15 Apply for Open City Council Seat

Council will hear from the candidates during 2 meetings this week, then pick a replacement for new Mayor Bob Donchez.

Bethlehem City Council in session in 2013. (Patch File Photo)
Bethlehem City Council in session in 2013. (Patch File Photo)

Who will replace Mayor Bob Donchez on Bethlehem City Council?

Bethlehem City Council will meet twice in the next four days to try to answer that question.

Fifteen people have submitted resumes to be considered for the open seat vacated when Donchez—who sat on council for more than 20 years—was sworn in as the city’s 11th mayor on Jan. 6.

Council will begin the task of replacing Donchez on Monday night when it gives all 15 candidates an opportunity to make a five-minute pitch on why they should be picked. The public committee of the whole meeting will get under way at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

Then on Thursday, council will meet again at 7 p.m. in a special session to interview candidates and perhaps vote for a new council member. Whoever is selected would serve the remainder of Donchez’s council term, which runs through the end of 2015.

The list of people who have applied includes a former Northampton County councilman, a member of Mayor John Callahan’s cabinet, two men who came up short in the Democratic City Council primary a year ago and six women.

If council members cannot agree on a new member on Thursday, a special meeting has been scheduled for Monday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m.

Council might have reason to believe it may need an extra meeting to make a decision.

In February 2012, council met three times and voted eight times but still could not break a three-way deadlock on a decision to pick a new city controller to replace Meg Holland, who abruptly decided to quit the job at the end of 2011.

Ultimately, council asked Northampton County Court to make the selection and the judges picked Robert Pfenning—who was one of the six candidates who applied for the job, but not among the three that were each favored by two members of council.

Pfenning completed Holland’s term, which ended in January, when former Councilman David DiGiacinto was sworn into office.

The 15 candidates who have applied to join City Council are:

  • Marlene Burkey
  • Michael Colon
  • Melody J. Frey
  • Ronald R. Heckman, a former member of Northampton County Council
  • Joseph M. Kelly, who was just replaced as the city’s director of Community and Economic Development
  • Stephen L. Melnick, who came up short in the Democratic council primary in 2013
  • Thomas C. Miller
  • Cathy Reuscher
  • Lynn Fryman Rothman
  • David P. “Lump” Sanders, who also came up short in the Democratic council primary in 2013
  • Jeremy Sestito
  • Dr. Andre’ L. Simon
  • Bruce M. Smackey
  • Nancy A. Sykes
  • Sonia Vazquez


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