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January 8, 2004 Meeting Minutes
SPECIAL BETHLEHEM CITY COUNCIL MEETING
Thursday, January 8, 2004 – 7:30 PM – Town Hall
2. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG
3. ROLL CALL
President Schweder called the meeting to order. Father Kosta Petrogeorge of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church offered the invocation which was followed by the pledge to the flag. Present were Ismael Arcelay, Jean Belinski, Robert J. Donchez, Gordon B. Mowrer, Magdalena F. Szabo, and J. Michael Schweder, 6.
President Schweder announced that the purpose of the Special City Council Meeting this evening is to take action on filling the vacancy on City Council and no other business will be considered.
Procedure - Filling Vacancy on Council
President Schweder announced the procedure for the meeting, as follows: Candidates will be recognized in alphabetical order. Each candidate will make a two to three minute presentation about themselves and how they could contribute as a Member of Bethlehem City Council. Members of Council will have the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates. Under Agenda Item 7, Resolution, the President will ask Members of Council for nominations; a motion will be made to close nominations; the President will state the names of candidates who received nominations, which must be seconded; each Member of Council, as their name is called by the Clerk, will state the name of the candidate for whom they wish to vote; the Tally will be announced; and the Clerk will call the roll on the finalists. Council will vote on the Resolution with the name of the finalist.
President Schweder stated that he would accept a motion to follow the procedure.
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski moved to follow the procedure outlined by President Schweder.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder 6. The motion passed.
4. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR (for public comment on Resolution to be voted on by Council this evening)
James Follweiler, 2222 Main Street, recommended that the Members of Council choose a replacement Council person based on the idea of picking an individual who ran for office this year for City Council. Mr. Follweiler asserted "it takes courage, passion, and a lot of intangibles to step into the public arena to run for office as I experienced this year myself." Mr. Follweiler said he would support Mr. Bilheimer who ran in the General Election; and, in lieu of him, Mr. Follweiler said he would rise in support of Mr. Sanders who within the Democratic party lost in this prior May's Primary Election. Mr. Follweiler continued on to say he would also consider operating with a vacant position until the next election could be arranged. Mr. Follweiler expressed the opinion that establishing the system that in recent history produces revolving appointments to City Council sets a bad precedent. Be it within the General Election system or the Primary system of the Democratic party, Mr. Follweiler stressed it gives the immense power of incumbency to those who are appointed and not elected. Mr. Follweiler felt it is a disadvantage to those who still chose to run from whichever party for elected office. Mr. Follweiler said in the end do what is right and do what is best to serve the City of Bethlehem.
President Schweder, confirming that the appointment to the
vacant City Council seat is for a two year position, highlighted
the fact that if the Council seat were to remain vacant it
would remain vacant for two years.
A. Council Member John B. Callahan - Letter of Resignation
President Schweder, affirming that the letter of resignation from former Council Member John B. Callahan was accepted at the January 5, 2004 Reorganizational City Council meeting, asked that the letter be entered into the record of this meeting.
The letter dated January 5, 2004 from John B. Callahan, read as follows:
"This letter serves to advise you of my resignation
from Bethlehem City Council. As you know, I will be sworn
in as Mayor, today, January 5, 2004. I would like to take
this opportunity as I leave City Council to thank you and
council members for your professional support over the last
six years in working together to resolve the many issues facing
Bethlehem. I look forward to our continued relationship, building
on the successful endeavors of not only our terms in office
but previous council and administration members as well.”
B. Letters of Interest – Filling Vacancy on Council
President Schweder asked the Clerk to read the names of the individuals who submitted letters of interest to fill the seat of former Council Member John B. Callahan.
The Clerk read the names of 15 individuals who submitted letters of interest, as follows: David M. Beckwith, Robert W. Bilheimer, Michael C. Deschler, David T. DiGiacinto, William M. Fitzpatrick, Patrick Herrity, Kenneth M. Kraft, Joseph F. Leeson, John D. Lychak, Thomas E. Mohr, Vincent M. Paden, Anthony E. Rybak, David P. Sanders, William Scheirer, and Richard Szulborski.
President Schweder noted that two candidates, William Scheirer and Guillermo Lopez, have withdrawn from consideration.
President Schweder asked that the letters be entered into the record of this meeting.
The letters from each of the individuals read as follows:
Letter from David M. Beckwith - #3 360 Conestoga Street - Bethlehem PA 18018
"I wish to apply for the vacancy on Bethlehem's City Council that I understand will be for a term from January 9, 2004 through January 2, 2006.
Having been employed as an attorney for the Bethlehem Steel Corporation from July 1970 until my retirement in January 2001, I have enjoyed living in Bethlehem for 33 years.
I was born and raised in Lorain, Ohio; graduated from DePauw University with a major in political science in 1961; and graduated from Western Reserve University Law School in 1965. I was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1964 and clerked for the Chief Judge of the U. S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Subsequently, I was admitted to the West Virginia Bar in 1966 and the Pennsylvania Bar in 1972. With my retirement, I have applied and been granted inactive status in Ohio and Pennsylvania. A more complete resume is attached.
I know the newly elected Mayor and several members of Council. I would like to serve because I believe it is my duty to return something to the community that has been my home and given me so much.
I am a member of Central Moravian Church where I am Vice President of the Trustees and chairman of several committees.
My wife Helen and I live at 360 Conestoga Street where I have been condominium President for the last three years.
If I am chosen to serve out the remainder of this term, I do not intend to seek reelection."
Letter from Robert W. Bilheimer - 3283 Beaufort Drive Bethlehem, Pa 18017
"I respectfully request that my name be placed in consideration for an appointment to City Council to take the seat that is to be vacated next month upon Mr. Callahan's assumption of the office of Mayor.
I believe that my blend of educational training and over 20 years of business, government affairs and community experience make me an ideal candidate for City Council. I also think that my recent bid for an elective seat on Council, although unsuccessful, demonstrates my broad support throughout the City of Bethlehem.
I look forward to discussing my candidacy with you and the other members of Council. Attached is a current copy of my resume for review."
Letter from Michael C. Deschler - 512 North New Street - Bethlehem PA 18018
“This letter is to advise you that I would like to be considered for the vacant City Council position. Enclosed is a copy of my resume."
Letter from David T. DiGiacinto - 135 E. Wall Street - Bethlehem PA 18018
"It has come to my attention that a City Council position has become available as a result of the vacancy created when John Callahan was elected Mayor. I would be very interested in vying for that open position. I understand the remaining term is two years. I am including my resume and biography with this letter for consideration by City Council.
With regard to current city related activities, I am involved on the Board of Historic Bethlehem, Inc. (HBI), and Chair the Rt. 412 Ahead Advocacy Group. I was selected to serve on the Board of the Bethlehem Authority and have been doing so for approximately one year. My current residence is 135 E. Wall Street in Bethlehem. I have been there since 1999.
I would relish the opportunity to get more involved in Bethlehem Government and could be a positive contributor to the City's future."
Letter from William M. Fitzpatrick – 732 Center Street - Bethlehem PA 18018
"Pursuant to the current vacancy on Bethlehem City Council, I respectfully submit my resume for your and Council's consideration.
Apart from my professional career which has been spent mainly with Bethlehem Steel Corp., I have been very active in my neighborhood as well as various larger community service issues. That community service has been directed mainly to the creation and operation of a very strong block watch group, Neighbors on Watch, which operates in the 600, 700 and 800 blocks of Center Street. Also encompassed in that group is the area of North and Garrison Streets running from High Street to New Street. In addition, I have had the privilege of serving on the Board of Directors for the Bethlehem Public Library for the past two years.
Additionally, I have been involved in the sport of figure skating on local, national and international levels. The primary focus of my voluntary efforts has been to encourage the youth of our community and elsewhere in sports. It remains my belief that young people benefit greatly from sports participation, and that the adults who support such activities must insure fairness and integrity. My resume outlines the numerous events and committees in which I have been involved in that regard.
I am a lifelong resident of Bethlehem - a graduate of both Liberty High School and Moravian College. In addition, I am a very active blood donor at the Miller Memorial Blood Center. Having encountered a circumstance within my family which required a large blood supply, this is an area about which I feel very strongly.
