Community Elections Government

Election 2023: Where Do Lower Saucon Council Candidates Stand on the Issues?

Saucon Source recently asked the six candidates running for three seats on Lower Saucon Township Council to answer the same five questions, to help our readers be better informed about this important local race.

Est. Read Time: 23 mins

Saucon Source recently asked the six candidates running for three seats on Lower Saucon Township Council to answer the same five questions, and provided a word limit, to help our readers be better informed about this important local race.

Below are their answers, along with a photo of the corresponding candidate (if provided), as well as links to additional information on campaign sites/social media and email contacts, if provided.

The answers have been edited for grammar, punctuation and editorial style, as well as length. If the 175 word limit was exceeded, answers end after the sentence that contains the 175th word.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7, when polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. View a sample ballot on the Northampton County website and find your polling station at Vote.PA.gov.

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Priscilla deLeon (D, Incumbent)

Priscilla deLeonThe impact of fees paid by Bethlehem Landfill to LST on the township’s budget is well-documented and figures prominently in ongoing discussions about the facility’s proposed expansion. How do you believe the landfill’s closure will impact township finances-positively or negatively-and ultimately, taxpayers? What evidence can you provide to support your view?

The notion of taxes increasing when the landfill closes is a scare tactic, but let’s put the township taxes in perspective. We will not have a 30 percent shortfall. Audit reports of the past five years show that on average, 95.72 percent of our budget is funded by sources other than landfill revenue, even with paying off the township’s debt. The current council majority has abdicated its fiscal and ethical responsibilities by allowing the Solicitor and Manager to approve spending without Council’s prior approval. This is unprecedented. It’s outrageous that the township has spent $359,781 on legal fees since last December and, more troubling, spent $3.5 million of our cash reserves on outside contractors instead of using our own public works department. We will, as a new majority, exercise restraint in spending of taxpayer funds without losing services by balancing the budget to maximize the efficiency of your tax dollars through approved expenditures. New homes and businesses will also bring in more tax revenue.

Has your campaign ever accepted money or in-kind services or benefited directly or indirectly from financial support by the landfill, its subsidiaries, special interest groups, PACs or any other individual or group with an interest in the landfill’s proposed expansion? If “yes,” please explain.

NO, my campaign has never accepted money or in-kind services or benefited directly or indirectly from financial support by the landfill, its subsidiaries, special interest groups, PACs or any other individual or group with an interest in the landfill’s proposed expansion. One of my opponents, Sandra Yerger, was listed on Responsible Solutions for Pennsylvania’s Campaign Finance Report Form (Landfill PAC) in the 2015 council race. According to an article published in the Morning Call on Nov. 4, 2015 (‘One landfill-supported candidate in, the other out in close Lower Saucon race’), “The landfill dumped nearly $124,000 into the race.” The total amount, according to an article published on Lehigh Valley Ramblings on Feb. 4, 2016, “Adding it all up, IESI spent $146,796.67 to buy a local government.” Responsible Solutions for Pennsylvania sent out a recent mailer mentioning Yerger, Inglis and Blair for council. Don’t be fooled by their scare statements on their propaganda. My Republican opponents, in my opinion, have benefited indirectly. LOWER SAUCON TOWNSHIP IS NOT FOR SALE!

Township council recently submitted an offer to the Borough of Hellertown that included two years’ worth of funding for the Hellertown Area Library. Do you support a service reunification between Lower Saucon Township and HAL and do you think it was a fair offer? Please explain.

I support rejoining Hellertown Area Library by negotiating a third party contract and ending the litigation. I voted NO to the offer because the actual motion was directed only to the Borough of Hellertown and did not include HAL, a separate entity. It included unrealistic conditions. How can the current council majority have our residents’ best interests at heart? Throw the community an unrealistic bone and the residents will forget all about their votes and actions regarding the compost center, library, pool and landfill debacle. Let’s not forget the uncivilized treatment of residents at council meetings. As of Sept. 30, 2023, $172,379.51 has been spent on Library legal fees and still no home library. The Borough’s letter sums it up like it is: “It is our hope that Lower Saucon residents see through this political ploy and realize that new leadership is needed if the two communities are going to work together in the future.” This is nothing more than a smoke screen to blind people for the Nov. 7 election to get votes for their candidates.

