Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Judge's Position Is Among Offices Up for Grabs in 2011--Time to Find Candidates!

Judge Edward G. Smith will be running for re-election to a 10 year term this year, 
among many other political races up for grabs in the Easton area.

Posted by: Noël Jones

Please note: there is a 10-year judge's position being decided this year in the Easton area. This should be of particular interest to blog readers with regard to previous discussions regarding judges not imposing maximum fines on slumlords for code violations, and the concern that this could be linked to campaign contributions in a judge's election. Once these guys are in, they are in for 10 years, so it's important to find candidates with integrity and help to get them elected if you don't like the record of the current judge (which is important to assess first). Voting is not enough to change the mess we're in--we have to each do our part to engage from the beginning to the end of the democratic process--we need to find candidates from all parties (and no party) for all of these races so that our local democracy can truly function as intended:

Easton Area public offices up for election in 2011 (last updated 01/23/2011):

Judge, Court of Common Pleas; 10 yr: Edward G. Smith (R)
County Council - District 2 (Easton, Glendon, West Easton, Wilson, Williams; Forks, Palmer, Stockertown, Tatamy); 4 yr: J. Michael Dowd (R); contested in 2007 by William E. Wallace (D)
County District Attorney; 4 yr: John M. Morganelli (D); uncontested in 2007

County Controller; 4 yr: Stephen J. Barron, Jr. (D); contested in 2007 by John T. Schimmel (R)
Magisterial District Judge – District 03-2-12 (Easton 7, 8, West Easton, Wilson); 4 yr: vacated by Michael J. Koury, Jr. (D) after 2009; election for remainder of 6-year term in 2011
City of Easton - Mayor; 4 yr: Sal Panto (D); contested in 2007 by Gary Bertsch (R)
City of Easton - Council, At Large; 4 yr, 3 seats: Kenneth Brown (D), Jeff Warren (D), Elinor H. Warner (D); contested in 2007 by Roger Ruggles (R), Peter G. Melan (R), Bill E. Timmann (R)
City of Easton - Controller; 4 yr: Tony Bassil (D); formerly (R), contested in 2007 by Vicki M. Davis (D)
Glendon Borough Council; 4 yr, 3 seats; 2 yr, 1 seat: Charles E. Seip (D), Scott Pyatt (R), James McAllister (D), Earl T. Smith, Jr. (D); last two appointed after resignations (McAllister served previous elected term); Seip, previously (R), resigned and later returned (appointed)
Glendon Borough Tax Collector; 2 yr: Lori Smith (D); appointed after death of Anna Hodge (D) in 2009
West Easton Borough Council; 4 yr, 3 seats: Kelly A. Gross (D), Daniel DePaul (D), Carl Pierson, Jr. (D); contested in 2007 by Seth Marsh (R), William Concolino (R)
Wilson Borough Council; 4 yr:
Ward 1; 2 seats:
 James McGowan (D), Edwinna Howey (R) (appointed)Ward 2: David J. Williams (D); contested in 2007 by Leonard Feinberg (R)Ward 3; 2 seats: Russell Lipari (D) (appointed), Joan A. Lilly-Kemmerer (D)
Williams Supervisors; 6 yr: Fred Mebus (R); contested in 2005 by Sally Ann Hixson (D)
Williams Auditor; 6 yr; 2 yr: Ronald Hineline (R), David Hoffman (D) (appointed to vacancy)
Easton Area School Board; 4 yr:
Region 1 (Easton 8W; Palmer); 3 seats; 1 likely as 2 yr or 6 yr:
 Jodi Hess (D), Patricia M. Fisher (D), Millie F. Mandarino (D); contested in 2007 Primary (both parties) by Richard R. Siegfried (R)
Region 2 (Easton 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12; Riegelsville):
 Kerry Myers (D); contested in 2007 by Robert Gerheart (D)
Region 3 (Easton 3, 6, 7, 8E; Low. Mt. Bethel Indep., Forks):
 Kerri Leonard-Ellison (R); contested in 2007 by Joseph A. Panto (D)
Wilson Area School Board; 4 yr:
Region 1 (Wilson 1, 2); 2 seats:
 David R. Seiple (D), Sharon Spadoni (D)
Region 2 (Wilson 3, Glendon, West Easton):
 Charles Marsteller (R)
Region 3 (Williams); 2 seats:
 Judith A. Herbstreith (D), Cecelia Nester (D)