Regarding my specific and/or general attitudes toward issues impacting the City of Bethlehem:
1. It is my strong belief that the City of Bethlehem is best served by having good employment opportunities for its citizens. Accordingly, I support the development of the Lowe's project at the former Durkee site. I further believe that a critical need will be the development of the former Bethlehem Steel property on the south side. While hoping to preserve the historic aspects of Bethlehem Steel and its rich heritage, we must do everything we can to attract possible employers to that site. I do not favor a strip mall.
2. We must find ways to market our water supply without compromising the needs of the citizens of Bethlehem. This is a valuable asset which can yield substantial returns in terms of revenue.
3. Services to our citizens are paramount. While I truly hope that we can hold the line on any new taxes, the welfare of our city must come first.
4. While I support the concept of an independent Parking Authority, we must review its performance periodically to be sure that it is functioning in the most effective manner possible. In that regard, I feel that is essential to create a large amount of free parking in and around the Broad Street shopping area if we are to attract shoppers on an ongoing basis.
5. I will strongly support Community Policing. It is, in my opinion, the most effective method of "partnering" that the Police Department can do with the neighborhoods of Bethlehem. In keeping with my effort in our Neighbors on Watch block watch, I would explore any potential for "partnering" of our City service with the citizens of Bethlehem.
6. We should look at possible incentives to attract residents from the outskirts of town back into the city limits. This could be accomplished through possible tax incentives or other similar attractive programs.
Hopefully, this gives you a capsule summary of how I stand on some issues. I welcome further questions from you or City Council. Please feel free to contact me for any questions or clarifications.
Realizing that this is a difficult decision for Council, I respectfully submit my name in the belief that I could serve the City well. Thank you very much for your consideration."
Letter from Patrick Herrity - 732 Hawthorne Road - Bethlehem PA 18017
"Please accept this letter of interest as my application for the vacancy on City Council of the City of Bethlehem, as a result of the election of John B. Callahan to position of Mayor. I look forward to the opportunity to address Council and answer any questions you may have. Enclosed please find a brief resume for your review. Thank you in advance for your consideration."
Letter from Kenneth M. Kraft - 2337 East Boulevard - Bethlehem PA 18017
"Please find enclosed my resume for consideration for the temporary City Council Seat that will be filled in the next few weeks.
I am a Life Long member of Bethlehem and have been active in the city for many years. The enclosed resume was not written for a position on council but I would look forward to the opportunity to meet you and discuss my qualifications for the position."
Letter from Joseph F. Leeson, Jr. – 70 East Broad Street - Bethlehem PA 18018
"Please accept this letter, and my enclosed resume, as my application for consideration for appointment to the anticipated vacancy on City Council.
If selected to fill the vacancy, I believe I will bring the following to the work of Council:
(1) Experience. I have attended City Council meetings continuously
12 years. I know City government. I know the issues. I know the
challenges the City is facing. There will be no learning curve or need for
me to get "up to speed" on City government.
(2) Integrity. As a former City Solicitor (as of 1/5/04),
I believe I have
earned a reputation for being conscientious, for exercising sound
judgment, for sincerity and candor. I took my responsibilities very
seriously and insisted that all of the people who worked with me did so as
(3) Commitment. I was born in Bethlehem and have lived here
my entire life.
My wife and I are raising our family here. I maintain my private practice
of law here. I have made a strong personal commitment to the City both
as a private citizen, and as a former City official. I believe the City's best
days are still ahead of us. I would like to work with you in helping to
chart a course for the future. If selected, I pledge to work cooperatively,
and with the fullness of my capabilities, to insure a bright and promising
future for Bethlehem.
Thank you for your consideration."
Letter from John D. Lychak - 35 East Elizabeth Avenue - Bethlehem
"I am writing to express my interest in being considered for the present vacancy on the Bethlehem City Council.
I was born and raised in Bethlehem, educated in its public schools, and with my wife, have made it our home. Through my work with Historic Bethlehem Incorporated ("HBI") I have developed a deep appreciation for how Bethlehem's future is linked to the preservation of its past. I would like to contribute further to Bethlehem's future by participating in City government. I also believe my legal education and broad experience would add to the usefulness of this contribution.
I have enclosed copies of my resume for all Council Members. However, if you require any further information or if City Council has any questions prior to our meeting please let me know. Otherwise, I look forward to meeting with you and the other members of City Council."
Letter from Thomas E. Mohr – 1006 Prospect Avenue - Bethlehem PA 18018
“Please accept my name as a candidate for the vacant seat that will be created when Councilman John Callahan is sworn in as Mayor of the City of Bethlehem.
I have enclosed my resume for your consideration."
Letter from Vincent M. Paden – 521 Ninth Avenue - Bethlehem
"I am sending this letter and a copy of my personal resume in regards to the soon to be vacant seat on city council, and my interest in filling the seat.
I have been a lifelong resident of the City of Bethlehem, and I truly love this town with a passion. I feel this love and passion would be a great tool in guiding me to help all of you mold and move Bethlehem into the future. I truly believe the city is on the verge of a new era and there will be a lot of very hard issues to address but I feel I have the courage and drive to make the tough decisions and do the right thing for all the citizens of Bethlehem.
I have a long history of active service to the youth in the community. I have served as a Cub Scout den father. I have coached at Lehigh Little League since 1997. I have coached football with the Bethlehem Steelers since 1999 and served on their Board of Directors from 2001 to 2002. My wife and I are co - chairman of the Nitschmann Middle School Band and Orchestra Parents Food and Special Events Committee. I acted in Touchstone Theater's production of Steelbound in 1999. I am a six year volunteer at Celtic Fest serving as band steward and parade starter. I have volunteered at polling centers for various local candidates. I also attend many city council meetings.
My profession as a food broker keeps me in touch with a lot of people in Bethlehem and the surrounding region. I have a direct link to what issues are important to my customers and neighbors all over the city. I travel both the area and city on a daily basis and know first hand of the issues that are important to the electorate. I have learned and believe that listening as well as compromise will help move situations forward.
As far as my vision for the city, I feel controlled economic growth and a clear focus towards bringing jobs and investment to the community is what the city needs now. I feel the city is on the verge of prosperity which we haven't seen in a long time. It is essential that we attract these investments and nurture them to completion without compromising our community. I would like to be a part of that prosperity by aiding the growth without sacrificing the things that have made Bethlehem my home for the past 45 years.
I appreciate your consideration and would love to answer any questions you may have of me in regards to this letter of interest.”
Letter from Anthony E. Rybak – 408 Adams Street - Bethlehem PA 18015
“As per City Council's procedural requirements, I am declaring my intent to seek the appointment to the Bethlehem City Council vacancy which will occur when Councilman John Callahan is sworn in as Mayor in January, 2004. I have enclosed a copy of my current resume as required by City Council.
It is my understanding that all parties interested in this appointment will be allowed to address City Council prior to Council's vote on said appointment. Please let me know when this meeting will occur.
Please call me if you have any questions or concerns, or
if you require any further information at this time. Thank
you for your considerations."
Letter from David P. Sanders - 69 East Goepp Street - Bethlehem PA 18018
"I would like to apply for the appointment on Bethlehem
City Council replacing Councilman John Callahan. I understand
that this is a two-year appointment. Upon completion of this
appointment, it is my intention to seek re-election.”
Letter from Richard J. Szulborski – 669 Atlantic Street - Bethlehem PA 18015
"I wish to be considered to fill the upcoming vacancy on Bethlehem City Council. I previously served on Bethlehem City Council for 3 terms from 1984 through 1996.
My resume is enclosed for your review. I feel that my previous experience and knowledge of Bethlehem government will be an asset to City Council.
If you have any questions, please contact me. I look forward to the opportunity to meet with you.”
Presentations by Candidates for Vacant City Council Seat
President Schweder stated that he would recognize each of the candidates in alphabetical order to make a two to three minute presentation, after which Members of Council would be recognized to ask questions of each candidate.
