Hellertown Borough Council held public interviews of three candidates Monday night to fill the vacancy recently created by councilman Herb Payung’s resignation earlier this month, and at the end of the night it was the candidate with prior experience as a council member who got the appointment.
In order to be considered for any government position, candidates must live within the municipality they wish to represent.
The first person to interview was Andrew Hughes, who said he moved to the borough two years ago.
Hughes told council his employment history includes military service and highlighted his extensive knowledge of computer systems information safety. He said he believes Hellertown’s two greatest assets are its location and affordability and pointed to borough finances and traffic as the two biggest challenges he sees for Hellertown, in response to a question that was posed to all the candidates.
Michael McKenna, a former council member who currently serves as the Vice President of Dewey Fire Company and left council after opting not to seek re-election in 2017, was the second interviewee.
When asked why he wanted the appointment, McKenna responded, “I miss serving on council.”
He said his two biggest concerns for the borough are pedestrian safety and storm water management.
McKenna is also the Hellertown Borough Authority board assistant secretary.
With the Lehigh Valley receiving more than nine inches above the average rainfall amounts this month so far, council agreed with McKenna that storm water management is a priority for the borough.
Larry O’Donnell, who is an English teacher and a graduate student at Villanova University studying nonprofit management, interviewed last.
He said he moved to Hellertown seven or eight years ago and is currently on the Friends of the Hellertown Area Library board–a position he said he would surrender in order to make more time for council meetings.
One council member pointed out that, “Being on council involves more than two meetings a month.”
Some personal attributes O’Donnell said he would bring to council include being organized and structured.
“That’s why I like borough council meetings, because they’re structured,” he said.
When asked what he saw as the biggest challenges facing Hellertown, O’Donnell mentioned a generation gap and finding ways to engage the younger generation.
Mayor David Heintzelman followed up on that answer by highlighting new family-friendly activities he has recently helped spearhead–including a bike ride with borough and Lower Saucon Township police on the rail trail–as events the borough has held in order to help close the generation gap.
A fourth candidate withdrew his name from consideration for the appointment, citing the qualifications of the other three candidates.
After a brief recess council voted unanimously to appoint McKenna to fill the vacancy.
The next borough council meeting will be held Sept. 4, the Tuesday after Labor Day, at 7 p.m. in Hellertown Borough Hall.