David Caines said...

not to ask a silly question, but is Dennis running for anything?
I'd love to see him on city council and am willing to work towards that end.
As for the rest, I just don't know enough yet. Though we agree within reason that the city needs a judicial change.
Mayor Panto has our vote, and we'll see who comes up as things roll on.
It's still a bit early to take a firm position for anyone other than the mayor.

noel jones said...

the only candidates i know of so far are a couple of candidates for school board--but there are 5 open positions...

David Caines said...

I'm wondering if we should just run a "none of the incumbents" campaign as it regards our judges. I'll admit it's unfair, but it has proven itself to send a strong message of disgust and dissatisfaction where used. a simple message to unseat every sitting judge running with little care as to who takes the spot. A sort of political guerrilla warfare.
I don't know that we're there yet, but I'm having some issue finding their records. It's ugly, it plays to the mob mentality, but where it's been done it has gotten the point across. Your thoughts?

David Caines said...

To be fair, I'll ask those who watch this blog to get the point across that our judges may want to put a word in. Feel free to defend yourselves, your actions and your choices. I know that life is not as black and white as most think, I even have some idea of the pressures faced. Why should we vote for you?
What are the problems you face?
How can we help?
Democracy is a real nut job of a thing, how can we work together to make a better city?

Dennis R. Lieb said...

For whatever it's worth, a few observations:

Ed Smith: though he seems to be an OK guy and generally good judge, he didn't seem to take the city's problems with the Hubcap Store owner seriously and dragged that process out over years. He allowed the owner one reprieve after another to live up to the terms of the agreement that allowed him to stay in the building while wrapping up the business and cleaning out the premises. This guy was in violation of those agreements on practically a daily basis and the judge seemed unconcerned over his bad faith activities while giving him one extension after another. These extensions cost our city administrative time, a lot of money and aggravation just to handle one of the many blighted properties we need to deal with in Easton.

This is speculation on my part but it would seem that the judge leans towards the "property rights fanatic" tag I like to use to describe people who think owning something gives you the right to wreck communities, devalue neighboring property and generally be an asshole as long as you hold a deed to something. We need the attitude of judges to reflect the fact that property ownership has responsibilities as well as rights and when you can't or won't take responsibility it is time to either move on or face the consequences. Cutting to the chase, I won't be voting for him.

Mike Dowd: on a council the seems to have no shortage of nutcases, in-fighting and disaffected decision making, Mike remains above the fray and often supports projects of either party if they are good for Easton. I'd rather like to keep that stability in place for a while longer., I am not running for anything. It took me a very long time to find my niche and actually get someone to believe in my ability to fill that role so I will be staying put for the next four years to see what I can get done. It has been my dream since involving myself in citizen activism in late 1999 to see the most visible sections of our depressed neighborhood restored to new glory. This includes the Silk Mill, the Bushkill Creek trail, resumption of passenger rail (with a station in downtown), the South 3rd Street corridor and the 600 block of Northampton. I now am in a position to do something about a few of these visions. I will stick with that for a is where I can do the most good.


David Caines said...

Shame, I'd vote for you, and have. Still..I'll take NOTA off of my to do list. As mentioned, it's a bit ugly.
Let's see what the WWNP does with a new driver. We're still a bit put off, but if you can show that you folks are dotting the "I"'s and crossing the "T"'s, my time is yours. Such as I can make it available. I can't speak for Jeanette, she way more Ny than me and as such if you waste her time, you've made an enemy for life, or at least aren't likely to get another second of it. They call it a Ny minute for a reason.

David Caines said...

I am curious where all and sundry stand on things like a CERT, reserve code and police officers and generally enabling those of us who wish to do so the ability to train, become certified and enforce such city ordinances as may be possible? With city , state or federal certification, that research I have available, to include many examples of cities and states who have used such means to overcome circumstances like our own.

noel jones said...

David--excellent question on code officer training. If anyone knows, please post.

