Voters’ Guide for the General Election, November 8, 2016
* the Voters' Guide will be published by The Morning Call on October 27 *
Candidates for President
(U.S. Senator; Attorney General; Auditor General; Treasurer)
Candidates are listed with Democrats first since Pennsylvania has a Democratic governor.
Candidates for legislative offices were asked to provide personal information and answer a question
CANDIDATES FOR CONGRESS
CANDIDATES FOR STATE REPRESENTATIVE
State Constitutional Amendment
South Whitehall Referendum
Upper Milford Referendum
Parkland School District Referendum
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Congress is the legislative branch of the federal government. It is composed of two houses. The upper house is the Senate. The lower house is the House of Representatives. A majority vote by both houses is necessary to pass a law. Every law concerned with taxation must originate in the House of Representatives. Representatives are elected by district.
Term: two years
Base salary: $174,000
Vote for one
Candidates were asked:
"Partisan gridlock in Washington
has brought our government nearly to a standstill. If elected, what steps will
you take to reduce partisan gridlock? Please be specific."
15th Congressional District
All of Lehigh County
Part of Northampton County: City of Bethlehem (Northampton County Portion)
(Wards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16 and part of Ward 17; townships of
Allen, Bushkill, East Allen, Hanover, Lehigh, Lower Nazareth, Lower Saucon,
Moore, Plainfield (Belfast, Kesslersville and Plainfield Church districts),
Upper Nazareth (West District) and Williams; boroughs of Bath, Chapman,
Hellertown, North Catasauqua, Northampton and Walnutport.
In Berks County: Townships of Albany, Bethel, Greenwich, Hereford
district 1, Jefferson, Longswamp, Maxatawny, Perry, Tilden, Tulpehocken, Upper
Bern, Upper Tulpehocken, Windsor; Boroughs of Centerport, Hamburg, Kutztown,
Lenhartsville, Lyons, Shoemakersville, Strausstown, Topton.
Parts of Dauphin, and Lebanon counties.
EDUCATION: Graduate Catasauqua High School, 1978, and Moravian College, 1982
OCCUPATION: Executive Director at Lehigh Valley Active Life, a senior center in Allentown.
QUALIFICATIONS: Former District Administrator for Congressman Paul McHale (retired). I am a concerned citizen.
RESPONSE: I will work with Republican members of the Freedom Caucus to reverse the economic damage that free trade agreements and trade with Communist China and Mexico have done to our economy. We will create trade agreements that benefit our workers, protect manufacturing jobs, bring jobs back, and give everyone a chance to earn a good living. I will support veterans, the military, and their families. I will not accept a pension and serve one term.
Charles W. Dent
EDUCATION: William Allen High School, 1978; Foreign Service, International Politics, Pennsylvania State University, 1982; MPA, Lehigh University, 1993
OCCUPATION: U.S. Representative (PA-15). Chairman, House Ethics Committee. Chairman, House Appropriations Subcommittee – Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
QUALIFICATIONS: State Representative (PA-132nd) 8 years; State Senate (PA-16th) 6 years; U.S. Congress, (2005 – Current)
RESPONSE: I work across the aisle on issues like funding medical research, fighting the sale of dangerous synthetic drugs and meeting the needs of our veterans. My bill stopping the sale of harmful synthetic narcotics recently passed the House with great bipartisan support. I chair the Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction and the VA. My bill providing funding for veterans’ needs also became law by bipartisan consensus. I belong to the No Labels "Problem Solver" Caucus.
Hanover Township, Northampton County
EDUCATION: Technical School Graduate in Telecommunications, Somerset Technical, Raritan NJ
OCCUPATION: Telecommunications Technician
QUALIFICATIONS: I was Chairman of the Northampton County Libertarian Party two years
RESPONSE: I believe the only way to move forward in this country is to start by minimizing the two party system. If elected I will work with both sides. When this country was founded, the founding fathers had no political affiliation; their loyalty was to the people, not the party. I envision that a coalition government would serve the people better. It would provide the checks and balances needed if more third party and independents won elected office.
