Candidates include Democrats Dan Hartzell of South Whitehall Township, Joanne Jackson of Upper Saucon Township, Bob Martin of Upper Macungie Township, and Hillary Smith of Lower Macungie Township.
Republican incumbents Amanda Holt of Upper Macungie Township, Victor Mazziotti of the City of Allentown and Brad Osborne of South Whitehall Township.
Also running for one of the four seats is newcomer, Republican Marty Nothstein of Lowhill Township.
The Press asked the candidates the following question, “What is the first thing you will do if elected to office?”
I will work to convince my colleagues on the board, whomever they may be, to move ahead with the county administration’s plans for renovations at Cedarbrook. The initial phase of these plans– renewal of the facility’s D wing– should have begun when first proposed more than a year ago and might now be nearing completion. Investing in the modernization of the utility systems in these structurally sound buildings, and altering the floor plans to eliminate the aging design in which four residents share a room, would improve Cedarbrook’s reimbursement rates and its overall financial performance, benefiting both Cedarbrook residents and county taxpayers.
Having served on the Allentown School Board, my priority is community involvement, making sure the citizens have a voice. I will attend Crime Watch and community association meetings to further outreach in the county in terms of what is of priority and needed by the residents.
I will visit county staff and facilities. I want to hear from the regular folks in terms of how they see and understand the decisions that are made by the commissioners and to see the needs that they have in the operation of their jobs and facilities. I will assist in bridging the gap between partisan opinions on the board to provide the best results for the county.
First, I’d look for the best way to get started on the renovations at Cedarbrook Nursing Home.
The current commissioners have been delaying this project for nearly two years and the residents there shouldn’t have to wait a day longer than necessary for the improvements to begin. I’d also reach out to the county government’s elected officials and department heads to make sure they know I want to work with them to find the most efficient ways to provide services to the residents of Lehigh County to enhance quality of life here in the long term.
My first priority, if I have the honor of being elected, is to change the political climate from one of working against each other to working together on behalf of the citizens of Lehigh County.
The current board has proposed slashing our law enforcement budget– endangering the safety of our communities. They’ve talked about abandoning our seniors when they talk about selling Cedarbook. They disregard the needs of our most vulnerable children. I want a county government that enriches people’s lives and makes our communities a better place to live, work and raise a family.
I will continue to focus on serving the people and acting in their best interest, using my analytical skills and fresh perspective to review the budget and operations of the county. Government must live within its means while avoiding burdensome taxes. The current board has cut taxes, maintained services and ended with a surplus. By working collaboratively with the other commissioners, I will continue to improve accountability by reviewing contract processes and policies, increase transparency and efficiency through implementing paperless solutions and craft clear and measurable strategies for county services.
If re-elected, I will continue to apply my skill and experience to help bring about a cost-effective Lehigh County government.
I will remember that just like the average taxpayer, Lehigh County must find ways to do more with less. I ran for election in 2011 in response to a 16 percent tax increase. I have been fighting to reduce the county real estate tax rate, while maintaining needed county services. In the last four years, the county commissioners have reduced the county tax rate three times, without reducing county services, while maintaining a healthy rainy day fund balance.
As a newly elected commissioner, I would first like to meet with the county department heads, administration and employees. It is important that I understand where they feel they are succeeding and struggling when providing county services.
Then I will begin working with my fellow commissioners to continue the streak of tax cuts we’ve seen in Lehigh County. In the past three years, commissioners have passed two tax cuts and one tax rebate.
There will likely be another tax cut this year. I will work to continue the tax cut streak that our citizens not only want, but need.
As chairman of the board of commissioners, I will continue my efforts to open up a productive working relationship with the executive.
While Lehigh County is in good hands and the finances are healthy, we can accomplish more in terms of long-range planning and investments in the community if our two branches of government coordinated its efforts and moved forward together. Our victories can be shared accomplishments and credit, and everyone wins. This is what people expect of their elected officials, and rightfully so.