David M. Beckwith, 360 Conestoga Street, explained his background, as follows: "I was born and raised in Lorain, Ohio, my father and mother were both school teachers, my father was also a part-time recreation director for Lorain. I graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and from Case Western Reserve Law School in Cleveland. After my graduation I had a clerkship with the chief judge of the sixth circuit court of appeals where we had such notables in the court as Sam Shepard, Jimmy Hoffa, and Colonel Sanders. I came to Bethlehem in the summer of 1970 when I joined the Bethlehem Steel law department, and I worked there until my retirement in January 2001 which is thirty and a half years of employment with Bethlehem Steel. During my career at Behtlehem Steel, I managed litigation, I was commercial counsel, and during the last six or seven years I was involved in a team of forming joint ventures and then participated in managing those joint ventures. Some of my friends think I'm crazy for doing this but I'm not on an ego trip. I'm not doing it for financial gain. I'm not doing it because I want to be a long term politician. I'm only doing it because I have the time and because I have a love for this City. I have three real interests in this City. One, I want to make sure that we have a viable and strong downtown. Secondly, I'd like to see the Bethlehem South Side project move along faster, and I'd like to see a museum up running sooner rather than later. And, now that the Governor is going to bring us some of our tax money on Monday, it looks like that's going to happen. I think that's a terrific thing. And, thirdly, you passed a $46 million budget which is your road map for this year. If I was on Council, I'd want to make sure that on the revenue side we're collecting every nickel that we're entitled to, and on the expense side that we're saving every nickel that we can. And, I would like to work with the Mayor's office in trying to save money. And, if that means combining the water and sewer department, …making a study, and saying that that makes sense, I'd be in favor of that. And, lastly, I'd like to say that I think you have a terrific slate of candidates. I think it's a tribute to you, and to Mayor Callahan, and to the City of Bethlehem that so many people are willing to serve. I think it's terrific for our City. And, I think that with my experience, my business background, and my ability to analyze problems which I had to do at Bethlehem Steel, I could make a great contribution to Council, and I therefore ask for your vote."
Mr. Mowrer asked Mr. Beckwith to name one unique thing about him that makes him different than any of the other candidates.
Mr. Beckwith replied probably his business experience. Mr.
"we're running a business here", said he has business experience with a big corporation and he thinks that is very important. Additionally saying also it is his ability to get along with people, Mr. Beckwith remarked he thinks "we need a good working relationship between Council and the Mayor's office."
Robert W. Bilheimer, 3282 Beaufort Drive, noted that, as Mayor Callahan said many times during his campaign and at his inaugural, "Bethlehem is at a pivotal point in its history. The actions we take as a City today in the next five to ten years are likely to have ramifications for us perhaps seventy and eighty years from now. I agree with that assessment. Our City is facing some crucial issues and we need new people with new ideas at City Hall to ensure that Bethlehem keeps moving in the right direction. Bethlehem is a special and unique place with much going for it. But there's a danger that if poor decisions are made now, we can start traveling down a very different path. City finances and economic development, especially going after develop[ment of] the Bethlehem Steel properties in South Bethlehem are at the top of that list. I fervently believe that we need people from outside City Hall and outside of City politics to bring fresh perspectives to these important issues. I believe that my blend of educational training, practical work experience, and community involvement makes me the ideal person to do just that. Of course, you all had my resume, but some of the important things I think that I'd like to point out are that I've got a business degree from Gettysburg College. I have an MBA from Lehigh University. I have formal business training. I spent twenty-five years in the private sector at Aetna Life and Casualty, twenty-two years at Bethlehem Steel, most recently as general manager of public affairs, and now at Air Products as manager of community and state government relations. I've spent virtually my entire career in government and community affairs. I understand this process. I know the players, I know the issues, I know how this works. But, as an outsider, I can bring fresh perspective to the process. But there will be a very, very small learning curve if you should appoint me to City Council. I'm involved in this community. I've always been involved in this community. I've grown up here. I've lived here my entire life. I've graduated from Bethlehem schools. I'm currently the president of Northeast Little League. I'm a former board member of the Bethlehem Tourism Authority…I served on the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission…, and I served on the Bethlehem 250th Anniversary celebration, and on the Laros Foundation, a charitable foundation here in Bethlehem. And, last but not least, I'm a member of the Bethlehem Rotary Club. I believe I can bring much to the table as a Councilman on these and other issues. Particularly, I possess a unique knowledge of and appreciation for the planned Bethlehem Works, Bethlehem Commerce Center, and National Museum for Industrial History projects. These projects represent a model for Brownfield development, and could be the crown jewel of Bethlehem's economic development plan. But, they must be done right. And, I…would help make that happen. But, as you know, above all this I think I have one overriding qualification for this position: a deep and abiding love for the City of Bethlehem, and a passion for serving the people who have made it great. Beyond that my philosophy…is simple: keep taxes down; two, provide essential services in a responsive and efficient way; three, help create and encourage a positive climate for responsible growth and investment; and, four, this is probably the most important, get out of the way. Government's job is not to create jobs. That only leads to bigger and more distrusted government and higher taxes. Rather, it's government's job to support, encourage and facilitate those that do. In addition, I think that I'm an ideal candidate for all of Bethlehem. Despite my professional interest in South Bethlehem, and the fact that I now live on the North side of town, I have lived in Historic Bethlehem, and I grew up in West Bethlehem…This brings me a unique perspective for all the citizens of our City, as it does the fact that I was a candidate in last fall's election for this body. Although unsuccessful, I demonstrated that as a first time candidate I can be a proven vote getter with both Republicans and Democrats throughout the City, and I think it demonstrates that, as a result of my campaign, I’m particularly close to the electorate and have the ability to have a current understanding of the needs and desires of the citizens. And, that's important." Commenting that is the end of his prepared text, Mr. Bilheimer said he would like to close with a personal note. Affirming that he is a Republican and the six Members of Council are Democrats, Mr. Bilheimer expressed that he understands the political realities of the situation. Mr. Bilheimer explained he is doing this because he wants to do this, he is committed to doing this, he loves the City, he thinks he can serve and is prepared to do that. Mr. Bilheimer, acknowledging that he has worked with the Members on community matters, communicated that the Members know the kind of person he is and what he stands for. Mr. Bilheimer highlighted the fact that he chose to stay in Bethlehem when he had to find a job after Bethlehem Steel Corporation ceased its operations in Bethlehem. Mr. Bilheimer said he would appreciate Council's support and vote and would be honored to serve with the Members of Council.
Mr. Mowrer asked what makes Mr. Bilheimer so uniquely different than the other fourteen candidates.
Mr. Bilheimer replied he thinks it is his involvement, breadth of involvement, and love for the City. Adding that he has been involved in many different facets in the City, Mr. Bilheimer continued on to say his family has been here, he has a passion for the City, and has the intangibles that make him much different and hopefully special in Council's eyes.
Ms. Szabo asked Mr. Bilheimer if after serving two years on Council he would run for City Council in 2005 for a full four year term.
Mr. Bilheimer, responding he would consider that, pointed out that he ran for a four year term this time, would keep his options open at this point, and would be inclined to continue on.
Michael C. Deschler, 512 North New Street, referring to a recent Morning Call editorial congratulating the City on being fortunate enough to have sixteen highly qualified people come forth to do this job, observed that as Council is aware it is often a thankless job. Mr. Deschler said he thinks it speaks well of the City that it has so many people coming forward. Mr. Deschler, commenting that in his mind Bethlehem has always had a different position in the Lehigh Valley than some of the other municipalities, said a lot of that is because of the way the government, City Council, and the Mayor's office works. Mr. Deschler recounted he was fortunate enough to serve as City Solicitor when Mr. Mowrer was interim Mayor and got to see how things worked. Mr. Deschler said what struck him most was the way that Council was able to get along with themselves and with the Mayor to work toward the common good of the City. Remarking that "frankly, we've gotten a little away from that recently", Mr. Deschler expressed the hope that "we can return to that because…we're all in this for one thing and that is for the good of the City. I've been fortunate enough to serve not only as City Solicitor for a year, but as Solicitor for the Parking Authority for ten years. So, I've put in eleven years working for the City. And, I have to tell you I really enjoyed it." Mr. Deschler, while pointing out that being the City Solicitor took up a lot of time, highlighted the fact that he learned so much, met many people, and it was a great experience. Mr. Deschler added that he enjoyed working for the Parking Authority. Mr. Deschler stressed that he enjoys City service. Mr. Deschler explained the reason he put himself up for the vacant seat was because he thinks it would be interesting, and he would enjoy working with people who do such a good job. Mr. Deschler continued on to say that his son asked him to do it for his Christmas present. Mr. Deschler asserted he feels very strongly that it is important that parents participate in things like this and added that he has voted in every election since he was eighteen years old except for one time. Noting "you have wonderful candidates here", Mr. Deschler said he thinks "anyone you select will do the job fine". Mr. Deschler encouraged the Members to come together and find one candidate on whom all can agree, and the Members of Council and the Mayor to work together and do what is best for the City.
