EXPERIENCE & LEADERSHIP MATTER: Key Issues
Public service is an attitude as well as a commitment, and poor morale among city workers affects how well services are delivered to the community.
I believe that the first challenge of the next mayor will be to rebuild the morale of the city workforce. Reorganization and streamlining will ensure better relationships among coworkers and better interaction with and service to the public. An atmosphere tainted by personal agendas can destroy cooperation among departments, bankrupt the treatment of those seeking assistance, and disgruntle the overall attitude of city hall employees. Far too many residents, developers, contractors, realtors and business owners have expressed their dissatisfaction with a non-responsive city government, and far too many instances of fearful, tense and depressed conditions within city hall have been reported. The city workforce is the single most important asset that the public and the mayor have: a respected and content workforce will deliver better services.
Public safety will be at the forefront of city services. I believe that a robust community policing program strengthens relationships between residents and law enforcement, and builds trust. Training in both traditional law enforcement disciplines as well as newer applications will ensure that every resident can trust the Bethlehem Police Department to apply the law equally, to everyone, at all times. Our Police Department, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services will receive the resources and support that are required to protect residents, businesses and visitors.
Recreation & Parks
Recreation and Parks are important to quality of life in any community, and in light of the pandemic, these resources have been in even higher demand. Our recreational and natural resources, as well as public facilities need more attention; dissolving the Department of Parks, Recreation and Public Property was misguided, and maintenance of our parks, playgrounds and city facilities has suffered as a result. Monocacy Park and the Monocacy Walkway, the D&L Towpath, Sand Island and Saucon Park are prime current examples of poor maintenance. Rolling the Department of Sewer and Water back into the Department of Public Works will enable the re-establishment of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Public Property, and create a renewed focus on these critical resources.
LIST OF ISSUES
Environmental concerns, both in city government operations and in the community, must remain a priority. The Climate Action Plan should continue to be a roadmap for improving our city environment and remain a working document.
The city, in partnership with the Parking Authority, should continue to add electric charging stations. In addition, where feasible, the city fleet should be converted to alternative fuel. Revisions to the the Zoning Code need to be made to encourage solar installation and green roofs on larger new buildings. The installation of electric charging stations at warehouses, powered by solar panels, would provide electricity for off-street parking charging stations for the many trucks traversing our city streets, and reduce their diesel engine idling.
Community development has played second fiddle to economic development for too many years.
Make no mistake, we must continue to expand the tax base with economic development, but we need to ensure that development in a city steeped in history respects and is compatible with that history and the neighborhoods in which it takes place.
Housing availability, with an emphasis on resident-ownership and affordability, must be addressed. The current trend of developing upscale rental housing does not satisfy the housing needs in a diverse community like Bethlehem. There is a shortage of affordable housing (not public housing) for working and middle class families. We need to create such housing opportunities, so that families like the one I grew up in, in a NE Bethlehem row home, can have good houses and great communities in which to thrive and prosper. This will bring stability to Bethlehem’s neighborhoods. I will form a city-wide affordable housing task force, an initiative long needed in Bethlehem.
Small Business Assistance
Small businesses are the backbone of our local retail, restaurant, commercial and service sector. I understand many of the concerns that other small business owners have expressed to me. Small businesses are a critical part of our community’s economic vitality, and city government needs to recommit to providing assistance to current and prospective small businesses in Bethlehem. My administration will create a ‘small business concierge’ to do exactly that.
Public Works & Streets
Many Bethlehem residents are dissatisfied with the condition of our roadways as well as other systems under the aegis of Public Works and Streets. Laying a scratch coat of macadam on a deteriorating surface is a waste of money. A street should be repaved properly and done right the first time.
Parking Authority Reform
Bethlehem needs a kinder, gentler parking authority.
Many residents and small business owners feel that the Bethlehem Parking Authority is not approachable, and as a result is out of touch with the community that they are attempting to serve. I will address this, and will consider moving the day to day operation into city hall, with the Parking Authority operating solely as the financing arm of that operation. This would give residents and business owners recourse through their elected representatives.
Integrity & Honesty
Mayor is only as good as the integrity and honesty that they bring to the office.
Open office hours for the public to speak with the Mayor will continue. City business will be transacted transparently and openly. I will not participate in the employee pension plan as Mayor, and I will use my own personal vehicle for city business. My desire to be your Mayor, and my decision to run is purely from a desire to solve issues, serve and improve both the City itself and the quality of life for its citizens, businesses and visitors.
Ordinances & Code Enforcement
When city ordinances are not enforced equilaterally and fairly, the entire community suffers. Code enforcement officials should not be choosing on whom and when they enforce city regulations. Code enforcement exists to ensure safe housing, building code compliant practices in new construction, and adherence to zoning laws. As the former Deputy Director of Community Development I recognize code enforcement’s importance to the health and welfare of a community. Residents may be assured that I believe in robust code enforcement.