What do you see as the root cause(s) of the township’s breakdown in relations with Hellertown borough? What, if anything, would you do on council to improve relations, and why or why not?

I am saddened by the current state of affairs in the township, especially during the last two years. I am used to working with peers in a non-partisan way. I started seeing the breakdown in 2021, starting with the Library negotiations for a new contract. I would start by offering to have a face-to-face meeting with Borough of Hellertown Council and HAL officials to discuss the issues that have divided us and work them out in a respectful manner. Let’s drop the lawsuits. We have spent way too much money on legal fees. We can work this out. I would immediately set dates for the Saucon Valley Partnership (SVP) to resume. The SVP, a Council of Governments, which I helped create, was founded in 2004 with the goal of improving the quality of life for residents of the Saucon Valley area. Together we can work on access to the Saucon Valley Compost Center, the Hellertown Pool and full library services. I will work to bring our community together again.

Please discuss your life, professional, volunteer and other experiences and any other relevant skills or personal qualities. How do you think they will be an asset to the township if you’re elected?

It has been an honor and a privilege serving on Council for the past 35 years. This gives me an advantage, knowing the historical background on many issues facing the township today. My reasons for serving have not changed. I ran in 1987 because of my concerns for the residents’ quality of life and the environment. My focus is on preserving the rural character of this beautiful Township by controlled growth and preservation of open space. I am committed to being available to listen and respond to the residents’ needs and respecting their rights when making decisions, insisting on a more responsive government. I am retired. I was employed for over 20 years as a radiologic technologist in the Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley areas. I grew up in the Slate Belt. I love spending my free time with family, taking pictures, planting flowers, camping, listening to live bands, music and dancing. Vote for Priscilla deLeon, Victoria Opthof-Cordaro and Laura Ray for a new council majority to bring our community together again.

Campaign website: Saucon Valley Together
Campaign Facebook page: Saucon Valley Together
Email: sa******************@gm***.com

Sandra Yerger (R, Incumbent)

Sandy YergerThe impact of fees paid by Bethlehem Landfill to LST on the township’s budget is well-documented and figures prominently in ongoing discussions about the facility’s proposed expansion. How do you believe the landfill’s closure will impact township finances-positively or negatively-and ultimately, taxpayers? What evidence can you provide to support your view?

The landfill currently provides approximately 21 percent of the township’s revenue. The township’s estimated major expenses in our 2024 budget include our Police Department (38 percent), Public Works Department (19 percent) for road infrastructure and maintenance, Administration (5 percent), Fire and EMS (4 percent), Insurances (3 percent), and Parks and Library expenses (3 percent) and (25 percent) to other funds or reallocated to future reserves. As with most municipalities and residents, Lower Saucon’s costs are increasing faster than tax revenue, especially over the last year due to inflation. Currently some of the landfill income is being put into a fund to pay for unexpected expenses, but the majority is being placed in a savings fund to prepare for the ultimate closure of the landfill. This preparation will help the township and its residents through the financial loss of the landfill.

Has your campaign ever accepted money or in-kind services or benefited directly or indirectly from financial support by the landfill, its subsidiaries, special interest groups, PACs or any other individual or group with an interest in the landfill’s proposed expansion? If “yes,” please explain.*

Our campaign has not accepted any campaign contributions from the Bethlehem Landfill or any group affiliated with the Bethlehem Landfill. Our campaign is funded by individual donations. … I have not had any communication with any (political) action committee. As you are well aware, I voted against the landfill expansion. Like all PACs, they have the right to express their own opinions, which I have no control over.

Township council recently submitted an offer to the Borough of Hellertown that included two years’ worth of funding for the Hellertown Area Library. Do you support a service reunification between Lower Saucon Township and HAL and do you think it was a fair offer? Please explain.

I do support a service reunification, provided that Hellertown will agree to have equal representation on the library board. I do believe this was a fair offer, especially in light of the actual number of Lower Saucon residents who use the library.

What do you see as the root cause(s) of the township’s breakdown in relations with Hellertown borough? What if anything would you do on Council to improve relations, and why or why not?