Mr. Mowrer asked Mr. Deschler his number one uniqueness.
Mr. Deschler, responding he thinks that because of his work representing developers and opposing developers perhaps he has a better feel for development projects both pro and con, observed that one of the major matters before the City is developing some of its land.
Mr. Donchez asked what Mr. Deschler believes is Bethlehem's greatest strength.
Mr. Deschler replied the diversity of its people. Mr. Deschler, restating it is the diversity and the people in the City, said the City has a lot of energy as compared with and contrasted to other municipalities in the Lehigh Valley.
Ms. Szabo asked if Mr. Deschler serves for two years would he run for a four year term in 2005.
Mr. Deschler, replying he cannot say that he would, said it would depend on three things: if he enjoyed the job, if he thought he did a good job, and if the other Members of Council thought he did a good job. Mr. Deschler stated if all those three conditions were met yes he would.
David T. DiGiacinto, 135 East Wall Street, noted that he was born and raised in the City, graduated from Liberty High School, and graduated in 1975 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Mr. DiGiacinto continued on to state he was a pilot and commander in the Air Force for about six and a half years, resigned his commission in 1981 as a captain, and flew commercially for one year after that. For the next twenty-two and a half years Mr. DiGiacinto worked at Pfizer and Spencer Trask. Upon returning to the Lehigh Valley in 1997, Mr. DiGiacinto was engaged in several community and civic affairs, is a member of the Historical Board, Inc., the Boys Club, and the Bethlehem Authority. Mr. DiGiacinto was appointed Chairman of the Route 412 Advocacy Committee two years ago and serves in that role at this point. Mr. DiGiacinto advised that his management experience has been at various levels in a few different types of organizations. In summarizing his people skills, Mr. DiGiacinto said he has worked with and managed individuals of varied cultural backgrounds and skill levels. Mr. DiGiacinto stated he believes this is important because it highlights his ability to work with people or manage committees through all types of situations. Mr. DiGiacinto said he believes "this to be a characteristic that someone in the role of City Council should have." Mr. DiGiacinto informed the Members that from a financial perspective he has had "many years of experience formulating budgets and forecasts. I've also had to interpret and achieve them along the way, and I've also had to deal with the consequence of underachievement. My most recent two occupations working for a large corporation and investment banking operation have provided me with a vast experience in negotiating deals, investing funds, sitting on boards, and both acquiring and divesting companies and business assets. I feel my financial experience would be a big plus in assisting the City going forward both fiscally and growth wise, particularly in this very important transitional period. So, why am I doing this. I know the City, I grew up here, I've been back in the City proper since 1999, I've gradually worked my way both back into civic and community organizations. I felt that during the past four years I had the opportunity to survey the City landscape, get a better understanding of the issues, and make myself feel comfortable enough with my time management so I can properly serve. I personally have been fueled energy-wise by my time spent on the Bethlehem Authority Board, and I feel I can contribute likewise to the City's future as a Member of Council. However, tonight is not just about me and the other prospective candidates. It is about you the Council, and the process of election. I assume the process will work tonight, and you select the right person for the right reasons. The taxpayers of the City deserve it. To summarize, I wouldn't be here tonight if I did not feel my enthusiasm and desire to take on this responsibility was authentic and an outgrowth of my own individuality. I know you recognize as a group what a serious civic duty is represented here tonight, and I wish you all the best in the selection process."
Mr. Mowrer asked what Mr. DiGiacinto considers his uniqueness that makes him different than everyone else.
Mr. DiGiacinto responded "I think my background shows that I know how to follow and I know how to lead."
Ms. Szabo inquired if Mr. DiGiacinto serves for this two year term would he run for a full four year term in 2005.
Mr. DiGiacinto replied "yes I would."
Mr. Donchez queried what Mr. DiGiacinto believes is Bethlehem's greatest strength.
Mr. DiGiacinto stated "its resiliency is probably its greatest strength. There's been a lot of issues over the last several years, but people move on, people go on, the City moves forward."
President Schweder informed the assembly that William M. Fitzpatrick notified the City Clerk's Office that he was unable to be present this evening because he is out of state on work. However, President Schweder advised that Mr. Fitzpatrick provided a video tape presentation.
The video tape presentation of William M. Fitzpatrick, 732 Center Street, follows:
"I'm Bill Fitzpatrick and I proudly submit my application to you for your consideration to fill the vacancy on City Council. I apologize for not being able to be with you live. However, I'm currently serving at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Atlanta, Georgia. Particularly, I would like to thank President Schweder for his understanding and cooperation in that regard in permitting me this opportunity. I've written before you my qualifications primarily as a life long resident of the City of Bethlehem. I've lived at 732 Center Street…my entire life and I've therefore seen the many changes that have occurred in our wonderful City, both good and bad. We're faced with many challenges as well as a rich heritage, and I would anticipate and look forward to the challenges of dealing with them along with you as a team member on your Council, but also in cooperation with the wonderful staff that we have at City Hall and with the Administration. I would strongly emphasize community policing because I've been a very active member of the block watch. I would look for other areas in which we could partner because I firmly believe that the citizens of Bethlehem can very adequately or in many cases even positively supplement what we currently do with our existing staffing. I think we have other key issues such as the continuing development of the former Bethlehem Steel property, how we are going to handle our water supply and market it, how we might create additional free parking for customers who would come down and patronize the various businesses that we would have in our current downtown business area, as well as creating a very positive business atmosphere that would attract potential employers to Bethlehem because I feel that by doing so we would best serve the citizens of Bethlehem by giving them good employment opportunities. I note with great pride that you've recently addressed in your budget hearings the need to upgrade our high-tech end of our services, and I would strongly encourage that we continue to do that in the belief that it will yield great dividends and return as well as a payback in terms of more efficient and perhaps reduced staff. I have arranged for a phone conference call for you to direct any questions or issues to me following this video presentation, and I welcome those issues. More than anything, I welcome the opportunity to be a part of your team as well as to work strongly with you, the other agencies and groups in the City of Bethlehem to make our City better. I believe I present to you the quality that will best serve the needs of Bethlehem. I respectfully ask for your support for my candidacy."
President Schweder stated there is not the capability in the building to make the interactive telephone call as Mr. Fitzpatrick requested.
Patrick A. Herrity, 732 Hawthorne Road, recounted that in the past he has spoken to the Members of Council about how his experiences with a number of local organizations and committees have given him a broader understanding of the problems and potential within our cities. Mr. Herrity said, rather than repeat himself, he would speak to several policy issues that concern him. Mr. Herrity stated that, while he is "cognizant of the fact that in the strong Mayor form of government the Administration for the most part proposes and Council disposes, these are issues given the opportunity I would support. Our parks system is our most visible element that the City controls. It says to new arrivals and visitors much about how we feel about ourselves as a community. I feel it deserves more attention. I would vote for more support for the City directly in an expansion of the neighborhood park associations where there is interest. An adopt a park program may be particularly useful seeing that the Parks and Public Property Department will undoubtedly have the added responsibility of maintaining a greenway through South Bethlehem. Traffic calming techniques that would improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists in the more urban areas of the City would have my support. I feel that Bethlehem should be viewed as a destination, not as a shortcut, from one area of the Valley to another. Any efforts that would get people out of their cars and walking in the two downtowns would certainly benefit our retail businesses. Ten years ago, Bethlehem seemingly had no vision. Today, thanks to the City's renewed commitment to our downtowns, and the recent creation of the South Bethlehem Historical Conservation District, along with Bethlehem Works, the Historic Bethlehem Partnership, and others, a vibrant vision has evolved. Unfortunately, our Comprehensive Plan reflects none of this. Created over ten years ago and almost immediately shelved as irrelevant, this valuable planning tool for a zoned community is in sore need of an update. Barring support for that I would encourage the Administration to continue the pragmatic piecemeal approach to rezoning that separates zoning from site plan review. I would hope they would continue to identify areas in transition much as they did with the Light Industrial areas along East Broad Street, and bring zoning changes to Council's attention long before the emotionality of a specific projects develops. Finally, while the next two years would certainly be an exciting time to be a Member of Council, I am aware that sound budgeting practices are a must. Most business development being planned today won't be paying its full weight in taxes for another ten years. While tax dollars must be invested now to reap dividends in the future, we must spend prudently looking for the most bang for the buck."
