The Dems host a handful of candidates

(6th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Last night 5 of the 6 candidates for City Council gave brief presentations at the regular monthly meeting of the Bethlehem City Democratic Committee. (Candidate Ritter was not present.)

Very brief.

The Dems plan to have a more extensive forum with all candidates together at the end of April or the beginning of May, just before the election.

See below for calendar items.

New candidates

Grace Crampsie Smith

David Saltzer


Michael Colon

Willie Reynolds

Paige Van Wirt


Now, class, are you paying attention? Can you identify the candidates?

Mark your calendars

Petition signing, Saturday, Feb. 23, Steelworker’s Union Hall, 53 E. Lehigh St., 10-5: candidates will probably be there.

Campaign kick-offs.  (I assume we are all invited.)

Smith: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 5:30-7:30, Roosevelt’s

Reynolds: Thursday, Feb. 24, 6:30, BrewWorks

A question for prospective city council members

(The latest in a series of posts relating to the environment, Bethlehem’s Climate Action Plan, Bethlehem’s Environmental Advisory Council, and candidates for election)

Kathy Fox is a member of the Bethlehem Environmental Advisory Council, a co-chair of the Northampton County Council of Democratic Women’s Environmental Committee, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Bethlehem Food Co-op.  Kathy involves herself in positive organizations and activities that foster community, environmental awareness, education, and good health. 


Thank you for your continued interest in the issue of climate change.  While we dilly-dally on the federal level on workable solutions, here in Bethlehem we should also be concentrating on making changes in our community and in local government zoning and planning because this is where we have the most control.

Even before the next election, I want to see the current city council and mayor to step up their game.  Climate change is not only a world issue, it is a local issue.

I want to hear our six (so far) prospective city council members talk about their specific solutions to climate change on a city level.

Years ago I sent an e-mail to the council members and the mayor urging them to change the city ordinance/building codes to require more stringent energy efficiency rules than the 2009 Pennsylvania building code regulations.  I never heard that the city made any changes.

Last year, Pennsylvania updated their building code regulations, and now the city must comply with the updated codes.  However, the city still needs to increase the energy efficiency requirements on all new buildings and renovations to require some level of LEED certification.  You do not need a written Climate Action Plan to start changing our buildings codes and ordinances.  The longer we wait, the direr the consequences will be.

As for the last fact presented by Jonah Goldberg in your blog post regarding the decrease in emissions in 2017, it fails to mention that in 2018 U.S. emissions increased 3.4% — “a jarring increase that comes as scientists say the world needs to be aggressively cutting its emissions to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change.”

See “U.S. greenhouse gas emissions spiked in 2018 — and it couldn’t happen at a worse time,” by Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis.

So prospective city council members, what changes in the existing City of Bethlehem zoning, planning, building codes, etc. are you willing to propose and support to more effectively battle climate change on a local level, and how quickly will you do this once you are elected?


Welcome candidate for City Council David Saltzer

(5th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Nicole Radzievich, “David Saltzer to run for Bethlehem City Council.” Morning Call, February 5, 2019.

Sara Satullo, “Retired Bethlehem firefighter running for city council.”, February 7, 2019.

Gadfly has not seen the press release on David Saltzer yet.

The news stories have the following info:

  • South Bethlehem resident
  • retired Bethlehem firefighter
  • sustained a catastrophic knee injury fighting a fire in 2015David Saltzer
  • president of Bethlehem Firefighters IAFF Local 735
  • 911 acting supervisor at Lehigh County
  • Upper Saucon emergency medical technician
  • emergency dispatcher for Medevac at Lehigh Valley Health Network
  • volunteers as a grant writer, treasurer and fundraising coordinator for Aunt Helen’s Cat’s In Need, a local nonprofit cat rescue
  • passionate about animals and is a “proud dog-dad” to Chevy and Cloie, both Shih Tzus, and Sophie, a Husky.
  • strong advocate for city’s first responders
  • backs investments in Bethlehem’s working class.

“These men and women put their lives on the line daily and cutting funding for personnel and infrastructure for first responders is unsafe,” he said in a statement. “We do these jobs because we are called to help people, and in order to do that we need to be funded for success.”

““I’ve grown up in this beautiful city, and I had the privilege of serving as a Bethlehem City Firefighter for 15 years,” Saltzer said. “Since I was a teenager, I’ve held multiple jobs at one time to make ends meet and I want to represent the hard-working people of Bethlehem.”