I believe the root cause of the township’s breakdown in relations with Hellertown borough was caused by a breakdown in accurate communications between the boards.

Please discuss your life, professional, volunteer and other experiences and any other relevant skills or personal qualities? How do you think they will be an asset to the township if you’re elected?

I have lived my entire life in Lower Saucon Township, both on the eastern and western sides of the community, thus giving me a broader perspective and understanding of the lifestyles and needs of our residents. My years of experience of working with multiple communities to protect natural and historic resources in Bucks and Northampton counties by promoting the benefits of land conservation, natural resource protection and historic preservation enabled me to establish an open space program in Lower Saucon Township. This program has protected many acres of farmland and natural areas, created much-needed parks and recreational areas, and protected our waterways, woodlands and other natural resources that help define the beauty and history of our township. I have served as the volunteer township historian, working with the PA Department of Historic Preservation to place the Lutz-Franklin Schoolhouse on the National Historic Registry. This status ensures that this extraordinarily rare one-room stone schoolhouse will be protected in perpetuity for residents of all ages to learn about life in Lower Saucon Township in the 19th century.

Victoria Opthof-Cordaro (D)

VictoriaThe impact of fees paid by Bethlehem Landfill to LST on the township’s budget is well-documented and figures prominently in ongoing discussions about the facility’s proposed expansion. How do you believe the landfill’s closure will impact township finances-positively or negatively-and ultimately, taxpayers? What evidence can you provide to support your view?

Lower Saucon Council had positioned our budget to pay for our township expenses without landfill tipping fees. We were placing the landfill tipping fees into a reserve account that was growing. In 2021, a council majority including one of our opponents all voted to reduce taxes that supported our fire services (Lower Saucon Fire Rescue). This caused increased budget expenses for fire services. Between 2022 and the projected 2024 budget, this same council majority voted to increase our expenses by 40 percent. They approved millions of dollars in poorly-planned projects, legal fees on at least four different lawsuits and legal fees to defund our library. I believe with proper fiscal management and a reduction of wasteful spending, our township can get back to banking the remaining four years of landfill tipping fees and keep our taxes in line. The township yearly audits confirm the numbers. The township finance officer keeps the running tab of legal fees, which I understand to be close to $350,000 this year alone.

Has your campaign ever accepted money or in-kind services or benefited directly or indirectly from financial support by the landfill, its subsidiaries, special interest groups, PACs or any other individual or group with an interest in the landfill’s proposed expansion? If “yes,” please explain.

I have never accepted money or in-kind services or benefited directly or indirectly from financial support by the landfill, its subsidiaries, special interest groups, PAC or any other individual or group with an interest in the landfill’s proposed expansion. I am appalled that in 2015 Sandra Yerger was supported by the landfill PAC. I am equally appalled that in 2021, the landfill PAC spent $100,000 to support a council majority. I believe these council members, including my opponents, should have recused themselves in any votes made concerning the landfill expansion. Instead, they voted to green light landfilling on 275 acres, 200 of which were in conservation easements. These council members also voted to destroy those conservation easements and agree to a new 20-plus year host agreement that does not account for inflation. Now, the landfill PAC is back at it, supporting my opponents with at least mailers and door knockers. I believe residents want leadership that represents them, not developers or the garbage. Priscilla, Laura and I will be leaders for our community not for the landfill or special interests.

Township council recently submitted an offer to the Borough of Hellertown that included two years’ worth of funding for the Hellertown Area Library. Do you support a service reunification between Lower Saucon Township and HAL and do you think it was a fair offer? Please explain.

I believe our township should fund public library services through a contract with Hellertown Area Library (HAL). I do not believe the offer made by the council majority was fair. The offer was not made to the independent, non-profit organization, HAL. Instead, the council majority addressed the offer only to the Borough, sidestepping the very entity that has the ability to consider its contents. The offer included demands for the Borough to sell the compost center to Lower Saucon, which has nothing to do with library services. Finally, the offer was made without enough time for the library to request inclusion of Lower Saucon residents in the state funding formula. This means the demands for “access services” as part of the agreement could not be complied with. Our Council majority knew or should have known their offer could not be taken seriously. I believe our township residents will see through this veiled attempt to win back voters. Priscilla, Laura and I will negotiate in good faith for a long-term contract to reunify our Saucon Valley community.

