Community Elections Government

Meet the Candidates: 2023 Hellertown Borough Council Primary

Hellertown Primary Election Candidates

If you live in Hellertown Borough and are registered to vote as a Republican or Democrat, you have the opportunity to vote for candidates running for borough council in the upcoming municipal primary election. To help our readers be informed voters, Saucon Source recently reached out to all five candidates running for seats on Hellertown Borough Council to request information about why they’re running, what challenges they believe the borough faces and more.

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If you live in Hellertown Borough and are registered to vote as a Republican or Democrat, you have the opportunity to vote for candidates running for borough council in the upcoming municipal primary election. To help our readers be informed voters, Saucon Source recently reached out to all five candidates running for seats on Hellertown Borough Council to request information about why they’re running, what challenges they believe the borough faces and more. You will find their responses below, along with a photo if one was provided.

Pennsylvania has closed primary elections in which only registered Republicans and Democrats may vote for candidates from their own parties. The winners from on both sides advance to the general election in November, which is an open election. Since Andrew Hughes is the only Republican candidate for a council seat, he will presumably appear on the November ballot. The other borough council candidates are four Democrats who are vying for the three open seats on council. Therefore, the three Democratic candidates who receive the most votes on May 16 will advance to the general election.

Hellertown borough council members are elected to serve four-year terms. The council has seven members, three of whom are candidates in the current election. Their status as incumbents in the race is denoted below with an (I).

To view a complete list of candidates who will appear on the ballot in the 2023 municipal primary elections in Northampton County, refer to the list published by the county’s office of voter registration.

Additional information about where and how to vote in the upcoming primary election is available at Vote.pa.gov. Look for additional “Meet the Candidates” articles about the Lower Saucon Township Council primary election and the Saucon Valley School Board primary election in the near future.

 

REPUBLICAN

Andrew Hughes (I)

Andrew HughesPlease share why you are running for Hellertown Borough Council.

I was fortunate to be appointed to Borough Council in 2018 and elected in 2021. My reasons then and today remain the same; I view service in local government on equal footing as other community service commitments. We all have an obligation to serve our community and to positively contribute based on our diverse life experiences. I believe both my very diverse life experiences and more recent service on Borough Council position me well to act prudently, professionally and respectfully on behalf of all the citizens to do what is best for the common good of Hellertown. So, I am seeking another term to continue that service.

What do you think is the biggest challenge currently facing the borough?

Ensuring balance between the local government services we provide to our residents and their taxpayer costs is the top issue that faces Hellertown. The Borough has some unique revenue challenges. I, too, desire further investments and wish to make Hellertown a family-friendly location for future generations, but we must also recognize and accept certain economic realities. We must ensure we understand the long-term financial impacts of the routine decisions we make at Council.

If elected to council, how do you plan to address it and other challenges?

I believe increasing our financial transparency and making tougher financial decisions will help restore this balance. I have recently been appointed Chair of the Borough Finance Committee, where we have been learning, gathering and sharing our findings with both our colleagues and the community on a monthly basis to help prepare the decision-making process. If elected, I will continue to serve relentlessly towards an improved balance of government services and financial costs to the taxpayers.

 

DEMOCRAT

Liz Thompson (I)

Please share why you are running for Hellertown Borough Council.

Hellertown is a community that I have fallen in love with and as someone who goes all in in all I do, I want to be part of the solutions when issues arise. I first joined the Planning Commission and started attending training opportunities offered by the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Education Institute to better understand the roles and interactions of both the Planning Commission and the Borough Council. I was a regular attendee of Council meetings long before I was appointed to fill a Council vacancy; I was asking questions and standing up to speak at Council meetings. My presence, and engagement at meetings, I feel, is why Council unanimously voted to appoint me to fill a Council vacancy in 2022. My goals are to continue to keep the community feel of Hellertown while balancing out the need to keep Hellertown strong as we embrace the future. I want to continue to be a voice for Hellertown residents. I have really enjoyed hearing from residents who have concerns and working to assist them with solutions.

What do you think is the biggest challenge currently facing the borough?

There are a few challenges in front of us. One is that we have not been immune to the impacts of inflation and Council needs to carefully weigh the potential benefits of development with the potential strain on our community, emergency services and public works. Another challenge is the tension that the majority of Lower Saucon Township Council has caused between the two communities and HAL (Hellertown Area Library).

