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Jeanne McNeill accepts 133rd nomination

With an overwhelming endorsement by Lehigh County Democratic Executive Committee and the state’s Democratic leadership Oct. 4, Jeanne McNeill accepted the party’s nomination to fill the 133rd Legislative District seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, which has been vacant since the Sept. 8 death of her husband, Daniel.

The 133rd District includes portions of Hanover (Lehigh County), Whitehall and Salisbury townships, Bethlehem (Lehigh County) and Catasauqua, Coplay and Fountain Hill boroughs.

The Republican Party is expected this week to announce its candidate for the office in the Dec. 5 special election.

“I knew in my heart I had to continue,” she said. “We’re the same heart and mind. We walked side by side, hip on hip, in everything we’ve done.”

Jeanne McNeill

At an emotional announcement at Westgate Mall, Bethlehem, McNeill, of Hokendauqua, said she is proud to take the mantle from her late husband and seek the office in the special election.

On hand for her candidacy announcement was a large crowd of supporters, including family and friends, and also a number of Democratic elected officials, such as Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez; Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli; Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners President Phillips Armstrong; former Coplay mayor William Leiner Jr., now a 2018 candidate for U.S. Congress’ 15th District seat; Chairman of Lehigh County Democratic Party Walter Felton; Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller; and several Coplay elected officials.

After McNeill accepted the nomination, Donchez said it is a “great day.”

Others present echoed his remarks and commented that McNeill, who like her husband championed the causes of the families he represented, will do the 133rd Legislative District proud.

McNeill said there were times her husband would say that if he died while in office, she should run for his seat in the district. The topic was discussed about a week before his death, she said, adding her husband said he was serious about the work they embarked on and that it should continue.

“I knew in my heart I had to continue,” she said. “We’re the same heart and mind. We walked side by side, hip on hip, in everything we’ve done.”

McNeill said she will continue to hold town hall meetings on the opioid epidemic and bring awareness of its devastating consequences. She also pledged to continue tax reform efforts.

A skills trainer with Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit 21, McNeill said she wants to advance special education programs to help children with disabilities.

“They need all the help we can give them,” McNeill said of the parents and children with which she works.

“In the midst of our grief, we must look to the future.”

PRESS PHOTOS BY AL RECKERBefore a large crowd of family, friends and political figures, Jeanne McNeill addresses the audience Oct. 4 at Westgate Mall, Bethlehem, to accept the Democratic Party's nomination for the 133rd Legislative District seat. A special election will be held Dec. 5 to fill the seat, held by her husband, Daniel, who died Sept. 8.