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2023 Primary Election Guide

In this issue I’ll be covering both the Lower Saucon Township Council and the Saucon Valley School Board Primary Elections.

Lower Saucon Township Council

If you have have been sickened, disgusted, revolted or outraged by the behavior of four of the five members of the Lower Saucon Township Council since the last local election in November 2021, here is the first opportunity for at least some of us to begin to do something about it.

The upcoming primary election on Tuesday, May 16, will be the first time any township residents can vote for Lower Saucon Township Council candidates.  On the Democratic side, it’s fairly straightforward.  Priscilla deLeon, Victoria Opthof-Cordaro and Laura Ray are running for the three open seats so there is no competition on that side.  These are three fine ladies.  Priscilla deLeon has been fighting on behalf of Lower Saucon citizens for nine terms now.  That’s 35 years!  The last term has undoubtedly been the most ugly.  Victoria Opthof-Cordaro ran for council in 2021 and lost to the Landfill mob. She’ll be running again, for good reason.  Laura Ray is an active resident, member of the township EAC, and a valuable contributor to the battle against landfill expansion.  Saucon Shenanigans will provide more info on each of these candidates when we get to the general election.

On the Republican side, however, there are four candidates running for three open seats, and if you’re a registered Republican, here’s where you can make a BIG difference!  I urge you to do so.

Kathy Pichel-McGovern is running on her own – not as part of any slate – for one of the seats. You can find lots of information about her on her website here:  https://www.votekathypichelmcgovern.com.  But I want to share why it’s important that you vote for her and not the other 3 cyphers running as a slate of Banonis toadies.

Kathy is very direct about her position on many of the critical issues we’ve been dealing with over the last few years.  

  • She supports a return to affiliation with the Hellertown Area Library.  In fact, she was formerly the treasurer while a member of the HAL Board of Trustees.  
  • She stands four-square against the expansion of the dump.  She’s a farmer whose property stands in close proximity to the land that will be destroyed.  As a farmer, she has a clear understanding of what the destruction of that property will cause both our environment and our quality of life.   She was a member of the township’s Environmental Advocacy Committee (EAC).
  • She supports a return to the collaboration that LST formerly had with Hellertown, including the sharing of the yard waste/compost center. 
  • She opposes the rezoning of residential areas (R40) to light manufacturing (LM) that will lay open the space for warehouses. She was a member of the township’s Planning Commission.

All of these positions are in line with not only what Saucon Shenanigans has been supporting over the last two years but also in line with what so many LST residents have testified to and for which they have been roundly ignored.

So if you’re a registered Republican, please vote for Kathy Pichel-McGovern in the primary.  She stands for what we’ve all been fighting for ever since the Banonis cronies took over.

Oh.  You want to know about the other three running on the Republican ticket?  I’m not inclined to give them any publicity but I’ll cover a few pertinent points.

  • Yerger has been on the council for quite a few years.  From the time I began following council meetings in February 2020, she was president of the township council until Banonis was elected in 2022.  She was basically useless.  In the two years since Banonis became president, she has scarcely ever voted contrary to his position on anything.  She did vote against the rezoning for the landfill expansion in December 2022, but prior to that she voted for it as a member of the EAC and then, after the zoning vote, she voted in favor of proceeding with the conditional use hearing on January 18, 2023.  Bottom line, they let her vote “no” on the dump re-zoning because they had enough votes to pass it anyway.  
  • Inglis is even more of a seat-warmer.  He was appointed to the council to fill the vacancy created by Jen Zavacky’s resignation in May 2022.  There were apparently 3 other applicants for the position, but we were not informed of their names or qualifications.  Not clear what Inglis’s qualifications were for the position but he definitely never votes contrary to anything Banonis wants. He voted for the dump rezoning, for the conditional use hearing, and for the recent disgusting quarter million dollar “offer” to Southern Lehigh Public Library.  The other thing we do know is that he’s related to John Inglis who is a member of the Upper Saucon Township Council which has been heavily pressuring Southern Lehigh Public Library to take that $250,000 “offer”.  Coincidence?
  • Susan Blair seems to be the designated country-club replacement for Jen Zavacky.  Her list of issues is completely anodyne with the possible exception of support for term limits which seems to be a direct slap at Mrs. deLeon.  She says she’s going to make “honest, informed and fiscally responsible decision[s] as the facts and my conscience dictate” which might lead you to think there’s a chance she’ll vote against the Banonis bunch, but don’t count on it. That’s pretty flowery nonsense. She lists exactly no involvement in the township in which she has lived for 40 years.  How informed does that make her? Oh, and her husband’s a builder/developer. (Blair Homes. Ring a bell?)