What do you see as the root cause(s) of the township’s breakdown in relations with Hellertown borough? What, if anything, would you do on council to improve relations, and why or why not?

I believe the township’s failure to negotiate in good faith with Hellertown Area Library (HAL) and Hellertown Borough in 2021, and the council majority’s vote to defund HAL in 2022 caused much of the fracture between Hellertown and Lower Saucon. I also believe that our Council majority’s continued public insults and criticisms of individual elected officials and volunteers of HAL has caused significant lack of trust of our Lower Saucon Council majority. I pledge to immediately open respectful and open dialogue with HAL and Hellertown Borough, to rebuild trust and work as a community together. I will work to rekindle the trusting and respectful relationship with Hellertown Borough we once had. I will work to re-establish services at the Saucon Valley Compost Center and Hellertown Pool. Working with our community partners and other elected officials is a core requirement for any elected official. Priscilla, Laura and I will provide the leadership necessary in our township and work across the table with our neighbors for the benefit of Lower Saucon residents.

Please discuss your life, professional, volunteer and other experiences and any other relevant skills or personal qualities. How do you think they will be an asset to the township if you’re elected?

I grew up in Lower Saucon, graduating from SVHS in 2002. After graduating law school, I returned to the Lehigh Valley with my husband to start our family. I have served on the boards of various non-profits, including Safe Harbor in Easton and Northampton County League of Women Voters. In my legal practice, I had the opportunity to serve as the assistant solicitor to Palmer Township. My husband and I have two children. After discovering our youngest child suffers from a rare genetic disorder, SCN2A, I stepped away from the active practice of law to concentrate on the care and advocacy of my children and their special needs. I currently advocate for the special needs community and for residents in the township wanting to protect the services and quality of life they rely upon. My desire to maintain the gem of our Saucon Valley community led me to run for office. My legal and community experience make me uniquely qualified to advocate for a brighter future in Lower Saucon Township and the Saucon Valley community.

Campaign website: SauconValleyTogether.com
Campaign Facebook page: Saucon Valley Together
Email: sa******************@gm***.com

Mark Inglis (R, Incumbent)

The impact of fees paid by Bethlehem Landfill to LST on the township’s budget is well-documented and figures prominently in ongoing discussions about the facility’s proposed expansion. How do you believe the landfill’s closure will impact township finances-positively or negatively-and ultimately, taxpayers? What evidence can you provide to support your view?

The Bethlehem Landfill is a vital revenue source for LST. With their yearly contributions through our host agreement, we have been able to REDUCE TAXES and still keep township services to a premium. Going forward, one just has to look at our 2024 budget to see the benefits of the landfill’s host fees. We would not be able to function the way we do without their money. Sure, we could reduce some expenses here and there, but not large chunks of money that would be needed to make up for the loss of the landfill revenue. I would ask my opponents one question: How do we balance our budget with less money? Some say, we have money in the bank and can use that. That’s fine for a year or two, but what about going forward. There is no revenue source large enough to cover our expenses. The only solution is to RAISE TAXES and that is a fact. Just ask some of our neighboring communities who are struggling with budgets. Their only solution is to raise taxes and nobody wants that.

Has your campaign ever accepted money or in-kind services or benefited directly or indirectly from financial support by the landfill, its subsidiaries, special interest groups, PACs or any other individual or group with an interest in the landfill’s proposed expansion? If “yes,” please explain.*

Our campaign has not accepted any contributions from the Bethlehem Landfill or any other political committee. All of our funding has come from local residents and friends. Our campaign finance reports will reflect that. They are public, so anyone can review them. … I received a flyer in the mail promoting support for our election. As one can see, it was not endorsed or supported by us. It was an outside group that sent it out. We have absolutely no control over who supports us and who supports our opponents. We have had zero communication with any PAC or with the Bethlehem Landfill. In America, you are free to support any person or group you choose to. Once again, just look at our campaign finance report, a legal document. It will disclose any donation that we have received. If one remembers, the Democrats funded ads for Doug Mastriano, a Republican, in the primary, because they figured he would be easy to beat, which he was. My point is, anyone can support who they want and the campaigns don’t have any say in it.

