Catasauqua Press

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Voters will choose Northampton County executive, council

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 by BERNIE O’HARE Special to The Press in Local News

Two candidates are running for Northampton County executive in the Nov. 7 municipal election, and 10 candidates are running for five open seats on county council. The Press asked all of the candidates the following question: What is the most important issue in this election?

Their responses to our question follow.

COUNTY EXECUTIVE:

LAMONT MCCLURE (D)

By far, the most important issue in this race is governing philosophy. I have a “green” agenda, and Mr. Brown has a “gray” one. Mr. Brown reduced the county’s commitment to the preservation of farmland, environmentally sensitive land and parks, 84 percent from Stoffa-era levels. One of the consequences of the Brown cuts is that they have exacerbated the negative affects of warehouse development and the increased truck traffic.

To help compensate for these downsides, I will immediately return our green space budget to a Stoffa-era level. However, Mr. Brown has a different “gray” agenda in mind. Instead of preserving green space, Mr. Brown wants to build a monstrous $200 million gray jail.

The choice in this race is about whether we want a “green” or a “gray” future. That, in my opinion, is the paramount issue.

JOHN BROWN (R)

The candidate did not respond.

COUNTY COUNCIL:

RON HECKMAN (D)

The issue that stands out for me is the ability of the county to deliver necessary county services while, at the same time, balancing those needs with fiscal responsibility. The county must manage capital projects and services while holding real estate taxes in check.

LORI VARGO HEFFNER (D)

The most important issue in this race is to select a candidate who will best serve the county’s needs in a transparent, effective and efficient manner. Farmland preservation and open space protection, filling gaps in health and human services with quality candidates and accessing funding sources other than taxpayer dollars are key issues that I plan to address as a council member.

BILL MCGEE (D)

I believe our number one focus should be overall quality of life, consisting of family-supporting jobs, protecting your tax dollars and providing quality human services in Northampton County.

PETER MELAN (D)

The controversy surrounding the jail facilities is superficial, meaning the real issue is recidivism and incarcerating individuals with mental illness and substance abuse. County leaders need to engage with the courts in an effort to provide the appropriate sentences — in many cases, medical treatment and social counseling.

TARA ZRINSKI (D)

Creating a more sustainable future should be our number one priority in Northampton County. We do this by keeping taxes stable, enacting responsible county budgets, addressing opioid addiction and embracing renewable energy policies.

RON ANGLE (R)

Bad government. No matter who is elected executive, I will be a check and balance on him and will keep your government accountable.

PEG FERRARO (incumbent) (R)

The biggest issue in this race is who will best continue the success, both the financial and the strategic planning, of the last four years. Gracedale is in the black, 33 bridges are to be completed in the next four years and, for the first time in several years, the budget is balanced without dipping into cash reserves.

GLENN GEISSINGER (incumbent) (R)

Continuing to have a high quality of life for our citizens. This means providing the needed services and oversight expected of the county government — keeping Gracedale a quality care facility, maintaining open spaces and farmland, repairing infrastructure and ensuring fiscal responsibility while performing these needed governmental functions.

HAYDEN PHILLIPS (incumbent) (R)

Pennsylvania is unstable, with a history of missed budgets, deficit spending and threats to reduce casino revenue. This puts state-funded county services in doubt. Northampton County needs to be a financial rock to back stop, as best as possible, the failing of the state to fund these basic services.

SETH VAUGHN (incumbent) (R)

The most important issues for me on the council are maintaining the quality of care and financial health at Gracedale nursing home and supporting our human services department’s fight against the opioid epidemic as its effect crosses multiple departments’ scopes and functions.