“we really do need an ethics in government ordinance and campaign finance reform” (72)

(72nd in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Peter Crownfield is officially retired but spends most of his time working with students in his role as internship coordinator for the Alliance for Sustainable Communities–Lehigh Valley.

Gadfly:

I agree that these transfers are problematic — as are campaign contributions by individuals who do business with the city or seek regulatory relief from the city.

So we really do need an ethics in government ordinance and campaign finance reform.

Peter

After the dust settled — campaign dust, that is — here are the election results (71)

(71st in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Tabulation taken from WFMZ

The 4yr position:

Candidate Votes Percentage
Paige Van Wirt i 2,608 24%
J William Reynolds i 2,602 24%
Michael Colon i 2,459 23%
Carol Ritter 2,379 22%
David Saltzer 848 8%
Total 10,896

The 2yr position:

Candidate Votes Percentage
Grace Crampsie Smith 2,096 51%
Will Carpenter 1,462 36%
Ashley Daubert 546 13%
Total 4,104

“The practice of using campaign funds breeds cronyism and is not in the interest of democracy” (70)

(70th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Barbara Diamond enjoys retirement as Lehigh University Director of Foundation Relations by engaging in various activities and organizations hopefully for the betterment of the community. Her particular interests at the moment are preventing gun violence, local government ethics reform, and Bethlehem Democratic Committee work.

Dear Gadfly,

Since Ms Martin mentioned me personally [comment, post #58; see also post #68], I feel I must reply. The important difference in our contribution to a candidate is that our livelihood does not depend on securing largess from the city in the form of contracts, permits, licenses, tax abatement (TIF, CRIZ) and other benefits that can flow to those who seek to influence public officials. We are advocates for good government, were actively involved in a grassroots effort to establish common sense ethical guardrails that would protect Bethlehem from the devastating corruption experienced by Allentown. The practice of using campaign funds breeds cronyism and is not in the interest of democracy. What we want from our local government is to be independent of special interests and make decisions that benefit the city rather than special interests. This is admittedly not an easy task because of the very real effort by various entities to cultivate relationships with local officials for the purpose of influence; campaign contributions are a major way to do so. If you want to know more about high standards in municipal ethics, please visit cityethics.org. As for being originally from Bethlehem or not, everyone should be in favor of good government and sound democratic practices whether one is from here or not.

Barbara

(Elise Martin, if you are reading this, your email doesn’t work — would you please contact the Gadfly? Thanks.)

The beauty of this fascinating discussion about campaign funding “is that all are exercising their right to express their opinions without fear of censorship or imprisonment” (69)

(69th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Stephen Antalics is Gadfly #1.

Gadfly:

My, oh my, fascinating, all this discussion about campaign funding. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Let’s flip a coin! The beauty of all this is that all are exercising their right to express their opinions without fear of censorship or imprisonment. Is it not great to live in a republic form of government? Next Monday we will celebrate a holiday whose origin is based on those many who served and died to preserve that freedom that we exercise today. I hope you expressed that freedom and your thanks by having voted today!!

Stephen

Reply to the “fake news” post (67)

(67th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Gadfly:

I’m not sure how to reply to this post (#62), but I’ll try.

First, I’ll assume for the purposes of this reply, that the writer has first-hand knowledge of the Ritter campaign funding by the Friends of Bryan Callahan and Councilman Callahan. Loan or not, the concern is that candidates for Council should be independent thinkers and not someone who can be counted on to vote a certain way. Unfortunately, there should be some concern by the voters whether Ms. Ritter is truly independent. BTW, either Ms. Ritter or Councilman Callahan could have explained things as did the writer. They did not.

Second, the reason that Ms. Van Wirt and Mr. Carpenter are self-funded (or even if private individuals donated to either of their campaigns — and I have no knowledge about that at all) is to preserve their independence and avoid even the appearance of a lack of independence should they be elected. I fail to see how self-funding or individual donations are somehow wrong.

Third, you don’t have to be a life-long resident of Bethlehem to know where the City today comes from: the hard work and foresight of prior administrations and the citizens who stuck it out. That said, that is not a qualifying factor in securing a Council seat. It certainly helps inform decisions, but that kind of research is what I would expect any intelligent Council person to undertake when assessing a matter requiring Council action. We should be electing candidates who have knowledge and experience in dealing with the issues facing Bethlehem. Responsible development is one of them and both Ms. Van Wirt and Mr. Carpenter have that experience and the power of independent thinking to address that issue and others.

Finally, do Ms. Ritter, Ms. Crampsie Smith, and Councilman Callahan embrace the divisiveness of the writer (#62)? I hope not, but wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear from them directly on that.

Augustus Wolle

(Augustus Wolle is a pseudonym, but the identity of the author is known to Gadfly.)

Why keep our own little machine politics system? (66)

(66th in a series of posts on candidates for election)

Local citizen of West Bethlehem, Sarah Andrew.

I love Bethlehem, and being from Bethlehem, and living in west Bethlehem, and all things Bethlehem. I was born and raised here with a few years’ hiatus in D.C. and Chicago, and could not wait to move back to raise my family. I consider myself middle class and come from a working/middle class background and that is important to my identity and values.

That said, it’s not a skill to be “from Bethlehem.” We have our own little machine politics system, and I don’t see why it benefits us to keep it that way. If we love Bethlehem, don’t we want to open our arms to other folks who see what we see in it, and welcome their views and opinions? Is everyone who moved from out of town an “elitist.” (Ugh, that word. What does it even mean?)

Every candidate from Bethlehem has been acting like whoever loves it the most deserves to be on City Council. We get it, you love it here. Hey, so do we! That doesn’t, by itself, qualify anyone for the job. A council position is not and should never be a birthright. As campaign financing goes, I do take issue with a totally self-funded campaign. But sharing funds among candidates is also distasteful at best — council members should be accountable to the public, not in debt to each other.

Sarah