Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, October 24, 2017
PRESS PHOTO BY JENNIFER BODISCHLehigh County Executive Tom Muller with wife M.J. and daughter Joy has announced he would not be seeking a second term. Muller gave his endorsement to Phillips Armstrong, president of the Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners. PRESS PHOTO BY JENNIFER BODISCHLehigh County Executive Tom Muller with wife M.J. and daughter Joy has announced he would not be seeking a second term. Muller gave his endorsement to Phillips Armstrong, president of the Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners.

LEHIGH COUNTY-Muller endorses Armstrong for county exec

Monday, February 27, 2017 by Jennifer Bodisch Special to The Press in Local News

Supporters and friends gathered around Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller for what was thought to be a campaign kickoff at Brookside Country Club, Lower Macungie Township.

However, just minutes into his speech, Muller announced he would not seek re-election for a second term.

“As great as this chapter of my life has been and continues to be, it will come to an end this year,” Muller said at the event. “This is not the kickoff of my campaign tonight. I know that will come as a surprise to most of you.”

Muller explained the reasons for his decision.

After his daughter graduates from Emmaus HS in 2019, he and his wife M.J. plan to move to the Carolinas.

“We have three sons in the Carolinas and two grandsons there, whom I see too infrequently,” he said. “M.J. and I plan to close the Lehigh Valley chapter of our book.”

Muller also endorsed Democrat Phillips Armstrong of Whitehall Township as his successor.

Armstrong was not present at the event, as he was attending a Whitehall commissioners meeting, but Muller’s endorsement was followed by applause in the previously silent room.

“Phil is the current president of the Whitehall Township board of commissioners, a retired teacher and coach,” Muller said. “He shares my commitment to focus on doing what’s right for the citizens of this county, which is something I wanted to find — the right person who could stand for the right things for us and keep the momentum going because I do think we have good momentum.”

Armstrong ran for the seat in the state House of Representatives in the 183rd District vacated by former state Rep. Julie Harhart last year but lost the tight race to Zach Mako.

Armstrong is a retired Social Studies teacher of 40 years at Whitehall High School, where he also coached the girls basketball team.

Muller’s first and only term as Lehigh County executive began in 2014.

He moved to Lehigh County to take on the job as vice president and general manager of Binney & Smith (Crayola) in 1990, according to his biography on the Lehigh County Government website.

He transitioned from the private to the public sector when he became Lehigh County director of administration, a position he held for eight years before running for executive in 2013.

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin spoke to The Press at the event.

“I understand it,” Martin said. “I’m disappointed because Tom’s always been very supportive of thedistrict attorney’s office and me personally, but I wish him well and I’m sure he made the right decision for himself and his family.”

State Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-132nd, also spoke to The Press.

“I’m sorry to see Tom go,” Schlossberg said. “He’s been a great executive. He’s brought sanity and competence to a level of government that needed it.”

Also seeking the executive seat is Republican Brad Osborne, a second-term county commissioner and former South Whitehall Township commissioner, who began his campaign in late January.