If elected to council, how do you plan to address it and other challenges?

I will continue to speak up, ensuring the best interests of Hellertown are heard before decisions are made. Additionally, I will continue to support restored relationships with Lower Saucon Township and the Hellertown Area Library. It is undeniable that the actions of the majority of LST Council has damaged relationships, but it is reasonable to think that with the right people in place we can restore community relationships and get LST residents back to HAL.

Larry Sutton

Please share why you are running for Hellertown Borough Council.

Community. That’s the word that describes my vision for Hellertown. If you grew up in Hellertown, you have good memories of a community where neighbors worked and played together. Like all small towns, however, it has changed over time. We built interstates and malls, and most businesses left. Bethlehem Steel closed. Then social media spread our “community” around the world. We can’t go backwards, but we can adapt to become a magnet location where residents again want to shop, eat and play together; where businesses want to locate; where our reputation is that of a preferred place to live. It takes a strategic plan that starts with a vision of what we can be; it takes collaboration by government, businesses and civic organizations to be sure we all win; and, it takes planning to put together all the parts.

I am running for Council because I can contribute to that future Community! I have 40-plus years of management and leadership positions in the military, hospital, manufacturing, real estate and nonprofit fields. I have a cumulative total of 66 service years among 11 different volunteer community organizations, including the Hellertown Zoning Hearing Board, and currently as President of the Hellertown Historical Society. My invitation to others: Get involved!

What do you think is the biggest challenge currently facing the borough?

An immediate challenge is the disruption of partnerships with Lower Saucon Township. Elected officials are called to serve their constituents, not themselves. In my opinion, recent decisions by LST Council are not the views of residents. Since it also affects Hellertown residents, it has to be addressed.

Our long-term challenge is stagnation in a changing environment. The world is changing around us. To survive as a community, we have to thrive as a community.

If elected to council, how do you plan to address it and other challenges?

Voters can reverse the direction of LST. Meanwhile, we should use dialogue before litigation, be transparent with facts and seek a return to partnerships.

A joint task force with the City of Bethlehem can explore cooperation on common interests, such as traffic, housing and economic development.

My long-term vision is a collaboration by businesses, government (including neighboring jurisdictions) and residents on a strategic plan that sets Hellertown apart from other towns in the Valley.

Lynley Solt

Please share why you are running for Hellertown Borough Council.

I moved to Hellertown with my family seven years ago. One thing that I have noticed since we moved here is the lack of women candidates running for council in Hellertown. While there are two women currently serving, we need to do better to represent all of the citizens in our community. I wanted to be a part of that move towards more representation.    

Since moving to the borough, I have truly found an amazing community that I am proud to call home.

What do you think is the biggest challenge currently facing the borough?

My biggest concern for Hellertown is how we continue to provide the level of service and quality of life to which our community is accustomed with funds from the limited tax base. 

If elected to council, how do you plan to address it and other challenges?

If I were elected, I would be mindful of the budget while we continue to capitalize on available grants that benefit the borough’s residents. I would also be supportive of appropriate development which attracts more diverse downtown businesses while strengthening the tax base. Looking for opportunities that positively impact the Borough of Hellertown.

 

Michael T. McKenna (I)

Please share why you are running for Hellertown Borough Council.

For the past couple of years, we have suffered under the world-wide pandemic. The Borough’s recovery has been steady and remains strong. My focus for the next few years will be to get the Borough back to its pre-pandemic fiscal strength. To accomplish this, I will ensure a strong fiscal policy, including long-term budgeting and management of our infrastructure and capital assets.

I will also continue to focus on our stormwater infrastructure, making certain our compliance with the NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit for our municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s).

What do you think is the biggest challenge currently facing the borough?

Hellertown and Lower Saucon Township have had a long history of working cooperatively on regional issues that affect both communities. For example, we have a joint Comprehensive Plan, which makes the recent dissolution of the Council of Governments heartbreaking. It is vital that we renew our partnership and continue to work towards our common Saucon Valley goals.

If elected to council, how do you plan to address it and other challenges?

Together with Hellertown Borough Council, I have been working to develop plans that will renew our partnership with Lower Saucon Township by renegotiating fair and beneficial agreements. I will reach across the aisle to arrange to sit down with LST Council to resolve our issues. We are stronger when we work together.

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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at josh@sauconsource.com.

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