Mr. Mowrer asked Mr. Herrity what is his uniqueness.
Mr. Herrity responded that he does not think it is a uniqueness but is "something that reflects everyone here: we all love the City."
Mr. Donchez asked what Mr. Herrity thinks is Bethlehem's greatest strength.
Mr. Herrity replied its diversity and its resiliency. Mr. Herrity added "I think we have a great future ahead of us."
Mrs. Belinski stated that Mr. Herrity's uniqueness is that for fourteen years he has attended City Council Meetings.
Ms. Szabo inquired whether Mr. Herrity would run in 2005 for a full four year term.
Mr. Herrity responded that if the Members of Council felt he did a good job he certainly would.
Kenneth M. Kraft, 2337 East Boulevard, said he is standing before City Council this evening because he believes his unique talents can help the team that will write the next chapter in Bethlehem’s proud history. Mr. Kraft recounted that his family’s roots were planted in Bethlehem in the late 1800’s. Mr. Kraft continued on to relate that he was graduated from Freedom High School, he joined the Marine Corps where he worked for the National Security Agency as a cryptologist, was a supervisor for the Pacific Rim, and was rated a top secret security clearance. After being honorably discharged, Mr. Kraft returned to Bethlehem. He was appointed by then Mayor Ken Smith to the Monocacy Creek Committee and he was involved in the walkway where the bird sanctuary is located. He and his wife then raised two boys, and he pursued making his living. Mr. Kraft said during the ensuing years, he was recruited to other firms, one of which he has worked for nearly a decade. Mr. Kraft informed the Members that he prepared budgets, supervised projects, prepared bids, negotiated contracts, and maintained client relationships. Three years ago, Mr. Kraft was elected for a full-time position as business representative for IUPAT. The job entails managing the balance between members, business owners, project managers, local and state government officials, coordinating all communications, ensuring compliance issues, and keeping it all running smoothly. Mr. Kraft, saying his personal values are built on hard work, communicated this hard work and the ability to manage finances and budgets has been acknowledged when he was appointed to the board of trustees of a multi-million dollar annuity, health and welfare fund. Mr. Kraft said it is also evident in the way he conducts his life and a value Council can count on as a member of the team entrusted to build a better Bethlehem. Mr. Kraft stressed he can promise boundless energy to help make new ideas work, such as tax abatement to attract new businesses, supporting the ISG/Delaware Valley Real Estate Trust deal to optimize the next incarnation of the former Bethlehem Steel mills, to continue the revitalization of South Side Bethlehem, and to safeguard the environment. He enumerated other ideas such as optimizing technology, using the Internet for faster permitting procedures, on-line payments of water and tax bills, permit fees and other revenue streams. Mr. Kraft advised that he would work together with Mayor Callahan and Council to shape the future of Bethlehem “with our hands, our heads, and our hearts.” Mr. Kraft further said “I humbly ask you tonight for the chance to show you the difference I can make as a member of the team, and promise you a comparable commitment of my time, my experience, and my love of Bethlehem to achieve our goals.”
Mr. Mowrer asked Mr. Kraft, “why you and not somebody else who’s here tonight.”
Mr. Kraft responded because he does not “have any special agenda, and I just want to serve our City to the best of my ability.”
Mr. Donchez inquired what Mr. Kraft believes is the greatest challenge facing the City.
Mr. Kraft replied the greatest challenge is getting the South Side project going. While acknowledging a piece was put together today, Mr. Kraft said “we have a lot more areas to work on. I’d love to see some kind of mass transit coming back to the City so we can get to New York…, to Philadelphia and other places [and] make us the hub that we are or that we should be. We have a lot of potential here.”
Ms. Szabo queried whether Mr. Kraft would run in 2005 for a full four year term.
Mr. Kraft said if Council felt he did a good job, he would definitely run.
Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., 70 East Broad Street, stated there are four things he believes he would bring to Council if he were selected for the vacancy: first, an unparalled level of experience; second, integrity; third, commitment; and fourth, “I’m a known quantity.” Mr. Leeson explained and elaborated on each point. Focusing on experience, Mr. Leeson denoted that for the last twelve years he has attended every City Council meeting, knows City government inside and out, knows its strengths and weaknesses. Mr. Leeson continued on to say he knows the issues and the challenges that the City is facing. “There will be no learning curve or need to get up to speed if I’m selected for this position.” Turning to integrity, Mr. Leeson communicated that he believes he has earned a reputation as City Solicitor for being conscientious, for having an eye for detail, for exercising sound judgment, for sincerity, and candor. Stressing that he took his responsibilities very seriously, Mr. Leeson continued on to say he “insisted that all of those who worked with me did likewise. Third point, commitment. I was born here in Bethlehem, raised here, lived here all my life. My wife and I have chosen to raise our five children here in Bethlehem. I maintain my private practice of the law on East Broad Street. I’ve made a strong personal commitment, not only to the City over the years, but also to Bethlehem as a community. I believe the City’s best days are ahead of us, and I’d like to help work with you to chart a course for the future. And, finally, the fourth point, is I’m a known quantity. And what do I mean by that. I think all of those who know me know that in my twelve years of City government that I acted and conducted myself as a professional, and as a gentleman, and that I treated everyone, including every single citizen, no matter what they said or what they did, every single citizen was treated with respect, and given a frank and honest answer. So, let me close by saying that I have a strong belief in the future of our City, I’d like to participate in helping to chart the course for the future, and I ask for your support for the vacancy.”
Mr. Mowrer asked if at any time Mr. Leeson thinks it would be a disadvantage for him to come in knowing as much as he does and having the experience that he has.
Mr. Leeson, replying no, said he thinks just the opposite. Mr. Leeson explained that he thinks one of the responsibilities of a City Council Member is to exercise legislative oversight. Mr. Leeson stated that “frequently, complex proposals, complex ideas will be brought forth by the Administration, and a person who has experience, a person who knows City government, knows its strengths and its weaknesses, I think brings something to the table that elevates the level of judgment, the level of evaluation, the level of scrutiny, and helps focus the process in bringing the decision to whatever is going to be the right outcome. So, I think it’s an advantage.”
Mr. Donchez asked what Mr. Leeson believes is Bethlehem’s greatest challenge.
Mr. Leeson responded the Bethlehem Commerce Center and Bethlehem Works. Mr. Leeson, noting that thankfully there has been good news about the Bethlehem Commerce Center in particular over the last few days, which is something that has been worked on for years, pointed out it is going to take years to really produce the kind of successes that have been talked about. Mr. Leeson continued on to note, it is going to take a joint effort on the part of the City, the part of the State, and the part of private developers to make that work. But, he said, that is where the future of the City is, the property on the South Side. Mr. Leeson, acknowledging that is the greatest challenge, added it is also the greatest opportunity.
Ms. Szabo asked Mr. Leeson if he will run in 2005 for a full four year term.
Mr. Leeson replied yes.