17th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
In Northampton County: Cities of Bethlehem (Northern County portion) Ward 17 all except blocks 1026, 1123, 2018 and 2055 of tract 11300, and Easton. Townships of Bethlehem, Forks, Lower Mt. Bethel, Palmer, Plainfield District Delabole, Upper Mt. Bethel, Upper Nazareth District East, and Washington; Boroughs of Bangor, East Bangor, Freemansburg, Glendon, Nazareth, Pen Argyl, Portland, Roseto, Stockertown, Tatamy, West Easton, Wilson and Wind Gap. Parts of Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe and all of Schuylkill Counties.
See www.lwvnorthco.org for candidates' names and their responses
Pennsylvania Senate: No candidates this year.
The State Senators serving the Lehigh Valley will be up for re-election in 2018.
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Term: two years
Base salary: $85,338
In each district, vote for one
Candidates were asked:
"Partisan gridlock in Harrisburg has brought our government nearly to a standstill. If elected, what steps will you take to reduce partisan gridlock? Please be specific."
22nd Legislative District
Allentown wards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (div 1), 7, 8 (divs 1, 2), 9, 10 (div 1), 11 (divs 1, 2), 12, 14 (div 2), 16, 19.
Peter G. Schweyer
EDUCATION: Graduate, Allentown Central Catholic High School, 1996; B.A. in Political Science, Schreyer’s Honors College, the Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, 2000; Masters Level Coursework, Elementary Education, St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia PA, 2000.
OCCUPATION: State Representative
QUALIFICATIONS: State Representative, 2015-current. Allentown City Council, 2008-2014. Director, Community and Government Affairs, Sacred Heart HealthCare System, 2012-2014. Chief of Staff to State Rep. Jennifer Mann, 2004-2012.
RESPONSE: Getting beyond partisanship can be as simple as identifying issues on which both Democrats and Republicans can agree. I recently wrote legislation that would begin to address the epidemic of veterans’ suicide and it has received bi-partisan support. Support for this idea is stronger due to relationships I have with my colleagues of both parties. If re-elected, I will continue to develop those relationships so that I can more effectively serve the people of Allentown.
131st Legislative District
In Lehigh County: Townships of Lower Milford; Salisbury (Ward 3, div 1); Upper Milford; Upper Saucon. Boroughs of Coopersburg, Emmaus. In Northampton County: Lower Saucon Twp., districts 1, 2, 4, 7, 8.
Upper Saucon Township
EDUCATION: Dieruff – 1964; Bloomsburg University, B.S. Special Education–1969; Lehigh University, M.Ed. Special Education–1984; Moravian College, B.S–1994; Columbia University–2009
OCCUPATION: Educational Consultant to State Representative Daniel McNeill
QUALIFICATIONS: Secretary to Lehigh County Women’s Democratic Club; 2 Terms elected to ASD School Board; Bernie Cohen Award; L.C. Outstanding Democratic Women–2016
RESPONSE: The source of gridlock is the increasing polarization of our Governor and the elected Representatives. I believe in changing the legislative redistricting system because you end up with elected officials that represent a homogeneous electorate composed of extreme candidates and fewer moderates. My suggestion would be bipartisan redistricting commissions modeled after Iowa or Arizona. I also believe in term limits and decreasing the size of the House of Representatives. A smaller arena of Representatives allows for more listening and as a result more action. This could be attained by opening subcommittee meetings and enable the process of bipartisan legislation.
Justin J. Simmons
Upper Saucon Township
EDUCATION: Southern Lehigh High School, 2004; B.A. St. Joseph’s University, 2009
OCCUPATION: State Representative
QUALIFICATIONS: Serving the people of the 131st for six years as their conservative voice in Harrisburg, working for fiscal responsibility, economic growth, stronger schools, and leading by example on reform by refusing the taxpayer paid pensions and per diems.
