Hellertown Council & Lower Saucon Council: Meet the Candidates

Print More

If you live in Hellertown borough or Lower Saucon Township, when you go to the polls on Primary Election Day this Tuesday, May 21, you’ll have the opportunity to vote for candidates who want to represent you on each municipality’s respective council.

Council Candidates

Campaign signs dot yards along Magnolia Road in Hellertown borough in advance of the primary election on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

Some of the candidates are incumbents, while others are newcomers. Some of the races are contested (i.e. there are more candidates than there are open seats), while others are not. And in some cases the race is for a partial (two-year) term instead of a full four-year term.

There’s a lot to know before you vote, and we think you should know as much about the candidates as possible; particularly since municipal councils have the authority to decide things such as property tax rates. Councils also approve development proposals, pass ordinances that regulate things like sidewalks, and make other decisions which can affect your quality of life.

Below we have given each council candidate the opportunity to tell you a bit more about themselves and why they deserve your vote. Specifically, we asked the candidates to provide us with the following information: their occupation and a brief statement about why they are running. Optionally, each candidate also had the opportunity to provide a photo and a link to their campaign website/social media channels (if available). The candidates are listed in no particular order according to municipality, and by ballot (Democrat or Republican). Hellertown is listed first; Lower Saucon, second.

Please note that all candidates were contacted, and in some cases via multiple means of communication. If we did not hear back from a candidate we have indicated that below.

You will find information about these races as well as all the others Saucon Valley voters will help decide in our recently-published primary guide.

Polls will be open statewide on Tuesday, May 21 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

HELLERTOWN

DEMOCRATIC BALLOT

Hellertown Borough Council (4-year term).Voters will vote for no more than 3 of the following 4 candidates:

Michael McKenna (Incumbent)

Responded to initial inquiry, but did not submit the information that was requested. No campaign web presence.

Philip Weber (Incumbent, current council vice president)

Occupation: Product Manager – Bethlehem Precast Concrete

Current Activities – Hellertown Borough Council (19 years), Planning Commission (20 years), Saucon Valley Partnership, Saucon Rail Trail Oversight Committee, Dewey Fire Company.

Past Activities – For many years coached youth sports, including football and baseball, and led scouting.

I originally became a member of Hellertown Borough Council member almost 19 years ago. I ran for a seat on Borough Council so I could help my children grow up in a safe, happy and welcoming community, as I was fortunate to have done. As a lifelong resident of Hellertown, I continue on council to see that all of the residents including my own grandchildren will have the experience I did.

In my years on council we were able to help accomplish some very good things for Hellertown. Some examples are Water Street Park, the Saucon Rail Trail, the grandstand and the bandshell in Dimmick Park. We are also installing a new playground in Dimmick Park. Repairs and maintenance to six locally-owned bridges have been undertaken. Coming soon is a Main Street Pedestrian Initiative which will bring significant improvements to signalized and unsignalized crossings along Main Street.

If you will give me your vote I would look forward to continuing my hard work to keep Hellertown a great place to live.

Philip Weber

Earl Hill (Incumbent)

Did not submit the information that was requested. No campaign web presence.

Bill Broun

Occupation: College Professor/Novelist

Hellertown is a beautiful, almost magically sweet little town. It’s culturally rich, commercially up-and-coming and laden with natural wonders. There’s no place on earth I’d rather live, and no place I feel more protective toward.

Sadly, borough hall seems to have forgotten the difference between hearing and listening to ordinary residents.Bill Broun Council Candidate

There’s a shortage of creative thinking and an excess of self-congratulation. And we have a disturbing ethics problem.

I want to help change the culture of Hellertown government, but I need your help.

In the last two months, I’ve spoken one-on-one to dozens of ordinary–well, extraordinary, really–Hellertonians who want change, too, who see surprising, smart possibilities for our town.

They want cleaner, fresher air. They want pedestrian safety. They want a culturally progressive and diverse Main Street and a thriving farmers’ market. They want to guard open and green spaces. They want easier access to and cleaner parks. They want more women on council. They want to protect workers’ safety and jobs. They have an ecological and education-oriented mindset. They want a town that strives–not settles.

I’m the only progressive running for council–maybe the only real Democrat, actually–and I see a brighter future if we make better choices.

My campaign isn’t just about about finding creative solutions to problems.

It’s about an attitude of “how can we do better?” rather than “look how well we’ve done!”

We can do a whole lot better in Hellertown–and we will do better.

