In the 2017 municipal races, Northampton County elected five Democrats for the six seats up for grabs: Ron Heckman, Lori Vargo Heffner, Bill McGee and Tara Zrinski, and Lamont McClure toppling incumbent John Brown in the executive race. The only Republican to hold onto office, and just barely, was Peg Ferraro. This dominance by Democrats was a statewide phenomenon. Will the blue wave continue in this year’s races? The following seats are up for grabs.
District Attorney John Morganelli has announced his candidacy for judge. He’ll be running for the open seat created by the resignation of Judge Emil Giordano. Morganelli is seeking both the Democratic and Republican nominations. This veteran prosecutor was defeated last spring in the congressional primary. He is a Bethlehem resident who grew up on the Southside with Mayor Bob Donchez.
The only candidate to announce thus far is Tom Carroll, a Republican who chairs both the Lehigh Valley Tea Party and Republican Action Team. Carroll, who obtained his law degree from Catholic University in 1988, has worked in Montgomery County as both a prosecutor and public defender. He was also an assistant district attorney in Northampton County between 2005 and 2007.
A Bethlehem native, Carroll is the nephew of Jean Belinski, the late former Bethlehem City Council member. Carroll was unsuccessful in his own bid for city council, and also fell short when he ran for judge in 2013.
Richard “Bucky” Szulborski, a former Bethlehem City Council member, is serving as interim controller until the end of the year. He has received kudos for his impartiality, but a condition of his appointment was that he would step down at the end of the year. Easton City Controller Tony Bassil, a Democrat, has announced his candidacy for the post.
Bassil, who was controller for corporations in the private sector, has been Easton’s controller since 2006. During his tenure, the city has consistently produced balanced budgets, resulting in a $4 million increase in that city’s fund balance. The city’s credit rating has steadily increased, and he restructured city debt to save Easton $2 million.
The four council seats up this year are district, and not at-large, seats. Council members in districts are elected by voters from the Bethlehem, Easton, Nazareth and Slate Belt (or Nothern Tier) areas. The only candidate to announce so far is Bushkill Township Republican Korry Franke, an airline pilot. That is in what is considered the Slate Belt district.
Franke’s interest in government was sparked when the county refused to move a polling station from a Bushkill Township elementary school to a nearby volunteer fire company that was willing to host elections.
This story will be updated as more candidates announce.