Parkland Press

Sunday, April 5, 2020
Joe Setton Joe Setton
Keisha Champagnie Keisha Champagnie
Matthew Mobilio Matthew Mobilio
Thomas J. Johns Thomas J. Johns
Diane Kelly Diane Kelly
Michael K. Wolk Michael K. Wolk
Tom Utsch Tom Utsch
Vincent J. Quinn Vincent J. Quinn
Matt Mulqueen Matt Mulqueen

4 Democrats, 5 Republicans run for 3 seats on S. Whitehall board

Thursday, May 16, 2019 by Debra Palmieri dpalmieri@tnonline.com in Local News

Four Democrats — Joe Setton, Keisha Champagnie, Matthew Mobilio and Thomas J. Johns — and five Republicans — Diane Kelly, Michael K. Wolk, Tom Utsch, Vincent J. Quinn and Matt Mulqueen — are on the ballot for three seats on the South Whitehall Board of Commissioners in the May 21 Municipal Primary.

Voters may choose not more than three of the candidates on each ticket for a four-year term in office.

We asked the candidates the following question: What do you see as the biggest issue facing South Whitehall residents?

DEMOCRATS

Joe Setton

Joe Setton earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Leicester University, England.

Setton says he has been practicing residential and commercial real estate and land development for more than 35 years in the Lehigh Valley.

Setton, a resident of South Whitehall Township since 1984, raised three children who graduated from Parkland High School,

He says he is deeply committed to this community.

His response to the question by The Press:

“Growth!!! While it is flattering to see developers willing to invest in our great township, we must make sure that during this period of rapid growth, our community maintains its safety and quality of life.

“With the extensive knowledge I’ve acquired from 35 years experience in land development, commercial and residential real estate broker, one of my primary contributions as a commissioner will be to ensure that developers adhere to zoning laws and subdivision regulations, and that they are qualified, responsible, and well supervised.

“I’ve lived and worked in South Whitehall Township since 1984, and this is my opportunity to give back to my community.”

Keisha Champagnie

Champagnie and her husband moved to Pennsylvania almost a decade ago.

She says they specifically chose South Whitehall Township because of its beauty, sense of community and welcoming family-friendly atmosphere.

“It’s not enough for me to just live in this wonderful community, I want to be instrumental in helping our township grow while preserving the unique characteristics and charm that keep families here for generations.

“I want my sons to continue to enjoy all that South Whitehall has to offer and look forward to the day that my grandchildren can walk the paths, visit the businesses and greet the neighbors that their parents did.

Her response to the question by The Press:

“Both in conversations with my friends and as I have gone around meeting and speaking with more and more township residents, the topic of large scale developments pop up.

“However, I think that the problem isn’t simply these developments. The concern over the development is just a symptom.

“The major issue is that residents aren’t feeling like their voices are being heard. There is a complacency that has led to a lack of transparency with how decisions are being made.

“Too often residents aren’t aware of what is happening until it’s too late. We need to do a better job of keeping residents aware of and fully engaged in important township decisions.

“We need to make sure that the needs, wants and opinions of township residents are valued. We need to make sure their voices are heard.

Matthew Mobilio

Matthew Mobilio grew up in Belleville, N.J. and moved to the Lehigh Valley in 1992.

He says he was raised by a single mother who struggled to make ends meet.

After high school he took two years off to work.In 2000, he attended Penn State University, Lehigh Valley campus with a major in communications, and a subspecialty in advertising.

He then moved to State College, to finish college at the University Park campus.

He graduated from Penn State in 2005.

From 2005-08 he attended Penn State Dickinson School of Law and graduated with a Juris Doctorate.

He worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Richard Gray of the Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas from 2008-2009.

And, from 2009-10, he worked for a small law firm in Williamsport, before moving back to the Lehigh Valley where he worked for several local firms including Norris McLaughlin and Post and Schell.

In 2016, he started Mobilio Law, a civil law firm focusing on family law, personal injury and employment law.

He has lived in South Whitehall Township for the past five years with his wife Heather and their three children Sienna, Luca and Mila. Mobilio also has served on the South Whitehall Township Zoning Board since February 2016.

His response to the question by The Press:

“The biggest issue facing South Whitehall is runaway land development. Walbert Avenue is and will be in the future in a perpetual state of construction, developers are cramming as many housing units as possible on to every available parcel of land and there doesn’t seem to be anyone willing to stand up and say enough is enough.

“The commissioners should focus less on maximizing tax dollars and more on preserving and protecting the South Whitehall Township way of life that brought so many of us to it in the first place.”

Thomas J. Johns

Thomas J. Johns, a small-business owner, is a 1974 graduate of Louis E. Dieruff High School.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State University in 1980.

He has served as a South Whitehall commissioner for eight years.

His response to the question by The Press:

“The major issue in South Whitehall Township to be addressed in actually twofold. The initial problem is awareness of township budgetary constraints.

“I would have a fiscally responsible approach to the budget to preclude the need to raise taxes.

“The second problem in the township is unfettered growth and development.

“My approach would include meaningful review of any proposed land development before presenting same for approval before any other governmental boards.”

REPUBLICANS

Diane Kelly

Diane Kelly is the mother of four children and an active member of the South Whitehall Township Planning Commission.