“Since I was young, I’ve felt a strong drive to help people. That’s what I find fulfilling and serving on city council is another way I can do that,” Saltzer said in a news release. “Bethlehem is a historic steel city made up of hard-working people and I want to be a voice for these hard workers. I feel like I can represent them because I’m just like them. I’d feel so honored to be able to do that.”

A reminder that the other new candidates for Council thus far are Grace Crampsie Smith and Carol Chamberlain Ritter. Incumbents running are J. William Reynolds, Michael Colon, and Paige Van Wirt. Incumbent Shawn Martell is not running. There are three four-year seats and one two-year seat on the ballot this year. Smith is running for the two-year seat, Ritter and Saltzer for the four.

Candidate CW Van Wirt on Ethics Reform

(4th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Gadfly encourages you to listen to a brief presentation that Candidate CW Van Wirt made Wednesday night at a meeting of Lehigh Valley for All.

CW Van Wirt gave a very, very brief work bio.

And then indicated support for walkability in Bethlehem, attracting millennials and tourists, and the pedestrian bridge. Van Wirt

But her main focus was on ethics reform.

We have, she said, an ok financial disclosure law.

But she passed out CM Callahan’s publicly available Campaign Finance Statement as an example.

Take a look.

She did not go into detail about the form.

Leaving it up to us to review.

Nothing illegal here, she said.

But she asked us to think about following the money.

Who are these people — the donors?

(Gadfly recognized some names – do you? – and saw what she was getting at.)

She said we need really tough ethics and campaign finance reform.

Look at what’s happened in Scranton, Philadelphia, Allentown.

She will especially push a bill requiring a person to recuse if a donor is involved.

(Hmm, perhaps like a recent case or two Gadfly covered.)

And, she said, recognize the good going on too, high-fiving Chief Delusio – serious crime down 26%.

So, you should listen to her in her own voice.

Here’s a clear position statement from one of the candidates for Council.

Gadfly also suggests you check out the Lehigh Valley for All web site. Follower Barbara Diamond introduced Gadfly to this organization. They hosted the recent “Education Summit” that Gadfly attended for good info on the charter school question we are discussing. A lively grass-roots organization! Recommended.

Welcome candidate for City Council Carol Chamberlain Ritter

(3rd in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Nicole Radzievich, “Ritter announces bid for Bethlehem City Council.” Morning Call, February 1, 2019.

Gadfly does not have Carol Ritter’s actual press release yet, but the Morning Call article looks like it’s close to a transcription:

Democrat Carol Chamberlain Ritter, a small business consultant, announced this week that she will run for a four-year term on Bethlehem City Council.Ritter

She said in a release that she would help the city prepare for the future while respecting its past.

“We need to do a better job of supporting our small businesses and creating the right environment for them to thrive,” Ritter said in a release.

She said she will run on five leadership principles: inspiring others, embracing change, active listening, small business and community building.

She serves on the board of directors for the Bethlehem Food Co-op, which will be opening a grocery store in downtown Bethlehem, and Lehigh Valley Reads, a United Way coalition with a goal that every child in the Lehigh Valley will be proficient in reading by third grade.

She had also served as a member of the Northampton Area School Board and president of the Pennsylvania PTA.

In addition, of interest is that Ritter ran for the Council seat vacated by Eric Evans that Paige Van Wirt has, and she is an alternate on the Zoning Board of Appeals.

See also Ritter’s “Carol Talks: Grow Ur Biz” web site.

A reminder that the other new candidate for Council thus far is Grace Crampsie Smith. Incumbents running are J. William Reynolds, Michael Colon, and Paige Van Wirt. Incumbent Shawn Martell is not running.

Reynolds runs again

(2nd in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Bethlehem 2017

press release Jan. 22, 2019

Bethlehem City Councilman J. William Reynolds Announces Re-Election  BETHLEHEM, PA –Bethlehem City Council President has announced that he will be seeking re-election reynolds 2to City Council in 2019. “Bethlehem continues to be a model of what a city can and should be in the 21st century – progressive, diverse, and economically strong.  I am proud of everything we have accomplished during my time on City Council but more work remains. That is why I am running for re-election.”  Reynolds stated that he is proud of everything that has been accomplished during the previous four years on City Council including the successful implementation of several initiatives proposed in his “Bethlehem 2017” legislative agenda.

