The following candidates are running for office in Northampton County. The Press asked all of the candidates the following question: What is the most important issue in this election?
Two candidates are running for county executive in the Nov. 7 municipal election. This role has a four-year term of office and serves as the chief executive officer and administrative official who executes and enforces all county ordinances and presents the financial plan and budget to county council. Their responses to our question follow.
LAMONT MCCLURE (D)
John Michael Hann, 61, of Bushkill Township, was taken into custody Oct. 5 on charges of homicide and attempted homicide filed in connection with a shooting Oct. 4 in Lehigh Township.
Hann is accused of shooting and killing his cousin, Joseph F. Mullner, 64.
Mullner’s wife, Melinda, who called police 6:26 p.m. Oct. 4 to report what happened, was also shot.
She is currently hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.
Lehigh Township police found her husband’s body in the driveway of their Longacre Drive home.
On Sept. 10, U.S. Congressman Charlie Dent, R-15th, hosted what was supposed to be a “formal announcement” concerning his intentions next year. But news of his retirement leaked out Sept. 7. Dent revealed his intentions to a few of his congressional colleagues, and they spilled the beans.
“They’re wonderful friends, but they have big mouths,” Dent joked Sunday at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Allentown.
“I just wanted to say thank you to everybody in this room,” said Dent, who apologized for interrupting one of the biggest sports weekends of the year.
Allentown’s Da Vinci Science Center would like to reinvent itself in Easton. Thanks in no small part to a $30 million pledge by Easton Mayor Sal Panto, the science center, now near Cedar Crest College, plans to transform into a $130 million aquarium, complete with an event center and even an immersion theater, in the City of Easton.
But who will pay for it?
Fairly or unfairly, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., has come under heavy criticism for refusing to meet his constituents at one of those increasingly raucous town halls. One group calling itself Tuesdays with Toomey actually camps outside his legislative offices weekly. On Aug. 31, it was Thursday with Toomey. It was a one-hour televised town hall at the Steelstacks’ PBS39 studios before a small crowd of 54 people and nine reporters and photographers.
Sharon’s Day Care owner and operator Sharon Ballek, 61, has pleaded guilty to charges filed in connection with the April 1, 2016, death of a 3-month-old baby who had been entrusted to Ballek’s care. McKenna Rose Felmly died on her first day at the now-closed Lehigh Township facility, located at 4538 Third St.
Ballek entered her guilty plea before Northampton County Judge Paula Roscioli July 31. She admitted to both endangering the welfare of a child and reckless endangerment.
Over the weekend, as the 34th Musikfest celebration came to an end, Bethlehem Police Chief Mark DiLuzio had just one word to describe it: “Great!” During the 10-day festival, more than 1.2 million people visited the Christmas City. Only 36 people were arrested, mostly for public drunkenness.
Gregory Graf, 56, of Northampton — convicted of and serving a life sentence on charges that he lured his stepdaughter, Jessica Padgett, to his home in November 2014, so he could kill her and then film himself having sexual relations with her dead body — has filed papers with the court blaming his lawyer for his predicament.
That lawyer is prominent Philadelphia Defense Attorney Jack McMahon, who is currently representing Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski on federal political corruption charges.
Pennsylvania’s incarceration rate was the highest among northeast states in 2014. But housing someone in a county jail costs money.
It costs $40,000 a year in a county jail, according to the County Commissioner Association. Statewide, 65 percent of these inmates are there for a substance abuse disorder. Another 10 to 30 percent suffer from mental illness. For these people, there are community-based alternatives to incarceration that cost less than half of the cost to jail someone. And that, in turn, has led to the creation of problem-solving courts.
Northampton County’s investigating grand jury has recommended criminal charges in the day care death of McKenna Rose Felmly, a 3-month old who died at a Lehigh Township day care April 1, 2016.
Sharon Ballek, owner and operator of Sharon’s Day Care at 4538 Third St., will be charged with recklessly endangering another person and endangering the welfare of children. She will be spared prosecution for involuntary manslaughter.