Township council recently submitted an offer to the Borough of Hellertown that included two years’ worth of funding for the Hellertown Area Library. Do you support a service reunification between Lower Saucon Township and HAL and do you think it was a fair offer? Please explain.

We recently offered Hellertown a $125,000/year offer for two years to start a library reunification. I believe Hellertown contributes about $60,000/year. We believe that was a fair offer and would give us/them time to investigate and hopefully start a regional library system with our neighbors. It is too expensive today to duplicate services and staff. Most small towns, boroughs, townships, etc., have a limited amount of resources available and those resources must prioritize public safety and public service first. When it comes to budget time and there isn’t enough money to go around, what services would be cut first? It was unfortunate that the offer was not accepted. Some on borough council said they couldn’t accept the offer because HAL was an independent body. We disagree. The Office of Open Records has determined that HAL is an arm of the Borough of Hellertown and even if there were some technicalities, I’m sure LST and Hellertown could work their way through them. I do find it interesting that Hellertown has not made one offer or a counter offer to us.

What do you see as the root cause(s) of the township’s breakdown in relations with Hellertown borough? What if anything would you do on Council to improve relations, and why or why not?

The Hellertown/LST political divide (everybody still talks and gets along and frequents each other’s businesses; in fact, my business is located in Hellertown) started with a funding discrepancy with the library. It then escalated to the Borough removing us from the compost center and pulling an accounting gimmick with the pool. We then offered to settle the compost center account and break up the partnership. Ironically, Hellertown has never followed up with our offer. It would be a very simple, non-controversial settlement. One has to ask why? Going forward, after the election, we will try again to mend fences politically. I think there will have to be some give and take on both sides, and hopefully, things will calm down. On another note, we made an offer to purchase the compost center outright. We would give Hellertown complete access to all services and we would be able to link Polk Valley Park and the compost center land. Our plan would be to build an extensive park and recreational facility with multiple fields and a turf field for year-round use.

Please discuss your life, professional, volunteer and other experiences and any other relevant skills or personal qualities. How do you think they will be an asset to the township if you’re elected?

I am 57 and a lifelong resident of Lower Saucon Township. I am the co-owner of Freedom Lawn Care and Landscaping. I have been married for 30 years to my wife, Kimberly. We have three daughters, all of whom have gone through the SV School District. I myself am a graduate of SV High School and Moravian University with a degree in business. Due to my 40-plus years running my own business, I am uniquely qualified to serve on council. I have a vast knowledge of how public works should operate, how budgets should be formulated and an overall general knowledge of how to run a small township. Another interesting fact: My wife has been a first grade teacher for over 30 years, specializing in reading. So, when it comes to the value of a library, I am well-versed in the benefits that it brings to a community. My goal as a council member is to see through some of the projects that we have started. We believe in keeping open space, up-to-date recreational facilities, healthy police and fire services, a strong office staff and a low tax rate.

Laura Ray (D)

Laura RayThe impact of fees paid by Bethlehem Landfill to LST on the township’s budget is well-documented and figures prominently in ongoing discussions about the facility’s proposed expansion. How do you believe the landfill’s closure will impact township finances-positively or negatively-and ultimately, taxpayers? What evidence can you provide to support your view?

Taxpayers should not be impacted. Past councils planned for the landfill’s closure. Debts were paid down in 2018 and paid off in 2019. The plan was to build up cash reserves during the final years of active landfill operations in the township. The landfill and the majority on council imply there would be a 30 percent shortfall if the landfill closed by repeatedly saying the landfill funds 30 percent of the budget. This is NOT true. We saw in 2020 and 2021, that 100 percent and more of our expenses were covered by revenue that did NOT come from the landfill. Research was done using the figures from the township’s audited budget reports. The information can be reviewed at SauconValleyTogether.com/lst-fact-check. 2022 would have been the same except that the council majority started adding on extra unplanned expenses, such as the $1,070,793 to repave Saucon Terrace using an outside contractor. Normally, paving projects are handled by the township’s public works department. We also had increased legals fees as well as a $50,000 donation made to Southern Lehigh Public Library.