John D. Lychak, 35 East Elizabeth Avenue, said he is a lifelong resident of Bethlehem and was born and raised in the City. Mr. Lychak noted he attended college and law school in Boston, and returned to Bethlehem in 1991. Since then, he practiced law and eventually established his own law firm. Mr. Lychak stated he has also been busy the last fourteen years volunteering his time in community services and activities, and civic groups. Most recently, he has been on the board of Family and Counseling Services of the Lehigh Valley, is serving as secretary, and serving on the board of Historic Bethlehem. Mr. Lychak advised he recently has been appointed vice president for Historic Bethlehem, and also served as treasurer of the organization. Mr. Lychak communicated that, “with the exception of some volunteer work I did for Senator Kerry back in 1990, I really can’t offer the Council any political experience. But, what I can offer is my experience as a lawyer which I think would be an asset to the Council, my experience as a business person, my operational and leadership experience I’ve attained working with these community organizations and civic organizations. And, I guess most importantly my dedication and commitment to the City and to the preservation of its history. And, I think that’s going to be a very important issue that many of the candidates have already raised. I’m also interested, obviously, in the development of the City, and I think that those two can go hand in hand, as has been evident from what Historic Bethlehem has done and what can be accomplished on the South Side. And, I think that’s going to be a very important issue to make sure that the National Museum becomes a reality, and I’d like to work towards making that happen, and also having a voice of Historic Bethlehem, and historic ideals of this City on Council.”
Mr. Mowrer asked “why you and not the other candidates here tonight.”
Mr. Lychak responded he thinks what sets him apart is his experience with Historic Bethlehem, and his dedication to the heritage of the City which is very important, has made Bethlehem what it is, and is going to make it what it can be in the future. Mr. Lychak thought this is something that he can contribute to Council that perhaps others do not have the experience with.
Ms. Szabo inquired if Mr. Lychak would run for a full four year term in 2005.
Mr. Lychak replied “absolutely”.
Mr. Donchez asked what Mr. Lychak believes is Bethlehem’s greatest strength.
Mr. Lychak, replying it is the heritage, said “that’s what’s made Bethlehem a jewel”. Communicating that Bethlehem set itself out among the Lehigh Valley communities and eastern Pennsylvania, Mr. Lychak thought that Bethlehem’s heritage is why people come here and felt it is important to make sure that is preserved for future generations, and is incorporated into future development.
Thomas E. Mohr, 1006 Prospect Avenue, said he has “known every one of you, and had the pleasure of working with you. I think my involvement in the City of Bethlehem speaks for itself. My involvement here in this hallowed chamber, in my election twice to sit in these seats speaks for itself, so I’m going to spare you those details. But, I am going to share with you one of the most exciting things that I’ve ever done in my life. And, that is the fact for the last seven years I’ve been privileged to be a charter member of the board that has put together the Lehigh Valley charter high school for performing arts. I had served on that board for the last four years as board president. Concurrently, I am its director of development and facility. And, after seven years of hard work…when those 300 students came in the school on September 8th of last year I cried. What a great feeling of accomplishment. And, I have kind of done that everywhere I have gone in this City. And, this City and its greatest resource is the people that it has been able to put together to lead it to its future and to where we are today. And, I strongly want to be a part of that team again. I think I have established myself with my work ethic, and diligence as I have served City Council in the past. It is about people, it’s not about politics…I think I bring a great deal of assets to this committee, to this council, and to the City, and I have done that consistently throughout my lifetime here. But, it’s about needing you Democrats to come forward and recognize the talent that the people have, and the track record that people bring to you. And, I appeal to you and encourage you to step forward and select me as your City Council representative.”
Mr. Mowrer asked what makes Mr. Mohr so unique.
Mr. Mohr replied “my communication skills…I’m able to communicate with people. I’m able to find out the answers. I’m able to find out what the citizens of Bethlehem want and need. And, I’m able to get it done.”
Ms. Szabo asked if Mr. Mohr would run for a full four year term in 2005.
Mr. Mohr responded “I need to have fun. I need to realize the challenge and have success in that challenge, and I think I can do that. But, I’ve also, in the past, as you know, in 1998, I stepped away from this body. I wanted to do something that I wanted to do that offered me a different challenge to give me an opportunity to fulfill my life. I love this City, and I’m very devoted to it…And, yes, I would look forward to serve this City, and I’ve missed it the last couple of years quite frankly.”
Mr. Donchez asked what Mr. Mohr believes is the greatest challenge facing the City.
Mr. Mohr replied “the challenge facing our City is the vision and the people running it. We need to move forward. We need to forget the past, and we need to take advantage of what’s here. You’ve heard that we have the largest Brownfield reclamation site in the nation. It needs to be turned over, and we need to bring every energy we have. It represents 25% of our land mass in the City. It is the future of this City. If we don’t turn it into tax jobs as quickly as we can, you already know what that means and where we are.”
Vincent M. Paden, 521 Ninth Avenue, said what he is asking for tonight is to “consider me for the position of City Council. Some of you are very familiar with me over the past couple of years, my attendance at meetings, and my involvement in certain areas of what’s going on in the West side of Bethlehem. Mr. Paden stated, first, he would like to bring to Council’s attention, and noted he thought it was already taken care of, that his party affiliation was incorrectly reported in the Morning Call. Mr. Paden advised that he was born and raised in northeast Bethlehem, educated in the Bethlehem school system, and he holds an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America. Mr. Paden noted he resides with his wife and son in West Bethlehem, and has a long history of community service to the youth in Bethlehem. Mr. Paden enumerated that he served as a Cub Scouts den leader at Sts. Simon and Jude for three years, coached at Lehigh Little League since 1997, coached football with the Bethlehem Steelers since 1999, and served on the board of directors from 2001 to 2002. Mr. Paden stated he is also a volunteer at Celtic Fest, and a band steward, and added he performed in Steelbound in 1999. Mr. Paden commented he has volunteered at polling centers for candidates, enjoys attending Council meetings, is an active member of the Bethlehem YMCA, the Bethlehem Wanderers AA, and the Jefferson Democratic Club. Mr. Paden informed the Members that currently he is a broker involved in food sales and marketing, and has daily contact with small and large hospitality and food service businesses throughout the Lehigh Valley area and eastern Pennsylvania, with a heavy emphasis on customer service and sales. Mr. Paden, focusing on what he can contribute as a Member of Council, said he “can bring…a genuine passion and verve, and a genuine interest in doing what’s best for all the citizens of Bethlehem. I hope to bring fresh ideas and outlooks as to how Council can become more involved and accessible to the community. I will propose that every fourth month Council meetings take place in different areas of the City…I think it would be nice to go out and take what you people do and the decisions that affect the taxpayers to the taxpayers. I will do whatever I can to make City government more accountable, more open and accessible and user friendly for all of the citizens of Bethlehem. I would advocate broadening the tax base of Bethlehem, and control growth of the local economy. Our goal as a Council should be to attract potential businesses to Bethlehem and be an asset to those businesses and assist them in any way that we can, not a stumbling block. We have local laws and ordinances in place that make sure that anyone who wants to do business in Bethlehem fully knows what standards our community expects from them. We need not to fear who wants to do business in Bethlehem because we control the process from the start to the finish. Priority should be given to the start of the Eighth Avenue corridor redevelopment. The project must be moved forward. Development of the Durkee site could bring in upwards of $800,000 per year into the City budget and improve the local tax base. In regards to the development of the Steel property, besides today’s good news, we cannot ever forget what Bethlehem was. But we can’t afford to keep both eyes looking backwards either. We must be open to any and all possible acceptable uses for the Steel property. We can have it all. We can honor the past. We can honor the legacy of the Steel. But we owe it to our future generations not to have a tunnel vision for a plan that has been basically dormant for the last few years. We must stop waiting for development to happen. We must aggressively move forward with a vision for the future on that property. I will look forward to the opportunity to serve on Council. I have seen you all perform under some very difficult circumstances, and I admire those of you who have risen above it. I witnessed it personally, and I commend you. I want to help you do what’s best for all the citizens of Bethlehem over the next two years, and I would appreciate your consideration, and an opportunity.”
Mr. Mowrer queried “why you and not one of the other fourteen.”
Mr. Paden replied “because I am the every man. I am the taxpayers of the City of Bethlehem. I have no agenda other than the service to my City, my neighborhood, and my family, and my taxpayers.”
Ms. Szabo asked if Mr. Paden would run for a full four year term in 2005.
Mr. Paden responded he would look to evaluate that in two years. Mr. Paden remarked he knows this town, he has lived here all his life, and his constituents will tell him if they want him to run for another term or not.
Mr. Donchez inquired what Mr. Paden feels is Bethlehem’s greatest strength.