RESPONSE: Partisan gridlock didn’t stop Harrisburg, a legitimate debate over how we treat taxpayers did. Last year, the Governor overreached on taxes and refused compromise. This year, with compromise, we passed a bipartisan budget that focuses on priorities and did not raise broad-based taxes.
132nd Legislative District
Allentown wards 6 (div 2), 8 (divs 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), 10 (divs 3, 4), 11 (divs 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), 13, 14 (div 1), 15, 17, 18. South Whitehall Twp districts 1, 2, 7.
EDUCATION: BA, Political Science & Psychology, Muhlenberg College, 2005; MA, Political Science, Lehigh University, 2006
OCCUPATION: State Representative
QUALIFICATIONS: State Representative, 2012-present. Allentown City Council, 2009-2012. Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce employee, 2007-2012.
RESPONSE: First, continue to build relationships with Republicans. Those relationships have enabled me to bring dollars home for schools and transportation, and pass legislation to protect children, victims of rape and domestic violence. Second, tone down inflammatory political rhetoric; we can disagree without ugliness. Third, reform the redistricting process, which encourages extreme positions as opposed to moderation. Fourth, enact real campaign finance reform to make it more difficult to take unlimited money from secret groups.
EDUCATION: Parkland High School, 2012; BA, DeSales University, 2016.
OCCUPATION: Sales at family business, Lehigh Valley Water Systems.
QUALIFICATIONS: South Whitehall Public Safety Commission (2015)
RESPONSE: It is easy to talk about working across the aisle, but few candidates have done so. Putting my political future on the line, I openly endorsed an individual of the opposite party. It is about time we start sending people to Harrisburg that are willing to stand up for what is right, not what is right for their own political party. There are right answers, not Democrat or Republican answers, but the right answers.
133rd Legislative District
City of Bethlehem (Lehigh County portion). Townships of Hanover; Salisbury wards 1, 2, 3 (div 2); Whitehall districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 12. Boroughs of Catasauqua, Coplay, Fountain Hill.
Daniel T. McNeill
EDUCATION: Graduate Louis E. Dieruff High School
OCCUPATION: State Representative – 133rd District
QUALIFICATIONS: Whitehall Township Commissioner, 6 years; Whitehall Township Executive, 2 years; Manager, Regional Partnerships for Lehigh County, 4 years; State Representative, 133rd District, 3 years; Member of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Finance, Labor and Industry, Local Government, and Professional Licensure Committees.
RESPONSE: Unfortunately, partisan gridlock will continue in Harrisburg until two vital steps are taken. I support creating an independent redistricting committee which will end the gerrymandering of districts that has given a huge majority for Republicans in the House of Representatives. I also support the re-organizing of committees where the majority party has one extra member, allowing for more bi-partisan bills to come out of committee for a full vote on the house floor.
EDUCATION: William Allen High School, San Francisco College of TCM, Nanjing College of TCM, others
QUALIFICATIONS: Years a businessman Years as Non Profit board member and Executive Director Years as grassroots political organizer, passing 3 state legislative bills.
RESPONSE: The Senate and House can work to adjust legislation via negotiation. There is only one place where things can totally break down because of one person. The Governor’s office. If the Governor is beholden to Special Interests, nothing moves. The Governor does not depend on his pay to support his family, so not paying him makes for no changes in what he brings to the table. Not paying the House or Senate sounds good, but doesn’t make a real difference either. The Governor wants to raise NEW taxes so he can give away money to his Special Interest buddies, who wish to get double or more money for themselves from what they gave him.
EDUCATION: Whitehall High School, 2011
OCCUPATION: Commercial Truck Tire Sales
QUALIFICATIONS: Lehigh County Libertarian Party Chairman. Can balance a checkbook.
RESPONSE: As a Libertarian, I have a unique voice to bridge partisan gaps; as my vote will be available to any bill that is good for the people of Pennsylvania, regardless of what party that bill comes out of. I am socially tolerant and fiscally conservative. Right down the middle, just like most Americans. The people are tired of business as usual. I represent that voice. A vote for me is a vote of confidence in yourself.
