Board defends decision
Confronted by a room overflowing with disgruntled residents, South Whitehall commissioners supplied reasons for their choice of Joe Setton to assume the position vacated by Commissioner Mark Pinsley.
Board President Christina “Tori” Morgan explained her reason.
“I wanted to bring someone in who didn’t have a predisposed opinion — someone who has an open mind,” Morgan said.
She added Setton brings balance to the board and is not a one-issue candidate.
As Setton is a Democrat, Morgan noted his appointment follows the wishes of voters who elected Democrat Pinsley in 2017.
Commissioner Glenn Block echoed the same idea.
“I feel a Democrat who was leaving office should be replaced by a Democrat coming in,” Block said.
Commissioner David Bond concurred.
“Mark was the first Democrat in a long time,” Bond said. “I thought in my heart I was doing the right things.”
Commissioner Matt Mulqueen reported he would have been willing to wait 30 days to appoint someone but was shouted down by the audience at the Nov. 20, 2019, meeting.
During the presentation of comments from unhappy residents, Setton sat quietly on the podium in his seat on the board.
He provided remarks on the matter.
“I care about South Whitehall and want to give back to the community where I’ve lived for 35 years,” Setton said.
“I’m very much concerned about Ridge Farm as you are.
“The best thing to do is to form a dialogue with the developer. Stress what the problems are and maybe we can resolve some of the issues.”
Morgan reported some biographical information on the new commissioner.
Setton was born in Egypt, grew up in Israel, and received a university degree in England.
He served in the Israeli army and later managed a garment factory in the Philippines. Later, he moved to Houston, Texas, and became involved in real estate.
“As a commissioner, his goal is to emphasize our shared humanity and work to find the things that unite us rather than separate us,” Morgan said.
The session ended with a somewhat conciliatory tone.
Commissioner Bond praised Michael Wolk for starting the group of concerned citizens.
“Your voices are heard,” Bond said. “Your efforts are not going unnoticed.”
Morgan, the only current commissioner remaining for the new term, also commented.
“I look forward to working with the new board,” Mordan said. “We have a lot of challenges. We have to make the best decisions for the entire township.”