Mr. Paden replied that the greatest strength in Bethlehem is the people themselves. Mr. Paden commented he is frankly amazed at the turnout for this position and he thinks all should be very honored and very proud at the quality, the diversity, and the depth of the character of the persons applying for the position when a true sense of community spirit is the only thing it has to offer.
Anthony E. Rybak, 408 Adams Street, commented there are several reasons why he is the best choice for this position. Mr. Rybak, saying that “first, this appointment should be awarded to someone who has recently run for a City office”, recounted that he ran for Mayor in the Democratic primary. Continuing on to note that although he was unsuccessful, Mr. Rybak stated he “brought many important issues up during my campaign, several of which were adopted by other candidates. I was also the only candidate who was able to get all the parties to agree on anything; namely, the need for a series of debates. That may seem like a small thing now, but if you will remember the tenure of the primary it’s actually a big accomplishment. I should also mention that I decided to run for Mayor instead of Council because it was an open seat and I didn’t see any Council Members conduct that warranted a run against an incumbent. I have a diverse work history. I’ve worked at Schoenen’s supermarket, I worked both maintenance and as a toll collector on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I’ve worked several construction positions including materials, inspections,…and as an electrician. I’ve been a bartender, a prep cook, a pizza man, a grill man, a security officer, a package store clerk, a host, a tour guide,…assembler,…and delivery person. I’ve been a licensed attorney for the last five years, and I’ve also been appointed a neutral arbitrator on several occasions. Having worked so many different jobs gives me a unique perspective and empathy for those who have difficulty making it through their day to day lives. I’ve also been unemployed at times. I’ve been faced with the loss of more than one job, and I know [what] this can cost. It was, in fact, the loss of a job in late 1990 which forced me to move out of State to seek employment. While I was lucky enough to be able to both find work and complete my education during my time away from Bethlehem, it broke my heart to leave. I’ve been involved in community service since I was a small child. My father instilled in all his children the belief that you have the duty to help those less fortunate than you. That’s why I volunteered for many organizations in my life and why I will continue to do so as long as I am able. I believe it is incumbent on those in the public eye to encourage everyone to give back to the community in any way they can. I also have a good understanding of the problems facing the elderly. I’m lucky enough to have the time to spend in the health and care for my parents. Many elderly people have no one to assist them and feel helpless. It’s important to give these individuals who spent their lives helping to make this City great a feeling of worth and belonging, and to address their needs and concerns. Now, the problems that face Bethlehem are many and diverse. The story about the redevelopment of the Bethlehem Steel site in today’s paper makes me wonder exactly what will happen on the site, and whose hands will be out looking for the profits. After the money that was spent on the recent Mayor’s race, it’s important to watch out for local payback from big campaign contributors. Perhaps it’s awkward to bring up this point. But, if you followed my mayoral campaign at all, you know I’m not averse to asking the tough questions, especially when the future of our City is at stake. Another major problem is the state that South Bethlehem is in, not the retail areas, or the streets where Lehigh students, their parents, and alumni frequent, but the neighborhoods where the citizens live and raise their children. Something must be done to try to involve these individuals in the process of City government to bring them into the fold, and to try to improve their quality of life. If I had a nickel for every South Side resident who told me something to the effect of we don’t matter, or nobody cares about the neighborhoods over here, well I’d have a campaign war chest to rival ‘Big D. Big’…I know that Councilwoman Szabo has been a strong advocate for the South Side, but I also know that it’s difficult for her sometimes to get around now, and I could fill the gap. Finally, the most important reason for you to appoint me to this position is I love Bethlehem. That’s why I ran for Mayor, and that’s why I’m seeking this position. I know I’m a long shot for this nomination, but anybody who’s ever placed a bet knows it’s the long shot that pays off big. I respectfully request your appointment to this position.”
Mr. Mowrer asked “why you and not any of the other candidates here tonight.”
Mr. Rybak responded “in law school they teach you to think like a lawyer. What that meant to me is it taught me how to look at problems from all sides and try and find the best solution. I think that coupled with the fact that I don’t have a problem admitting when I’m wrong, and taking a step back and apologizing…makes me the best candidate.”
Ms. Szabo commented “get on City Council, Tony, and you’ll find out how well I can get around.” Ms. Szabo inquired whether Mr. Rybak would run for a full four year term in 2005.
Mr. Rybak replied “barring a gubernatorial appointment to Jack Panella’s vacant county judgeship, yes.”
Mr. Donchez queried what Mr. Rybak thinks is Bethlehem’s greatest challenge.
Mr. Rybak responded it is obviously the redevelopment of the Steel site, and oversight of that. Mr. Rybak, observing a lot of people think or say that government should be run like a business, said “that’s wrong. Government isn’t a business. Government is there to serve. With that in mind, that kind of oversight needs to be taken on that Brownfield redevelopment, and that’s the biggest challenge.”
David P. Sanders, 69 East Goepp Street, said “as…a business owner in the City of Bethlehem for over sixteen years I think that my business experience alone gives me the honor to be here tonight. When I bought Lump’s Deli sixteen years ago, I remortgaged a house, sold two cars, and was in debt beyond my wildest dreams. Tonight as I stand here before you, my son now owns the house that I remortgaged, Lump’s Deli is paid for, including every candy bar, every key, and every light bulb. And, that’s something I’m very proud of at the age of 54…[and] coming into this City with just a high school education. We have a budget at Lump’s Deli. It’s my responsibility to make sure that that budget is taken good care of. My daughter runs the store with me. We both sit down at the end of every month. We go over a budget. We are now working on next year’s budget because in next year’s budget, just like the City of Bethlehem, we must be State certified to make sandwiches. We must pay insurance. Our insurance next year is guaranteed to double, every insurance. This is a concern. This is a concern with the City of Bethlehem, I’m sure. Next year before City Council you’re going to be faced with tough insurance problems. Upgrades. We’ve upgraded Lump’s Deli a hundred percent. When I bought my store it was run down, with wire that was inadequate, and I believe the City had sixteen violations against me. Today my store is completely up to code. It’s air conditioned, and it’s self-sufficient. I left Everson Electric Company after working for them for seventeen years. I started there as a laborer, to a truck driver. When I left there I was a maintenance supervisor guaranteeing to make sure every two hundred and fifty employees had to work every hour of the day, and that building was up and running. I was responsible for ordering every piece of equipment. While working there, I worked indirectly with MIT on superconductor coils. Million dollar contracts, it was my job to make sure every roll of tape, every nut and bolt was bought and paid for, and at the end of that contract we got what we paid for. I think I can bring new ideas to the City of Bethlehem. I’ve been a landlord. When I bought Lump’s Deli, it came with five tenants. Two of those tenants are still with me sixteen years later. Two are passed away and their children now live with me in the building. My tenants are satisfied. They have renters insurance. They have the best landlord. I think they’ll speak for that. We make sure our [tenants] are comfortable, we make sure our tenants have heat. I don’t think there’s ever been a time that the City had to come in and talk to me about being a landlord. I think being a landlord can give me some great quality and help the City Council with landlord tenant problems. In the next few years, I think the City’s going to lose a lot revenue at our ice skating rink. We’re going to have to look for ways to promote our ice skating rink. I think as a businessman I can promote that. As I came before Council Meetings many a night and spoke my peace, and I’ve listened, some of the biggest problems is inner City. I live inner City every day. I walk downtown and meet my wife at Firemen’s Fund, one of our newest buildings in the City of Bethlehem. Not a day goes by that I’m not inner City. I actually work on the corner as a school crossing guard, getting to know the children, and all the neighbors. One of the concerns [was] that nobody wanted to cross the children at my corner because it didn’t pay enough. I opted to volunteer to do that job, can’t volunteer, so I’ve been a crossing guard to make sure I got to know the children, make sure every parent knows me. If little Janie or Michael is late for school, they can actually call the Deli, were they there yet, yep, they’re on the way…One of our biggest problems is our watershed. We have hired somebody, but I think we can do more, and I think it would be a very simple solution. One of the fresh ideas I would bring would be to bring cameras to our watershed. Pennsylvania has a website that you can dial right on and look at all your State parks, and I think with a little convincing we can get right on to that. How nice would it be for our newest watershed ranger to be able to patrol that property, all of it, at the click of a finger. We have an amazing technology today, and I think we can use it. In closing, I would just like to thank everybody for their time. I think Maggie Szabo said it best a couple weeks back, this is the only job you pay for, and I have paid for it. I think I ran a good campaign, I’ve gotten to know people on City Council, I consider them my friends. I also came to the meetings for three and a half years…So I paid for this position for the time away from my family, and I think if anybody knows me, my family is my most important part of my life…I would like this opportunity to serve on City Council. I was a candidate…, and I will certainly be back to help City Council progress.”