  • Proposing and leading the creation of Bethlehem’s first climate action plan

  • Northside 2027 – a unique partnership and revitalization strategy for neighborhoods involving citizens, the Bethlehem Area School District, and Moravian College

  • Bethlehem’s first open data effort to improve access to public data in an effort to spur innovation and entrepreneurship

  • Financial Accountability Incentive Reporting (F.A.I.R.) – an initiative designed to increase transparency and efficiency of economic development incentives

  • Working with the Administration and City Council to improve the City of Bethlehem’s financial standing currently reflected in Bethlehem’s recent upgrade to a A plus bond rating from S&P

  • Being a vocal advocate for state legislation related to environmental protection, equality, marijuana decriminalization, and increased funding for the Bethlehem Area School District

  • Attending block watch meetings and remaining accessible to citizens related to neighborhood issues

If re-elected, Reynolds stated that his priorities would include continuing to implement and execute Bethlehem’s climate action plan, further develop Northside 2027, extend Bethlehem’s open data initiative as well as

  • Continuing to support economic redevelopment and revitalization efforts throughout the City

  • Working to keep Bethlehem the safest mid sized city in Pennsylvania

  • Focusing on improving governmental communication including modernizing Bethlehem’s social media channels in an effort to increase the efficient delivery of basic city services

  • Continue to build cooperative strategies with the Bethlehem Area School District in an effort to combat issues currently affecting Bethlehem’s most vulnerable children

CM Reynolds has served on Council for approximately 10 years; he is running for his 4th term in office. See the three items bolded above. The full text of JWR’s “Bethlehem 2017” is linked from the Gadfly sidebar. And both the Climate Action Plan and Northside 2027 are threads here on Gadfly. See under “Serious Issues” on the top menu or under “Topics” on the sidebar.

Welcome candidate for City Council Grace Crampsie Smith

(1st in a series of posts on candidates for election)

press release Jan. 14


Grace Crampsie Smith, a Democrat and longtime Bethlehem resident, has announced her candidacy for Bethlehem City Council.

Crampsie Smith, who has lived in the city for 28 years, is a school counselor at Easton Area High School.

“I was raised in a family that took its civic responsibilities very seriously,” said Crampsie grace crampsie smithSmith. “I want to continue the legacy of my parents who instilled in me and my six siblings the desire to contribute to the communities where we lived, worked, and played. They fostered in me a strong sense of duty to use my skills and education for the betterment of not only my family but our neighbors.”

Crampsie Smith’s father was a police chief of Summit Hill, PA, and her mother was a nurse. “They taught me early the importance of discipline and compassion,” Crampsie Smith said.

She said she decided to run for office now because her three children, Shannon, Bridget, and Brendan, are in law school, medical school, and college, and she has the time to devote to the many challenges and changes that face the city as it grows and continues to be a vital part of the Lehigh Valley area.

“I want to contribute to the city that I have called home and ensure that smart growth is achieved for the benefit of residents, employees, and visitors,” Crampsie Smith said. “It is important to maintain a balance between preserving the city’s past , honoring the people and businesses that built this city and achieving progress in our diverse community. Bethlehem is a city that has never been stagnant but has constantly re-invented itself in the arts, education, and business while never losing sight of its heritage.”

Crampsie Smith has a masters degree in education and school counseling from Lehigh University and a bachelors degree in sociology and social welfare from Bloomsburg University.

She was a member of the adjunct faculty at Lehigh-Carbon Community College and also worked as an addictions counselor and coordinator of community and early intervention services for the office of Lehigh County Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities.
Crampsie Smith said the advocacy skills she has honed in her job will help her to represent the residents of Bethlehem. “Council members must be mindful that our community is made up of people from all walks of life who have varied incomes, educations, and skills but all want the same things – to provide for their families and have a good quality of life.”

She said her personal and professional experiences taught her to be fiscally responsible, to negotiate with fairness, to be objective and pragmatic, and to have passion for justice. Her top priorities, she said, include the health, safety and welfare of residents and employees, budget efficacy and socially responsible economic development.
Crampsie Smith said it is crucial for City Council members to know the jobs of city employees and the challenges they face for the overall efficiency of city operations. She said that she completed the Bethlehem Police Citizens Academy to get a better understanding of the operations of the Bethlehem Police Department.

Crampsie Smith is a member of the Bethlehem City Democratic Committee and committee person for Precinct 14-1, Northampton County Democratic Committee, Lehigh Valley Democratic Progressive Coalition, Lehigh Valley ROAR, Lehigh Valley 4 ALL, and the University of Pennsylvania and Haverford College Parent Alumni Association.
Her volunteer work has included Ryan’s Tree for Grieving Children, Musikfest, OLPH School, LV Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the American Heart Association. She is a member of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church.