Hellertown Borough Council (2-year term). Voters will vote for 1 of the following 4 candidates. Note: This is a special election to fill the remainder of an unexpired term created by the resignation of former councilman Kevin Lott.

Bill Broun

See above.

Matthew S. Marcincin

Did not submit the information that was requested. No campaign web presence.

Earl Hill (Incumbent)

Did not submit the information that was requested. No campaign web presence.

Philip Weber (Incumbent, current council vice president)

See above.

 

REPUBLICAN BALLOT

Hellertown Borough Council (4-year term). Voters will vote for not more than 1 of the following 3 candidates.

Andrew Hughes (Incumbent)

Occupation: Information Technology Security Professional at New York Life, holding professional certifications of CISSP, CISM, CEH and some others.

Education: A college graduate with a B.A. degree from Eastern University and a Master’s certificate in Information Security from Villanova University.

Government Service: Served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve as an Aviation Communication & Navigation Technician; Former Chief Deputy Sheriff of Berks County; Former Municipal Zoning Hearing Board Member.

Community Affiliations: Board of Directors, Hellertown Area Library; Lions Club of Hellertown; Hellertown Historical Society; Hellertown Sportsmen’s Association.

A few years ago my wife and I comfortably downsized to Hellertown. We initially moved here because of the location and affordability. What we have found since then is a tremendous community with a bright future. My employment situation had recently changed, allowing me more time to pursue community service activities. At about the same time a vacancy became available on Hellertown Borough Council. I pursued this opportunity to serve our community. So I was fortunate enough to be appointed five months ago to Borough Council. I view service in local government on equal footing as other community service commitments. To reinforce this belief, I have donated my entire borough council salary to the Hellertown Lions Club since my first check, and will continue to do so until my local government service ends.

I have learned much since my appointment, but there is still much to learn about the operations of local government, its impact on our community and the significant limitations we need to navigate through. I have engaged in professional training and attended seminars to help develop my knowledge of local government. I spend a good bit of time every week reading the various position briefs to become more familiar with the topics that confront us and listening to all members of our Hellertown community for their guidance and input.

What I believe I bring to borough council is a fresh perspective and a very diverse life background to positively contribute to the decisions we make on behalf of our citizens. My goal is about restoring and ensuring balance between the services we provide to our residents and the costs of those same services. We have some unique challenges as a borough from a growth and revenue perspective. I too desire further investments in Hellertown, similar to the ones my wife and I have made to our own home, and wish to make Hellertown a family-friendly location for future generations; but we must also recognize and accept certain economic realities. The “price tag” of our government services is in direct competition with those of the surrounding communities and many folks have choices as to where they live. So we must ensure we understand the full long-term financial impacts of the decisions we make at council.

I have no political party agenda nor a single focus topic, but to act prudently, professionally and respectfully on behalf of all citizens, to do what is the best for the common good of Hellertown. So I ask for your support in the upcoming elections.

Hellertown Borough Council (2-year term). No candidates are running on this ticket.

 

************************

 

LOWER SAUCON TOWNSHIP

DEMOCRATIC BALLOT

Lower Saucon Township Council (4-year term). Voters will vote for not more than 3 of the following 3 candidates.

Priscilla deLeon (Incumbent)

Occupation: Retired Radiologic Technologist

It has been a privilege to serve the residents of Lower Saucon Township. My reasons for serving have not changed. In 1987, because of my concerns about residents’ quality of life and the environment, I ran for council. I am committed to being available to listening, responding to the residents’ needs and respecting their rights when making decisions. I will continue to insist on a more responsive government. I will aggressively enact laws and policies that will protect those rights and improve quality of life. Preserving our sense of place is very important in keeping us unique. Preserving the rural characteristics of our township is a must.

Economic development is crucial to our township, so long as it serves our needs. Controlled commercial growth is important to maintaining a viable tax base, but not at the expense of the health and welfare of the entire community. When considering changes, I will balance your needs and expectations with those of your neighborhood and the entire community. Businesses would need to bring long term benefits, help maintain low taxes, respect our heritage and protect our environment. We want our businesses to be neighbors we can trust and count on to serve all residents’ needs.

I always insist on a detailed budget to maximize the efficiency of your tax dollars through approved expenditures. I continue to look for ways to maintain our tax base without losing services, such as applying for private and government grants.

Thank you for the privilege of serving you. No business or special interest group contributed to my campaign.