She has been a resident of the township since 2011, when she married her husband, Jeff.

In high school, her business teacher recommended Diane for a job at a local dental office and she was hired to help with typing and filing.

Upon graduation, she was offered a full-time position as bookkeeper and receptionist, and was trained in the highest standards of performance and professionalism.

She has worked as a volunteer for the past 10 years for South Whitehall Emergency Preparedness Day and has spent the last nine months on the planning commission, doing her homework to prepare for the upcoming revision to the township comprehensive plan.

Her response to the question by The Press:

“Growth and taxes are the most important issues facing our township. Nearly all residents that I have spoken with during my campaign shared these concerns.

“Growth is important but must be balanced in a way that it is in keeping with our unique township charm and protects our current residents and businesses.

“Excessive growth causes increased traffic which affect our daily life. It also puts a strain on critical township services, which in turn lead to increased taxes for all.

“I will diligently promote balanced growth that enhances our community and work for efficient use of your tax dollars.”

Michael K. Wolk

Michael K. Wolk has been a South Whitehall Township resident for 31 years.

He and wife, Sheila, raised three children — Adam, Laura and Sarah.

Wolk has a technical and business education with both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in chemical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and Lehigh University; and a Master’s in Business Administration from Lehigh University.

Wolk says he was a proven and well-respected leader during his 39-year business career with Air Products and Chemicals Inc. and he has had leadership roles in multiple nonprofit organizations.

He is a parishioner at St. Joseph the Worker Church, Orefield.

His response to the question by The Press:

“South Whitehall Township is experiencing unprecedented expansive development and financial challenges.

“I co-founded “South Whitehall Concerned Citizens” to fight massive developments like Ridge Farm and huge warehouses.

“I will change the township zoning ordinance to prevent future massive developments, limit new massive warehouses and preserve open space and farmland.

“Our township has a related financial management problem. After decades of no tax increases, taxes have doubled during the last five years.

“The massive development has not delivered the tax revenue required to control tax increases.

“I will exercise strong cost control and eliminate unnecessary spending to ease taxpayers’ financial burden.”

Tom Utsch

Tom Utsch has founded two enterprise software companies, the first of which held a public offering on Nasdaq in April 2000.

Before getting into software, Utsch served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force for seven years, the last three at the rank of captain, where he invented and was responsible for the deployment and operations of a national reconnaissance space system which served as part of the proof of concept of GPS guidance and he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

Utsch says that extremely successful proof of concept led to an operational system that is widely used in all military operations today and is called JDAM.

Utsch has Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees magna cum laude in mechanical engineering from Lehigh University.

He is a former volunteer calculus teacher at an inner city high school in Los Angeles and a former Assistant Scoutmaster and Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America.

In his spare time he is a rugby player, amateur violinist, and rides a 1992 FLHS. Utsch also has a private instrument pilot certificate.

He is a 1982 graduate of Parkland High School where he was on the infamous ’82 Scholastic Scrimmage Team.

His response to The Press question:

“Large new development projects in South Whitehall will adversely affect the quality of life of residents by making already crowded local roads virtually impassable.

“We also need to preserve the open spaces that remain in order to keep the character of the township that brought us here. We need commissioners who are ready to aggressively combat new development projects with every legal tool available.

“The current commissioners have failed in their duty to stand up for the quality of life of residents and instead acquiesce to virtually every development request.”

Vincent J. Quinn

Vincent J. Quinn has lived in South Whitehall for 34 years with his wife, Joanne, and three sons, who graduated from the Parkland School District.

Having three sons, Quinn says, he was heavily involved in many youth sports activities in South Whitehall.

Quinn says he is very involved with the all-volunteer South Whitehall Greenawalds Fire Department and is president of the fire company and a lieutenant of fire police.

He also volunteers with the South Whitehall Township Planning Commission.

Quinn says one core area he is most concerned about is volunteerism at the fire department level.

Quinn says he is also focused on the senior citizen community.

His response to The Press question:

“I feel traffic and growth are the two issues that are concerning to the residents of South Whitehall. We need to have a strong comprehensive plan focusing on traffic. along with a balance on open space management, and innovative smart growth development ideas. This will help to lead us in the right direction.

“By meeting the needs of our residents and businesses it will support our exceptional way of life and that is why we choose to live in the South Whitehall community.”

Matt Mulqueen

Matt Mulqueen is a lifelong township resident with worldwide life experience as a military and business leader.

He is a Parkland High School graduate. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from DeSales University and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma.

He is currently employed by Anixter Inc, as a key account manager.

Mulqueen has 12 years of township experience as a commissioner and as a zoning hearing board member.

Married to Patricia Mulqueen, a Northampton County Assistant District Attorney, Mulqueen has grown children.

His answer to The Press question:

“Continuing to balance growth with maintaining excellent municipal services. Support world class fire, police, EMS, and Public Works. Work closely with PennDOT and other state agencies to provide for adequate transportation infrastructure.

“Remain a good steward of our resident’s money both short and long term through sustainable programs to provide funding for capital expenditures.

“Aggressively seek grants to fund open space initiatives including the Jordan Creek Greenway Project and our numerous parks. Protect our heritage including the rebuilding of Wehr’s Dam and the King George Inn.

“Lead the development of the next township comprehensive plan to support these priorities.”