NORTHAMPTON COUNTY - McClure takes the helm
On Jan. 2, before a standing room only crowd of over 300 people packed into Historic Courtroom One, Lamont McClure was sworn in by President Judge Stephen Baratta as the eighth Northampton County Executive since the inception of Home Rule in 1978.
“Being elected county executive is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do in public life,” McClure would eventually tell this throng of well-wishers. That’s similar to what he said in 2006 when he was first appointed to a seat on county council after two unsuccessful attempts. At that time, he said his sole interest was county government. He would go on to serve for 10 years. After a two year break, he’s back. This time, after running a textbook campaign that relied heavily on social media, he stands at the forefront of a strangely united Democratic party.
McClure had been the supervising attorney at the Bethlehem office of the Peter Angelos law firm. His wife Sandy, son Luke and mother stood by his side as he took the oath from Baratta.
McClure said he takes office at a time when the county faces some serious issues. “We have children at risk, and we must work with all diligence to make sure that each of those children is taken care of. We have elderly folk at risk, and this is unacceptable.” He spoke of these problems, as he often did about Gracedale, as a “moral obligation” being ignored in Washington.
In addition to McClure, six magisterial district judges were administered the oath of office by Judge Samuel P. Murray. They include incumbent jurists Douglas Schlegel, Richard H Yetter III, Alicia R. Zito and newly elected Nick Englesson, Alan Mege and Vivian Zumas.
Finally, Judge Michael Koury administered the oath to county council members Peg Ferraro, Ron Heckman, Lori Vargo Heffner, Bill McGee and Tara Zrinski.
President Judge Baratta congratulated everyone on their successful campaigns, but reminded them, “You are in the business of governing.” And as he did four years ago, Baratta repeated Theodore Roosevelt’s admonition that “[t]he object of government is the welfare of the people.”
Sacred Heart’s pastor, Father Robert George, provided the invocation and benediction. Saucon Valley HS student Melina Heffner, daughter of Lori Vargo Heffner, sang the national anthem. In addition, Northampton Community College’s Calista Cavanaugh performed “God Bless America.”
Immediately after this ceremony, county council convened for its reorganization. In a quick meeting, Ken Kraft was elected council president, Ron Heckman as vice president and Chris Spadoni was named council solicitor.