A college professor, novelist and former journalist, Hellertown resident Bill Broun announced Monday that he is seeking a seat on Borough Council.
Broun said he is running for council as a Democrat in the May 21 primary election, in which three four-year seats along with a two-year seat are open.
There is a two-year seat open because of the resignation late last year of councilman Kevin Lott, who stepped down less than a year into his four-year term in order to accept an appointment to fill a vacancy on Northampton County Council.
Broun said he has filed the required paperwork to seek election to the four-year seat and special election to the two-year seat.
In his news release, Broun identified local tax relief, more public involvement in borough decision-making and Hellertown’s cultural development as “the main planks of his platform.”
He said tax relief is a concern because Hellertown currently has the highest municipal tax rate among the county’s 19 boroughs.
“That’s absolutely got to change,” Broun said. “Some tough choices need to be made–and soon.”
Over the past six months Broun has been outspoken before council about a proposal–conditionally approved last year–to build a public works facility on vacant land the borough owns on Northampton Street between Magnolia Road and E. Saucon Street.
The land was once the site of Reinhard School, which was torn down in 2012.
Broun and some of his neighbors have formed a group in opposition to using the site for a maintenance building, and last month presented a petition to council about it.
Broun said that if elected he will serve without a salary, donating the $1,920 he would receive annually as council member to a local charity.
Professionally, Broun has taught journalism and writing at East Stroudsburg University for 13 years, and at Yale University for four years.
According to his news release and the announcement he published on Facebook, he worked his way through graduate school as a community journalist and a rock music journalist, in addition to teaching.
In the 1990s he served as editor-in-chief of four community weekly newspapers in Texas, and later as a community journalism freelancer in the Lehigh Valley; jobs he said provided him with “experience and knowledge about how local government and public services work.”
“Anyone who has worked in community journalism gets to see the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to local government,” Broun said.
Broun is also an author, having written the novel Night of the Animals (2016), which was the subject of a free workshop he hosted several years ago with his wife, poet Annmarie Drury, at the Hellertown Area Library.
“The library and Hellertown’s history are precious assets, but I also want to see what else we can do to develop culture here,” he said.
Broun said he “believes his experiences and connections in the culture industries will allow him to bring some innovative perspectives to the business before council.”
“I’ve spoken to a lot of voters around Hellertown,” he said in the news release. “There’s a public perception this council isn’t listening to the entire community. That may or may not be based in reality, but I’m hearing what I’m hearing. I’d just be one vote, but I’m going to do my best to make changes.”
Broun currently serves on the Northampton County Democratic Committee and is a member of the Hellertown Democratic Club and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties union.
He coaches track and field for St. Michael the Archangel School, and with his wife and their son has lived in Hellertown for three-and-a-half years.
There are a total of seven seats on borough council.
According to the borough website, among other things the role of a council member includes:
- Weighing all issues from a big picture perspective
- Maintaining a good relationship with others, even though people do not always agree
- Refraining from being a one-issue official
- Balancing needs with available funding to remain fiscally responsible
Borough council normally meets at 7 p.m. on the first and third Monday of each month at Hellertown Borough Hall. Meetings are open to the public.
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