Has your campaign ever accepted money or in-kind services or benefited directly or indirectly from financial support by the landfill, its subsidiaries, special interest groups, PACs or any other individual or group with an interest in the landfill’s proposed expansion? If “yes,” please explain.

No, I have not personally, nor has our campaign PAC, Saucon Valley Together, accepted any campaign donations or in-kind services from the Bethlehem Landfill or others affiliated with it. Responsible Solutions for Pennsylvania, a PAC funded by the landfill, has funded past campaigns supporting current council members Yerger, Banonis and Carocci. Then the three of them appointed Mark Inglis after the resignation of Jennifer Zavacky. Now that same PAC has begun its campaign to support the current Republican slate. I feel it is an extreme conflict of interest that they have all voted on matters that directly benefit the landfill. Sadly, we see quid pro quo happen in upper levels of government and that behavior seems to have made its way to Lower Saucon.

Township council recently submitted an offer to the Borough of Hellertown that included two years’ worth of funding for the Hellertown Area Library. Do you support a service reunification between Lower Saucon Township and HAL and do you think it was a fair offer? Please explain.

I support re-establishing a long-term agreement with HAL as our home library. The offer made was not fair for several reasons. First, it was made to the Borough of Hellertown and not HAL. It was “take it or leave it,” with a short deadline. Due to the timing, it allowed almost no time for the library to update paperwork for the Office of Commonwealth Libraries to indicate that Lower Saucon Township should be included in its service area for 2024. That would prevent HAL from being able to provide Access PA to our residents in 2024 and from receiving state funding for the larger service area. The offer was only for two years. That doesn’t provide much financial stability. Perhaps that was done to coincide with the next municipal election so it could be used as a campaign promise. Trying to strong-arm the Borough into selling the compost center as part of the offer is ridiculous. One has nothing to do with the other. The same can be said of including how annual pool passes are handled as part of the same offer.

What do you see as the root cause(s) of the township’s breakdown in relations with Hellertown borough? What if anything would you do on Council to improve relations, and why or why not?

I think a past personal matter has created an ongoing vendetta against several Hellertown representatives. The township leadership cannot seem to put aside personal feelings and act in the residents’ best interest. Hellertown has made it clear they want to work with the township to restore relationships if they have reasonable leadership to work with. The Saucon Valley Together slate of candidates, which is Priscilla deLeon, Victoria Opthof-Cordaro and myself, will provide that reasonable leadership. We are willing to openly discuss and negotiate to resolve the issues in our community. We are on good terms with the Hellertown representatives and would be able to have an open dialogue with them. I’d want to end the lawsuits and set up face-to-face meetings to discuss the issues and come to mutual agreements. These are not matters to be resolved by having a lawyer send over a one-sided list of demands with a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum. I would also strongly encourage Hellertown and the Saucon Valley School District to restart meetings of the Saucon Valley Partnership.

Please discuss your life, professional, volunteer and other experiences and any other relevant skills or personal qualities. How do you think they will be an asset to the township if you’re elected?

I grew up in Saucon Valley and raised my daughter here. I have always felt strongly about serving my community. I’ve volunteered for decades with several non-profits, including the SV Jaycees, Saucon Valley Conservancy, Lower Saucon Township Historical Society, and have served on the township’s Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) for over 16 years. I have my AAS, BS, MBA and a certificate in Data Analytics. With over 25 years of experience in IT, I’m well-versed with paying attention to detail, gathering data and using that information to make sound decisions. These skills translate well to the decision-making required as a Councilwoman. I have actively participated in almost every Council meeting over the past three years. Long ago, I wrote for Saucon News as the local government reporter covering township meetings. Unlike others who jump into the position without attending or participating in meetings, I have a good understanding of how things are run.

Campaign website: SauconValleyTogether.com
Campaign Facebook page: Saucon Valley Together
Email: sa******************@gm***.com

Susan Blair (R)

Susan BlairThe impact of fees paid by Bethlehem Landfill to LST on the township’s budget is well-documented and figures prominently in ongoing discussions about the facility’s proposed expansion. How do you believe the landfill’s closure will impact township finances-positively or negatively-and ultimately, taxpayers? What evidence can you provide to support your view?