134th Legislative District
In Lehigh County: Townships of Lower Macungie; Salisbury wards 4, 5; South Whitehall districts 3, 4. Boroughs of Alburtis, Macungie. Parts of Berks County.
Ryan E. Mackenzie
Lower Macungie Township
EDUCATION: Graduate, Parkland High School, 2000; B.S., Finance and International Business, New York University, 2004; Master of Business Administration, Harvard University, 2010
OCCUPATION: State Representative, 134th District
QUALIFICATIONS: Current state Representative committed to protecting taxpayers, creating jobs, strengthening education, and reforming government. Former Director of Policy for PA Department of Labor & Industry.
RESPONSE: I have always had an open door policy and take every opportunity possible to speak with individuals and groups interested in tackling the serious issues facing state government. By having an open and ongoing dialogue, I often find there is common ground and I have been pleased to pass legislation reforming state government operations and the state tax code with strong bipartisan support. If re-elected, I will continue these efforts to achieve a better Pennsylvania.
In Northampton County: City of Bethlehem (Northampton County portion); Township of Bethlehem (Part, Wards 02 and 03 [divisions 01, 02, and 03]).
EDUCATION: 1978, Liberty High School; 1986, Lehigh University, B.A. in Government
OCCUPATION: State Legislator
QUALIFICATIONS: I am a hands-on legislator with a long record of service to our community, and I am a consistent advocate for reform in Harrisburg.
RESPONSE: To reduce gridlock, we need to end gerrymandering by switching Pennsylvania to a nonpartisan redistricting process. Drawing legislative districts in a nonpartisan manner – as is done in states like Iowa and California – will lead to more competitive districts, more competitive elections, and bipartisan policymaking. I have been a leading advocate for nonpartisan redistricting, and I feel strongly that we need to enact this reform before the next reapportionment is triggered by the 2020 Census.
In Northampton County: City of Easton; Townships of Lower Saucon (Districts 03, 05, and 06), Palmer (Districts Eastern, Middle [Division 02] and Western) and Williams; Boroughs of Freemansburg, Glendon, Hellertown, West Easton and Wilson.
EDUCATION: 1975, Easton Area High School; 1978, Moravian College, BA History & Political Science, magna cum laude; 1984, Lehigh University, MA History.
QUALIFICATIONS: State Representative, 1982-1994, 1998-present; Democratic Chairman, House Local Government Committee; authored Elm Street law to revitalize older neighborhoods; expertise in smart growth, farmland preservation, urban revitalization.
RESPONSE: To reduce partisan gridlock, reapportionment reform is needed to create legislative districts that are drawn to reflect communities and not gerrymandered for partisan advantage. Gerrymandering creates districts where legislators are prone to play to the party base over championing pragmatic solutions, which only fosters partisan polarization. Campaign finance reform is also needed to reduce the influence of special interest money in campaigns since special interest contributions distort public policy discussions along polarized ideological lines.
In Northampton County: Townships of Forks, Lower Mt. Bethel, Palmer (Part, Districts Middle [[Division 01], Upper Easton and Upper Western), Upper Mount Bethel, Upper Nazareth and Washington; Boroughs of Banger, East Banger, Nazareth, Portland, Roseto, Stockertown and Tatamy
EDUCATION: BS at Muhlenberg College
OCCUPATION: Owner of Farmers Insurance
QUALIFICATIONS: 1) Nazareth Bath Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors; 2) Rotary International; 3) Former New Jersey State Trooper; 4) local business owner.
RESPONSE: I will work on both sides of the isle. Develope loyalty by being honest and voting for the people.
Upper Nazareth Township
EDUCATION: 1989, Bangor High School; 1993, Lycoming College, B.A.; 1999, Kutztown, M. of Education.
OCCUPATION: State Representative – 137th Legislative District.