Dennis--thanks for the info on Judge Smith. He's gotta go.

Readers--who do you know in your community that would make a good judge and might be convinced to run? Any lawyers out there with good reputations that would like to make a run for it?

The most important thing we in Easton--and especially in the West Ward--need to know about a candidate for judge is that he/she will ENFORCE CODE ON SLUMLORDS TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW.

anonsomething said...

You've got the Ed Smith wrong, Noel.
I'm not happy with the hubcap thing, but absolutely everthing else he's done is perfect....ok, nearly so.
The baby/bathwater thing here. Ed ain't a bad guy.

noel jones said...

anonsomething--please give specifics--Dennis has given specifics--if you want to make your case, please name some of the good judgments he has made, especially with regard to code enforcement on slumlords.

the hubcap store is definitely a black mark.

Cathy said...

Do Judges that are running ever do public events where the voters can meet them and ask questions?

I think it is very important to hold judges accountable. Many of the city's employees point to the wasted time and money that occurs when trying to enforce laws and codes only to have it thrown out or made meaningless by a judge. This is a long standing systemic problem that has made the revitalization of Easton extra hard. And you know what? We dont really need to wait for the election to start letting them know we are paying attention. Maybe this is something the West Word can take up in a future issue i.e. lets get to know our judges. That scrutiny might improve their performance right there.

Dennis R. Lieb said...

I think everyone agrees that Ed Smith is a good guy and a generally good judge (as I stated earlier). He was a regular lawyer before running and there is no reason to believe that another similarly skilled person couldn't do as good a job - my point being that until the ruling class in our society separates themselves from the English Monarchy mindset that money and property determines right and wrong, we can only instill that view by getting rid of them when they don't.

Case in point being issues like the Hubcap store, which dragged out endlessly and unnecessarily for years. This wasted our city administrators' time and energy and our tax dollars on legal fees over a single problem building when we had many other important tasks to complete, not to mention infuriating the citizenry over the delay, many of whom probably blamed the city for it.

Where will the energy and enthusiasm to engage in the next legal property drama come from if this is what we have to look forward to every time?


tunsie said...

when I was at the poll one time...I aked a lady who she was gonna vote for,and she said None of your business.I told her if she didnt vote for my buddy BOB FREEMAN,I was gonna beat her up...she went inside and told sharon john on me...than sharon came out and yelled at me.....Tunsie

noel jones said...

yes, Tunsie--no thuggery within 25 yards of a polling station. but on the campaign trail, anything goes!

tunsie said...

Yeah the security guard came to me when no one was looking and said...DONT WORRY.BOB FREEMAN IS GONNA WIN......hes my buddy......i love u noel

Donald said...

It is very difficult to unseat a sitting Judge - they do not have opposition and the vote is a yes or no vote for another 10 years. It will take a lot of money and organization to unseat Smith.

Plus he is not just Judge in Easton but the entire county so you would have to convince the more conservative and anti-city voters in the suburbs and rural areas that Smith is not good for them also.

Anonymous said...

Smith needs to be out, DePaul and his scandal with that massage person in West Easton needs to take a hike and not rerun, K Gross does not do West Easton any favors

noel jones said...

Donald--I had heard something like this about the judge's seat recently, but I don't understand. How is it that we elect a judge for a 10 year term, and then cannot vote to unseat him when that term is up? Do you know more specifics about this process--or do you maybe have a link you could direct us to that explains the rules on this?

Eastonian said...

I don't know about the hubcap dispute, but I've had business before Judge Smith on several occasions and seen him adjudicate in a public session, and have found him to be fair to both parties in the dispute and concerned about the safety of women and children in Northampton County. He is generally respectful of both party's right to speak (not cutting in or interrupting like some judges - perhaps understandably - might do).

Anonymous said...

It is excellent that Daniel DePaul is not running for council in West Easton, need to get more credible people in as he was not credible to say the least, too many flirty woman problems that involved scandal, too bad!

Anonymous said...

Ed Smith is not a good guy.
please follow
for the facts.
He rules in favor of the developers and does not require the developments to be ACT167 compliant. That menas they can flood you and your neighbors all day long and make tons of money!