2021 primary election candidates
By BERNIE O'HARE
Special to the Bethlehem Press
ATTENTION CANDIDATES: Our primary election coverage will run in our May 12 issue. We invite all candidates in contested races to send us a photo with their 150-word response to this question: What qualifies you to serve in the post you seek? Separate stories for Bethlehem city races – council, mayor and school board- are planned, but candidates for those offices are encouraged to send us a photo and their response to the same question. Responses must be received by April 30.
From County Executive to Borough Council, there will be a large number of municipal races in the primary election this year. While turnout in these contests tends to be anemic, these are the elected officials who have the biggest day-to-day impact on your lives. Here are most of the races in the areas covered by this newspaper.
County Executive: Incumbent Lamont McClure, first elected in 2017, is the sole Democrat seeking his party’s nomination. Steve Lynch, a trainer from Northampton, is the only Republican hopeful.
County Council: Five at-large seats, which are elected county-wide, will be decided. Incumbents Democrats Ron Heckman (Bethlehem), Lori Vargo-Heffner (Lower Saucon), Bill McGee (Northampton) and Tara Zrinski (Hanover) have each filed nomination petitions. In addition, newcomers Patti Bruno and Emmanuel Jah-El, both from Easton are seeking the Democratic nomination. Bruno, however, has filed objections to Jah-El’s nomination. This will be decided by the courts.
Republican hopefuls are John Goffredo (Washington), Scott Hough (Bethlehem), Annamarie T Robertone (Pen Argyl), Nicole Romanishin (Chapman) and Kristin Lorah Soldridge (Lehigh).
County Executive: Incumbent Phil Armstrong, first elected in 2017, is the only Democrat running. Former Controller and Commissioner Glen Eckhart is running on the Republican side.
Commisioner (District 3): The only two candidates to file nomination petitions in this District, which includes West Bethlehem, are Democrats Zachary Cole Borghi, a vacation planner, and Republican Jacqueline Rivera, daughter of Allentown school director candidate Bob Smith Jr.
County Judge: There are three vacancies this year. Attorneys Zachary Cohen, Eman Jarrah, Carlos Rodriguez, Maraleen Shields, Dave Ritter, Tom Caprehart and Tom Caffrey have all announced their candidacy.
Mayor: For the first time in 24 years, the Mayor’s race will be decided in November instead of May. Dana Grubb, a retired city administrator, and J. William Reynolds, a council member, are seeking the Democratic nomination. The winner of this battle will face Republican John Kachmar, Lehigh County former administrator and top aide to former Congressman Don Ritter.
City Council: Bethlehem City Council is comprised of seven members, each of whom is elected at-large (city-wide). It’s a part-time job with a salary of $7,100. Four seats are up for re-election this year, and five Democrats have filed nomination petitions. No Republican is running.
The candidates include incumbents Bryan Callahan and Grace Crampsie-Smith. He’s the brother of the city’s former mayor, a teacher and owner of the Callahan Driving School. She’s a guidance counselor in the Easton Area School District.
The three newcomers are Hillary Kwiatek, a communications specialist at Lehigh who, unsurprisingly, is a prolific tweeter; Kiera Wilhelm, director of Fig Magazine and small business cheerleader; and Rachel Leon, a Navy veteran pursuing a global studies degree.
Of the two incumbents, only Callahan voted No on this year’s budget, which imposes a five percent tax hike, a stormwater fee and defunds four firefighters. Crampsie-Smith led an effort to save the firefighters, but ultimately voted for the budget eliminating them.
School Board: Three seats are up in this year’s election, and five people are running. They include incumbent Michael Facinnetto as well as Silagh White, Shannon L. Patrick, Manuel Pagaio and Dellise Huertas. All but Huertas are cross-filed. Huertas, who filed as a Democrat, is being challenged on the basis of the validity of the signatures in her nomination petition.
Only one commissioner race (Ward 2) is in dispute. Democrat Jan Beatty will square off in the general election against the winner of a primary race between Republicans Steven Greco and Franklin Cope. There is also a constable race. Bethlehem Townshipp is allotted two. Democrats Richard Seeds and Anthony Ortwein will face Republicans Shawn E Fariello and John F. Gallagher. Believe it or not, there’s a contested Judge of Elections race in Ward 1-3 between Democrats Leslie M Altieri and Diane Capobianco. There will even be a contested Judge of Elections primary in Ward 2-2, between Republicans Steven Greco and Mary Beth Finnerty.
Incumbent Republican Mike Prendeville will face Democrat Jean Versteeg in the sole supervisor seat up for grabs. The winner of this race will decide whether Democrats or Republicans control Hanover Townshipp.
Democrat Michael Johnson, husband of council member Jamire Johnson, is running unopposed. Four council seats will be filled by four candidates: Democratic incumbents Will Rufe, Norman Blatt Jr. and Erica Graham, and Republican Philip Trabel. Democrat Thomas J. Redding Jr. is running unopposed for tax collector. No one has filed for constable. Democract J. Tim Freeman is running unopposed for 1st District judge of elections; Democrat Giuseppe Parascandolo is running unopposed for second District. Democrat Roberto J. deJesus is unopposed for inspector of elections in fist District; Democract Bonnie Pasascandolo is unopposed in second District.
LOWER SAUCON TOWNSHIP
Three council seats (two four-year terms and one two-year term) will be decided by the voters this year. Both are contested, but the two-year seat will be decided in the primary.
Democrats after the four-year seat are George J. Gress, Victoria Opthof-Cordaro and Maurice Kasmiroski. The three Republicans who filed are Donna Louder and incumbents Jason Banonis and Tom Carocci. Louder subsequently withdrew her nomination petition, which means Banonis and Carocci will run unopposed for the Republican nod.
Donna Louder and Jennifer Zavacky, both Republicans, filed for the two-year seat. Louder withdrew from this race as well, making Zavacky the presumptive GOP nominee.
Incumbent Mayor Donald Lasso filed no nomination petition. The borough’s former long-time Mayor, Gerald Yob, seeks the Democratic nomination. Borough Council consists of seven members, with three seats up this year. Incumbents Gerald Yob, Margaret Reichard and Charles E Derr, have filed nomination petitions as Democrats.
Democratic incumbent Mayor David Heintzelman, who is also a funeral director, has filed for re-election. There are seven members of borough council, with four seats up this year. Incumbent Democrats Thomas J Rieger, Gil Stauffer and Matt Marcincin have each filed. In addition, Democrat Theresa Fadem is seeking her party’s nomination.
Republicans Andrew Hughes and James W Hill have also filed for Borough Council.
North Bethlehem: Incumbent Magisterial District Judge Roy Manwaring, a former assistant DA, will face Will Carpenter, a Cornell grad and retired commercial real estate professional. Manwaring has cross-filed, while Carpenter only filed a Democratic nomination petition.
South Bethlehem: Three candidates are in the hunt, but that may soon change. Public Defenders Tony Rybak and Jordan Knisley have cross-filed, while Ilda Perna has filed a Democratic nomination petition. Rybak’s Republican petition has been challenged on the basis that it was signed by Republicans who previously signed Kni-sley’s petition. Perna’s nomination petition has been challenged as being short on valid signatures. In addition, Perna’s residency is in dispute.
Bethlehem Township: Incumbent Patricia Broscius, a former assistant DA, is being challenged by Andrew Tupone, currently an assessor. Tupone, representing himself, has challenged Broscius’ nomination papers on the basis of factual defects.
West Bethlehem: Amy Zannelli,a Lehigh County Commissioner and Van Scott, a retired Bethlehem police officer, have both cross-filed.