Assuming that two (and only two) of these three will make it through to the general election, I’ll have more information on them.  Until then, you should be aware that not one of them responded to the questions asked by the League of Women Voters or the Morning Call. Still waiting to see if they bother to respond to Saucon Source.  Does that give you some idea how much they’re going to be listening to you as a resident?

I urge you, if you are a Republican resident of LST, vote for Kathy Pichel-McGovern for Township Council.

Saucon Valley School Board

Now let’s take a look at the school board candidates.  I usually don’t cover the school board, but there is so much cause for concern within the school district as student performances decline, the district loses teachers and chooses not to replace them, the administration seems incapable of intelligent decisions, the Board seems intent on micro-managing things they don’t even understand and not effectively managing things they should (like finances), more extremist candidates run and a few have been elected, that it’s worth some consideration.

Pennsylvania allows candidates for school board to cross-register.  That means that if you can get enough signatures on a petition for each side, you can appear on the primary ballot for each party.  The concept behind this is, theoretically, that school board should not be a partisan position.  And I actually, theoretically, agree with that.  Or at least I did until one of our political parties took leave of its senses and headed off to extremist land, especially on the subject of what qualifies as a good education for our children.  Since that’s happened, my biggest objection is that it’s damn near impossible for your average citizen to find out which party a candidate is registered for.  In Saucon Valley, there seems to be a high stakes game of “hide my party affiliation”.  

There are 10 candidates for 5 school board openings.  One – Barrett Geyer – is running only on the Republican side.  His strategy is that that way he’ll definitely get on the ballot for November.  That’s his strategy but it’s not guaranteed. Any 5 of the other 9 might still get more votes than him.  That wouldn’t be a loss.

Beyond that there are two slates running.  One slate – Susan Baxter, Laurel Erickson-Parsons, Bryan Eichfeld, Shawn Welch and Michael Karabin – is made up exclusively of people running for re-election.  So if you think everything over there at the school district is hunky-dory, you need read no further.  There are your candidates.  But I would suggest if you believe that, then you are either badly informed, completely misinformed or delusional.  

The other slate is of four candidates who are not currently on the school board – Bill Broun, Don Carpenter, Viv Demko and Jay Santos.  They are, respectively, a writer/professor, the president of a local labor union, a retired teacher, and a technical solutions computer engineer.  What they also represent is a vision of a much higher-achieving school district that will provide our students with superior academics and first-class teachers, our teachers with the kind of professional and technical support they need, and our community with the kind of return on our tax dollars that we should expect.  They’ll also take a pass on the extremism and the bizarre controversies and the frankly incompetent administrative leadership that I’ve watched for quite a while now, regardless of who’s in the currently revolving door of the superintendent’s office.

This second slate is also made up of the only candidates endorsed by the Saucon Valley teachers (through PSEA/PACE). Frankly, after the hell that teachers have been put through during Covid when they’ve gotten to see up close and personal what kind of job the school board did on their behalf (HINT: it sucked), I’m more than happy to take their recommendation for the people they’d rather work with.

One other thing I hope that this second slate will bring is a much better job of communicating not just with parents and students but with the rest of us who pay the bill for education.  When I questioned that once, I was told that I could sign up for an email list.  Really?  That’s how much effort you’re willing to put in to communicating with the people who pay the bills?  Fail!

I was also appalled to read this past week that the school board doesn’t even have an easily identifiable summary reporting of its legal bills over the years.  That should be an easy category to track – and control if you’re doing your job right.  Wonder if the school district’s legal fees are as out of line as the township council’s?  Perhaps they both need some new financial oversight. Or maybe it’s something in LST’s water.

And it practically goes without saying that the handling of the entire After School Satan Club fiasco was embarrassing to us as taxpayers and residents of what has to be the worst managed school district in the country.  The school board’s position was so wrong that it took the Court about five minutes (?) to see through their persiflage.

You can choose to vote for any 5 of the school board candidates. You are not required to vote for any complete slate.  Although they advertise that way, they are not legally connected on the ballot. Check each of them out carefully.  But I would encourage you to check out the Saucon Choices for Change website and get some idea of the progress we could see our school district make rather than slogging through the mud of the last many years. 

Whomever you choose, VOTE!  It’s your responsibility as a citizen.

Bad politicians are elected by good people who don’t vote.

VOTING INFORMATION

If you have NOT applied for a mail-in/absentee ballot you are eligible for Early “On Demand” Voting in the Northampton County Elections Office (669 Washington St., Easton, PA) on the Lower Level

Last Days for Early “On Demand” Voting are:

Monday May 8, 2023 – 8:30 AM – 5 PM

Tuesday, May 9, 2023 – 8:30 AM – 5 PM

TUESDAY, MAY 9 IS THE LAST DAY TO APPLY FOR A MAIL-IN BALLOT


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