Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Northampton County: Council considers residency requirement

Thursday, February 14, 2013 by CAROL SMITH Special to the Bethlehem Press in Local News

Northampton County Council will vote on a requirement for future sheriffs, coroners, recorder of deeds and register of wills to be county residents.

Councilman Ken Kraft, who introduced the ordinance, wrote in an email interview that he wants these positions to be like other elected positions, where you need to be a resident to run.

"I have to live in my district. If I bought a house in Bethlehem Township, I could not be the rep for district 1," Kraft said.

In explaining why he thinks there needs to be a residency requirement, he writes, "We have over 300,000 people who live in Northampton County, and I think the majority of them would back me with this, and I also cannot believe that we have no residents that are qualified to do these jobs."

In the county's pre-home rule charter, these positions were elected ones and the candidate needed to be a resident to run. Over time these positions changed to appointments or hired positions.

"I don't think that the residency requirement went away for these positions just because we took the election part out and I am going to make this a requirement," Kraft added.

Council will consider this new residency requirement at its Feb. 21 meeting.

If approved, the residency requirement will not impact current county employees.

But some people already have voiced their concern.

While elected officials are required to be county residents, Christopher Moakley, who works in the county's Human Resources Personnel Analysis department, said as part of council's Feb. 7 courtesy of the floor that the residency requirement is a bad idea.

"It shouldn't matter where someone lives," Moakley said in providing the examples of fine, quality individuals currently employed by Northampton County that do a fine job despite the fact that they do not live in the county.

Council's next regular meeting is at 6:30 p.m., Feb. 21 on the third floor of Northampton County Courthouse at 669 Washington St., Easton.