QUALIFICATIONS: Serving my 3rd term as State Representative; Township Supervisor, 4 years – Board Chairman 2 years; 18 years as a High School Economics/American Government teacher.
RESPONSE: No reply
In Northampton County: Townships of Bethlehem (Wards 01, 03 [Division 04] and 04), Bushkill, East Allen, Hanover, Lower Nazareth, Moore (Districts Eastern and Point Phillips) and Plainfield; Boroughs of Bath, Chapman, Pen Argyl and Wind Gap.
EDUCATION: High School Diploma, Homeschool, Denton, NC, 2000. Certificate in Ministerial Studies, Penn View Bible Institute, Penns Creek, PA, 2006. Certificate of Completion: The Economics of the Great Depression, Mises Institute, 2014
QUALIFICATIONS: Executive and community leadership experience from pastoring 2.5 years, I have read the PA Constitution, I follow legislation under consideration in the General Assembly, I understand how government works, and how it has taken our liberties.
RESPONSE: As an outsider, and a Libertarian, I can work with both parties now in office and bring fresh, new ideas to the fore. I do not have to pledge obedience to the PA House leadership. I will remain true to my principles, and be open to compromise on peripheral issues. I will be accountable to my constituents on how I vote and why.
183rd Legislative District
In Lehigh County: Townships of South Whitehall districts 5, 6, 8; Washington; Whitehall districts 7, 10, 11. Borough of Slatington. In Northampton County: Townships of Allen; Lehigh; Moore districts Beersville and Klecknersville. Boroughs of North Catasauqua; Northampton; Walnutport.
EDUCATION: 1971 BS in Education, Kutztown University; 1975 MA in Education, Kutztown University
OCCUPATION: President, Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners. Retired public school teacher at Whitehall-Coplay High School (40 years); Hall of Fame basketball coach at Whitehall-Coplay, Emmaus. Parkland.
QUALIFICATIONS: Whitehall Township Commissioner (3 years). Current president of the Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners.
RESPONSE: Before my appointment to the Whitehall Board of Commissioners they were "known for being unable to agree about anything". Since my re-election, as the chosen nominee of both parties, I have been able to work out compromises and fight for changes that have benefited all of our residents. We have eliminated our debt, balanced our budget, funded our police pensions, and done it all without raising taxes one cent. I have a proven record of bipartisan leadership.
187th Legislative District
In Lehigh County: Townships of Heidelberg, Lowhill, Lynn, North Whitehall, Upper Macungie, Weisenberg. Parts of Berks County.
Pennsylvania Constitutional Amendment
Amending the mandatory judicial retirement age
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to require that justices of the Supreme Court, judges and magisterial district judges be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years, instead of the current requirement that they be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 70?
Vote Yes or No
Plain English Statement of the Office of Attorney General
The purpose of the ballot question is to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to require that justices, judges and justices of the peace (known as magisterial district judges) be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years.
Presently, the Pennsylvania Constitution provides that justices, judges and justices of the peace be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 70 years. Justices of the peace are currently referred to as magisterial district judges.
If the ballot question were to be approved, justices, judges and magisterial district judges would be retired on the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years rather than the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 70 years.
This amendment to the mandatory retirement age would be applicable to all judges and justices in the Commonwealth, including the justices of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, judges of the Commonwealth Court, Superior Court, county courts of common pleas, community courts, municipal courts in the City of Philadelphia, and magisterial district judges.
The ballot question is limited in that it would not amend any other provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution related to the qualification, election, tenure, or compensation of the justices, judges or magisterial district judges.
The effect of the ballot question would be to allow all justices, judges, and magisterial district judges to remain in office until the last day of the calendar year in which they attain the age of 75 years. This would permit all justices, judges, and magisterial district judges to serve an additional five years beyond the current required retirement age.
South Whitehall Township Referendum
Wehr’s Dam restoration debt
Shall debt in the cumulative sum of Six Hundred Thousand Dollars ($600,000) be borrowed over a period of five (5) years for the purpose of financing the restoration and maintenance of Wehr’s Dam be authorized to be incurred as debt approved by the electors?
