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Meetings get security boost from county

Steve Lynch, of Northampton, is the Republican nominee for Northampton County executive. He has been in the spotlight recently over some comments he made at an Aug. 29 anti-vaccination and anti-mask rally in Harrisburg.

“Men, where are you?“ he asked. “Men, wake up! Smell the coffee! Let’s go! Make men great again, right? Make men men again. Let’s go!

“Forget going into these school boards with freakin’ data,” he said. “You go into these school boards to remove them. I’m going in with 20 strong men, and I’m gonna give them an option - they can leave or they can be removed.”

A backlash erupted on social media, and he and his comments even received national news attention. Lynch took to social media Aug. 30 to state that his comments were taken out of context and denied any perceived intent to forcibly remove school directors. He said he was reaching out to men since the “momma bears” of the families have been taking the front seat in caring for their children.

Lynch hosted a gathering Aug. 31 in Northampton Borough’s 26th Street Playground for concerned families to come out and discuss the mask mandate in schools by the school board. Since his initial comments, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued a statewide school mask mandate.

Following Lynch’s comments to “bring 20 strong men” to the Northampton Area School Board meeting, Northampton Area School District Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kovalchik reached out to Northampton County for additional security. There will reportedly be deputy sheriffs at the next several meetings to ensure everyone’s safety.

“We have seen more people attending our board meetings and more emotion and more engagement in our board meetings,” Kovalchik said. “Some of those conversations have been professional and cordial, and some of those conversations have not.

“In my line of work, in today’s world, I’m concerned about everything,” he added. “I don’t sleep very well at night because there is so much going in today’s world politically that comes into our district and our schools, unfortunately. I have to take anything and everything very seriously.”

Current Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure advised county council at its Sept. 2 meeting the county will be reimbursed by the school district for the cost of security at the school board meetings. Any arrests would be made by police, not the deputies.

Northampton County Council member Ron Heckman, a graduate of Northampton High School, called Lynch’s remarks “shameful and reprehensible.”

“It should be condemned at every level,” Heckman said.

PRESS PHOTO BY SCOTT M. NAGY A crowd of 60 to 70 people gather Aug. 31 at Northampton's 26th Street Playground to hear Steve Lynch speak against mask mandates in schools. In addition to Lynch, about 10 local citizens also spoke.
PRESS PHOTOS BY SCOTT M. NAGY A Northampton Area School District student speaks at an Aug. 31 gathering at Northampton's 26th Street Playground.
Steve Lynch, candidate for Northampton County executive, addresses the crowd.