Mr. Mowrer queried why Mr. Sanders and not one of the other candidates.
Mr. Sanders responded by relating a story that he told a few nights ago. About ten years ago, Lump’s Deli was not doing fine, and he stocked it with empty boxes to maintain an image. Mr. Sanders continued on to emphasize that, as he has stated, years later everything was paid for, and all the boxes are full. One of Mr. Sanders’ friends said to him: “we need you on City Council.” Mr. Sanders remarked that he feels he can solve any problem, and that is what makes him unique.
Ms. Szabo questioned whether Mr. Sanders is going to run in 2005.
Mr. Sanders replied absolutely.
Mr. Donchez inquired what Mr. Sanders thinks is Bethlehem’s greatest strength.
Mr. Sanders replied he thinks the greatest strength is the volunteers, the quality of the volunteers, and the people who live in the City.
Richard J. Szulborski, 669 Atlantic Street, noted he has “had the honor of being elected by the citizens of Bethlehem to serve on City Council for three terms from 1984 to 1996. One of the first questions I asked myself when I thought about…this position being open is why do I want to come back on City Council. Well, the answer was easy. Like Tom Mohr said, ‘I miss it’. I love Bethlehem, and I want to again be part of the group that helps shape Bethlehem’s future. I believe in community service like many of the other gentlemen this evening. I have served and continue to serve on many community organizations. For over twenty years, I chaired Bethlehem’s birthday celebration, the Christmas City Fair. I’ve served on the Fine Arts Commission, the Library Board, I’ve chaired the Recreation Commission, and the Tourism Authority. I believe serving on City Council is the ultimate form of community service. My philosophy on City Council was always to judge each idea or proposal on its own merits, and vote for what was in the best interests of the citizens of Bethlehem, and not on personalities or who proposed it. I believe my knowledge and experience in Bethlehem government will be an asset to City Council. I humbly ask for your support this evening.”
Mr. Mowrer, commenting that Mr. Szulborski has had the opportunity to listen to everyone say why them and what their uniquenesses are, asked what uniquenesses make Mr. Szulborski different, and why him instead of the others who also love this community and have been active in the community.
Mr. Szulborski replied he thinks his knowledge and experience as a realtor gives him a valuable insight into Bethlehem’s neighborhoods, and especially its housing stock.
Ms. Szabo queried if Mr. Szulborski would run for a full four year term.
Mr. Szulborski responded he would run for a full term.
Mr. Donchez asked what Mr. Szulborski thinks is Bethlehem’s greatest strength.
Mr. Szulborski replied that he, too, believes Bethlehem’s greatest strength is its people. Communicating that people talk about taking pride in the quality of life that is enjoyed in Bethlehem, Mr. Szulborski stressed “we have people who care about their community. The volunteers, the many people we have in this community who volunteer to serve on our various boards and commissions, our festivals, and our non-profit organizations make Bethlehem great and it’s our greatest strength.”
Filling Vacant City Council Seat
President Schweder, affirming that concludes the presentations
by the fourteen candidates, confirmed what is before City
Council now is the Resolution to fill the current vacancy
on City Council. President Schweder asked Christopher Spadoni,
City Council Solicitor, to confirm the number of votes necessary
to fill the vacant City Council seat, and the procedure for
Attorney Spadoni, advising the number of votes necessary is a majority of the remaining Members of Council, that being six Members of Council, stated the number necessary will be four. Attorney Spadoni noted it is his understanding, and he has cleared this with the Chair, that the procedure will be that the nominations will be taken until a vote of four is attained, and that the nominee with the least amount of votes will be removed from consideration.
President Schweder stated that the Chair at this point would accept nominations from Members of Council for anyone to be placed in nomination for this vote and that nomination requires a second in order for it to be considered as part of the ballot.
Mr. Donchez thanked all the people who submitted their names and added he, too, was surprised by the large number of candidates. Mr. Donchez, continuing on to say he thinks there is a very strong and diverse field of candidates, observed that, obviously, this is not an easy decision.
Mr. Donchez placed the name of Joseph Leeson into nomination. Mr. Donchez stated it is his belief that Mr. Leeson has served the City well over the past twelve years, and has the experience and knowledge to tackle issues immediately. Mr. Donchez said Mr. Leeson is a person of integrity, and a person with a great commitment, and love of Bethlehem. Mrs. Belinski seconded the Mr. Donchez’s motion.
Mr. Arcelay commented that, in listening to tonight’s presentations, the diversity of background is very strong from both the administrative and serving ends. Expressing that he values both very highly, Mr. Arcelay said it is a very hard choice to pick one.
Mr. Arcelay nominated David Sanders. Ms. Szabo seconded Mr. Arcelay's motion.
Mr. Mowrer nominated Michael Deschler. Ms. Szabo seconded Mr. Mowrer's motion.
President Schweder nominated David DiGiacinto. Ms. Szabo seconded President Schweder's motion.
Mr. Donchez moved to close the nominations. Mr. Mowrer seconded the motion.
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The motion passed.
President Schweder asked the Clerk to read the names of those candidates who have been properly nominated.
The Clerk read the names, as follows: Michael Deschler, David DiGiacinto, Joseph Leeson, and David Sanders.
President Schweder advised that the Clerk will call the roll,
and each Member of Council will be asked to designate their
selected candidate by stating the name, after the Council
Member’s name is called in the roll call.
Mr. Arcelay stated the name of Mr. Sanders. Mrs. Belinski stated the name of Mr. Leeson. Mr. Donchez stated the name of Mr. Leeson. Mr. Mowrer stated the name of Mr. Deschler. Ms. Szabo stated the name of Mr. Leeson. Mr. Schweder stated the name of Mr. DiGiacinto.
President Schweder confirmed the tally of votes, as follows: one vote for Mr. Deschler, one vote for Mr. DiGiacinto, three votes for Mr. Leeson, and one vote for Mr. Sanders.
President Schweder stated it would be the Chair’s ruling, under the rules, that the three candidates who received only single ballots would be eliminated from the second ballot. Therefore, currently the only name that still exists in nomination is Mr. Leeson.
Roll Call on Finalist – Joseph F. Leeson, Jr.
The Clerk called the roll on the finalist, Joseph Leeson. Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The motion passed.
President Schweder stated that the election of Joseph Leeson is passed by a vote of six to zero.
President Schweder asked the Clerk to read the Resolution for Filling the Vacancy on City Council with the name of the finalist, Joseph F. Leeson, Jr.
A. Filling the Vacancy on City Council – Appointing Joseph F. Leeson, Jr. to Fill Council Seat Vacated by John B. Callahan
Mr. Donchez and Mrs. Belinski sponsored Resolution 14,278 as follows:
"Be It Resolved by the Council of the City of Bethlehem
that pursuant to Third Class City Charter Law Sec. 406 (a)
(53 P.S. Sec 41406 (a) ) Joseph F. Leeson, Jr. is hereby appointed
to fill the vacancy on Bethlehem City Council, as a result
of the resignation of John B. Callahan effective as of January
5, 2004, and who shall so serve until a successor is elected
and is duly sworn into office on January 2, 2006."
Voting AYE: Mr. Arcelay, Mrs. Belinski, Mr. Donchez, Mr. Mowrer, Ms. Szabo, and Mr. Schweder, 6. The Resolution passed.
President Schweder and the Members of Council congratulated Mr. Leeson.
Swearing In Ceremony
President Schweder noted that he will confer with Mr. Leeson after the meeting to set up an appropriate time for Mr. Leeson to take the Oath of Office.
7. COURTESY OF THE FLOOR
The meeting was adjourned at 8:59 p.m.