Campaign Facebook Page: Re-Elect Councilwoman Priscilla deLeon, Lower Saucon Township

Sarah Stanlick

Occupation: Faculty member in Sociology and Anthropology and Director of the Center for Community Engagement at Lehigh University.
As an educator, researcher and citizen, I care deeply about improving the world through careful consideration, civil dialogue and hard work. When my husband and I moved to Lower Saucon Township in 2013, I was excited to get to work in my new community. I was fortunate to be accepted onto Lower Saucon’s Environmental Advisory Council, and have been serving in that capacity for the last six years. This experience has helped me develop a systems view of local government and the many facets that a township’s leaders must attend to in order to ensure a thriving community. With this significant experience, it was a natural next step to think beyond the environmental decision-making and get involved on a larger scale. My time on the EAC has shown me to be a fair and just steward of Open Space Preservation funds, a creator of educational plans for pressing environmental issues (from the spotted lanternfly to stormwater management) and someone who is not afraid to do the dirty work of road cleanup. Finally, through my job, I am an advocate for civic engagement and nurturing our next generation of civic leaders. By running for township council, I am walking the talk and continuing a lifetime of service that has grown from Girl Scouts to researching at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to our Lower Saucon community. As such, I want to earn and reinforce the confidence of my neighbors township-wide that I can represent them with integrity, respect and positivity.
Campaign Twitter Feed: @Stanlick4Saucon

George J. Gress (Incumbent)

Occupation: Welder

My name is George J. Gress and I am running for Lower Saucon Township Council.

I work for Norfolk Southern Railroad as a welder and have been there for over 20 years.

I was appointed last year to fill the vacancy of the late Glenn Kern. My desire to be on council stems from a history of community service with Se-Wy-Co Fire Company and Lower Saucon Fire Rescue. As president of Se-Wy-Co, I was privileged to assist in the merger with Southeastern Fire Company to provide better service to township residents while consolidating equipment and reducing expenses.

As a resident of Lower Saucon Township since 1985 and a Saucon Valley High School graduate, I was raised here and I am raising my two children here along with my wife, Heather. We, along with thousands of others, see how wonderful our community is. With an outstanding police force, a skilled public works crew and excellent emergency services, I will do everything in my power to ensure that we only improve from here. I will use a common sense approach to decision making, while being fiscally responsible for the future.

I can be reached anytime at g.gress@lowersaucontownship.org. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and Lower Saucon Township.

Lower Saucon Township Council (2-year term). Vote for not more than 1 of 1. Note: This is a special election to fill the remainder of an unexpired term created by the resignation of former councilman Glenn Kern.

Kaitlyn O’Connor Sommer

Occupation: I am an attorney who is currently taking time away from my profession to raise my three kids (and hopefully serve on the township council).
I moved to Lower Saucon Township in 2013 with my husband Zach after we finished serving in the Navy. We have three children: a four-year-old, two-year-old and a six-month-old, and are thrilled to be able to raise them in such a wonderful community. I am running for township council because I hope to bring new leadership to the council at a time when we need fresh, learned ideas to solve challenges and create opportunities for the people of Lower Saucon Township. I have been incredibly impressed with Lower Saucon since moving here: by the exceptional services provided, the efforts put forth to preserve the natural resources of the township, and most importantly the kind, outgoing residents who have welcomed us into this community. If elected to serve as council member, I will work to preserve the unique character of Lower Saucon Township and to help facilitate community building, increase conservation and maintain support for emergency services throughout the township.

 

REPUBLICAN BALLOT

Lower Saucon Township Council (4-year term). Vote for not more than 3 of 3 of the following candidates.

Sandra Yerger (Incumbent)

Occupation: Senior Development Associate-Grants, Heritage Conservancy

I have lived in the township my entire life, both in Seidersville and now in the eastern section of the township. Having lived on both the more populated side of the township and the rural portion of the township has given me a unique personal perspective on the issues that face the majority of township residents.

Lower Saucon is blessed with extraordinary resources including fertile agricultural fields, beautiful woodlands and high quality streams. The township has experienced many changes over the years. It is because of these changes that I became involved with the community. My goal for the township is not to prevent change, but to work to ensure that any changes would be for the betterment of the community and all its residents. I volunteered for many years with scouts and recreational sports, but I became directly involved with the township when I advocated to township council to purchase the land that is now Polk Valley Park.