The closure of the landfill will negatively impact the township finances. Residents’ property taxes and school taxes would increase dramatically. Over $2,500,000 in township revenue comes from the host fees secured by the Bethlehem Landfill. The closure would affect every single resident leading to a 30 percent increase in taxes. On top of that, the school district would lose around $400,000 yearly in landfill property tax. All these facts can be found in the township records. I personally would prefer a smaller landfill expansion rather than the 80 acres proposed. I would continue to require any proposed land use plan to meet all township zoning and planning regulations and ordinances. The Bethlehem Landfill is highly regulated by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), (and) is inspected on average of five times per month. I have no doubts that our environmental safety would be protected.

Has your campaign ever accepted money or in-kind services or benefited directly or indirectly from financial support by the landfill, its subsidiaries, special interest groups, PACs or any other individual or group with an interest in the landfill’s proposed expansion? If “yes,” please explain.*

My campaign has not accepted any campaign contributions from the Bethlehem Landfill or any group affiliated with the Bethlehem Landfill. My campaign is entirely funded by individual donations from township residents and friends–not from outside political groups.

Township council recently submitted an offer to the Borough of Hellertown that included two years’ worth of funding for the Hellertown Area Library. Do you support a service reunification between Lower Saucon Township and HAL and do you think it was a fair offer? Please explain.

I completely support a service reunification between Lower Saucon Township and HAL. I would like to see both municipalities sit down and discuss the issues. There is no reason we can’t find a mutual agreement that works for both groups and serves all of the community. In saying that, I feel that there are many misleading statements that have been made over the past few years. Our leaders need to work with each other to help support the Hellertown Library for all our residents. Looking at the offer that has been presented for the next two years, I believe the offer is a fair one. If Hellertown Borough did not like the offer, they should propose a compromise or alternative solution. We have to mindful as to how Lower Saucon tax dollars are spent.

What do you see as the root cause(s) of the township’s breakdown in relations with Hellertown borough? What if anything would you do on Council to improve relations, and why or why not?

There have been some bumps in the road, but I don’t believe the Lower Saucon Township-Hellertown relationship is permanently broken. I think both communities want what is best for their municipalities without doing harm to the other. However, the Township needs to ensure that when it spends taxpayers’ dollars in Hellertown, it is getting what it pays for, no excuses. I look forward to bringing the parties together to resolve all outstanding issues. We need to share ideas and be open-minded while presenting alternative solutions. I haven’t heard any visions or recommendations to improve the quality of living in the community, only opposition to every issue at hand. I plan on being that open-minded and financially responsible council member who puts the future of this township first.

Please discuss your life, professional, volunteer and other experiences and any other relevant skills or personal qualities. How do you think they will be an asset to the township if you’re elected?

Moving back to Lower Saucon Township from Canada at the age of 3 was a gift that my father gave to our family. Working in the mining group at Bethlehem Steel Corporation opened up the
opportunity to locate to Bethlehem. Little did I know back then that it would be the same place where I would have the privilege of raising my own children. I have two children, ages 28 and
31, who currently reside in New York City. In college, I majored in Business Management with a concentration in Human Resources. My background in business and HR will be a great asset for working together with council and other entities. I currently am a licensed realtor for Berkshire Hathaway in Coopersburg. I served on the Board of Trustees at Moravian Academy for 10 years. In that time, I worked with many groups of people to put together a Strategic Plan and a Capital Campaign for an Athletic and Wellness Center. I have volunteered at St. Luke’s Hospital and the Christian Schoolhouse. I want to make a difference in the community.

*Saucon Source reached out to Sandra Yerger, Mark Inglis and Susan Blair to give them an opportunity to update their answer to this question after it became known that a mailer and other literature from Responsible Solutions for Pennsylvania–a PAC affiliated with an employee of Waste Connections, with owns Bethlehem Landfill–that endorses them is now being delivered to Lower Saucon Township residents. Susan Blair declined. Sandra Yerger and Mark Inglis responded, and their follow-up answers are separated from their original answer with an ellipse (…).

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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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