Vote Yes or No
Plain English Statement
The purpose of the Referendum is to determine whether the voters of South Whitehall Township desire to incur debt of up to Six Hundred Thousand ($600,000) Dollars to be borrowed over a period of five (5) years to finance the restoration and maintenance of Wehr’s Dam. The term for repayment of the debt would be determined by the Board of Commissioners of the Township.
The funds would be borrowed over a period of five (5) years, would be limited to a total amount of Six Hundred Thousand ($600,000) Dollars, and would only be used to finance the restoration and maintenance of Wehr’s Dam. If the question is defeated, another election for the same purpose may not be held until 155 days have elapsed since this election being held on November 8, 2016. During that 155-day period no bonds or notes may be issued and no lease rental debt may be incurred for the same purpose, except that nonelectoral or lease rental debt may be incurred if required to complete any project financed otherwise and already under construction or if there has been court approval obtained under the Local Government Unit Debt Act.
If the referendum passes, the Board of Township Commissioners will enter into debt to obtain the funds over a period of five (5) years to finance the restoration and maintenance of Wehr’s Dam. As a debt of the Township the funds will have to be repaid with interest.
Upper Milford Township Referendum
Earned income tax increase
Do you favor the imposition by Upper Milford Township of an additional Earned Income Tax at the rate of 0.1385 (%) percent on an annual basis beginning January 1, 2017, to be used for the purpose of financing the acquisition, protection, conservation or preservation of undeveloped open spaces or areas; forests and farmlands; natural and scenic resources; and recreational or historic lands; and payments of the attendant costs associated with such actions?
Vote Yes or No
Plain English Statement
The purpose of the referendum is to impose an additional Earned Income Tax at the rate of 0.1385 (%) percent annually beginning January 1, 2017. The revenue raised by the additional Earned Income Tax would be used for the following four (4) purposes: acquire agricultural conservation easements; finance the acquisition of open space; finance the protection of recreational or historical lands; pay the costs associated with such actions.
The funds from the additional Earned Income Tax may only be used for the four (4) reasons stated under the "Purpose" above. If the referendum question passes a new referendum on the continued imposition of the tax may not be held sooner than five (5) years after the approval of this question. If the referendum question fails a referendum to again consider the imposition of such a tax may not be held any sooner than five (5) years from the disapproval of the referendum question.
The act requires the Board of Supervisors to follow special procedures to acquire real property or open space property interests, but the Township may not acquire such interests by eminent domain and the Township may only sell open space property interests under certain circumstances and only after receiving the approval of the electorate by a ballot question.
If the referendum question passes, the Board of the Township Supervisors will have the funds to acquire agricultural conservation easements, to finance the acquisition of open space, to finance the protection of recreational or historical lands and to pay the costs associated with such actions. This will allow the Township Board of Supervisors to increase the amount of land in the Township which may not be developed for commercial and residential purposes.
Parkland School District Referendum
Shall funding for the Parkland Community Library be increased by raisings the existing Library Tax from 0.10 to 0.28 mills (increasing $18 per $100,000 of assessed value on taxable real estate within the Parkland School District)?
Vote Yes or No
Plain English Statement
The purpose of the Referendum is to increase the annual library tax in order to provide funds to meet the increased needs of the library. The increase in tax rate will provide funds to support existing and new facilities, services, technology, and to erect a new building.
The tax increase would be limited to $18.00 per $100,000 of assessed value on taxable real estate within the Parkland School District. This increase in the library tax would be added to the existing millage of 0.10 to increase the millage to 0.28 mils for a total of $28 per $100,000 of assessed value on taxable real estate within the Parkland School District. The library tax may only be used to maintain and aid the library.
The tax increase would be effective beginning July 1, 2017 and would represent a permanent increase in the amount of tax until action is taken to change the rate. Such rate change could only be taken by another vote of the electorate or of the Parkland School Board as provided in the Public Library Code.