I helped to create Lower Saucon’s Environmental Advisory Council that I have chaired for 17 years. In that capacity, I helped spearhead three open space referenda that were overwhelmingly supported by Lower Saucon’s voters to fund the protection of acres of our farmland, natural lands and acquisition and maintenance of our parks. To date, thanks to Lower Saucon voters, we have protected nearly 700 acres. It has been proven by many studies that communities that have protected open space and provided for outdoor recreation not only preserve the beauty of their community but also preserve the real estate values of their homes and limit the need to raise township taxes.

I am currently serving a third term on the township’s planning commission and volunteer as our township historian. As township historian, I have worked to have both the Lutz-Franklin Schoolhouse and the Heller Homestead placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Due to that status, I was able to help the Lower Saucon Township Historical Society receive a significant grant to restore the schoolhouse’s exterior at no cost to the taxpayer.

I supported the current limited southeast expansion of the landfill. The funding of services for township residents has been greatly dependent upon fees received from the landfill. But like many businesses, the future of the landfill is finite and we need to prepare for when those funds will no longer be available. The loss of landfill income could create a significant tax increase for township residents, so township council needs to find alternative sources to provide long-term funding for the township’s needs. I promise to work with residents, businesses and government officials to find the best resources that will provide that funding to keep Lower Saucon Township a vibrant community for current residents and their children.

I have served the residents of Lower Saucon for many years. I respectfully ask township voters to support my goals of maintaining the high quality of life for all residents.

Jason Banonis

Occupation: Attorney

Jason Banonis is a 20-year-resident of Lower Saucon Township.

I want to be a voice for positive change in this township, for now and for the future. I offer my personal commitment, professional experience and past service to this community as the foundation to my candidacy dedicated to fairness, respect and improving the quality of life for all in our township.

The focus issues of my campaign include the preservation of open spaces and parks, which are so vital to the culture and heritage of the township; the development of alternative sources of revenue to sustain a fiscally responsible budget; improved decision-making within the council; and an equal voice for all regions of the township.

I pledge to bring a civil and professional approach to all deliberations of the council. To that extent, I invite any and all residents of the township to reach out to me with your questions, concerns and suggestions. I assure you they will be given my most thoughtful consideration.

My wife Mary and I are decades-long residents of Lower Saucon Township. Our sons Andrew, 13, and Zachary, 11, are students in the Saucon Valley School District. I have served on the Lower Saucon Zoning Hearing Board for more than 10 years, including five years as chairman. I have also been active for years in the township’s Little League and youth basketball programs, serving as both a board member and a coach.

Professionally I am a managing attorney and shareholder of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman and Goggin, a 500-lawyer regional civil litigation defense firm with offices in Allentown and throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Ohio, Florida and New York. I currently serve as president-elect of the Pennsylvania Defense Institute, which has a membership of more than 400 lawyers and insurance company executives from across Pennsylvania.

Donna Louder (Incumbent)

Occupation: Mammographer
As an incumbent candidate, I am seeking re-election to continue serving the taxpayers as a liaison/voice for their concerns. I feel strongly about the infrastructure issues within the township. There are areas with storm water issues as well as areas with septic concerns.
Our financial future has been secured with the recent payoff of township debt, and I will remain diligent on monitoring spending practices.
The administrative staff has continued to maintain excellent service to the residents while meeting the township’s daily needs.
Our Public Works department was able to improve our road conditions by increasing the scheduled miles to be repaired. The road work schedule is on the township website.
Our police department is changing its administrative aspects to include new policies and improved community involvement.
With the increase to our fire tax, we are afforded the ability to purchase necessary equipment. I will also continue to support our volunteer fire companies as a council liaison.
I am also interested in revisiting the possibility of offering an incentive to businesses who would make Lower Saucon their home.
With this said, I feel there are still improvements that can become a reality and I would like to be a part of this growth.

Lower Saucon Township Council (2-year term). Vote for not more than 1 of 2 of the following candidates. Note: This is a special election to fill the remainder of an unexpired term created by the resignation of former councilman Glenn Kern.

Donna Louder (Incumbent)

See above.

Jason Banonis

See above.

A Reminder for all voters: Voters can easily check their registration status and determine their polling location and districts here. This information is also printed on the voter registration card. To view the Democratic and Republican ballots for Hellertown borough and Lower Saucon Township, click here. The Borough of Hellertown sample ballots are located on pages 83-85 of the PDF. The Lower Saucon Township sample ballots are located on pages 96-103.

Leave a Review or Comment