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Macungie Council Candidates Express Views, Hopes, Plans

Each gave opening and closing statements and answered voters' questions.

Only four of six candidates for three four-year seats and one two-year seat on Macungie Borough council attended the Nov. 3 candidates' forum sponsored by the Lehigh County League of Women Voters at the Macungie Institute.

Council president and veteran Guy Ramsey and newcomer Kim Scherr, a write-in candidate, did not attend.

Still, four council hopefuls answered voters' questions: Chris Becker, Debra Cope, Greg Hutchison and Linn Walker allowed about 50 residents a glimpse of their thought processes, what makes them tick and their plans for making the borough a better place to live.

All four clearly want Macungie to be "out of the papers," a reference to the ongoing turmoil between Mayor Rick Hoffman and the Macungie Police Department that plagues just about every council meeting.

They want integrity to be restored, they said, and for respect and harmony to return.

Hutchison mentioned the lawsuits that have been costing the borough tens of thousands of dollars as the reason officials are having a hard time balancing the 2012 budget.

"The judge has spoken," Hutchison said, "The mayor is the head of the police department. The chief must listen to the mayor. They don't have to like each other, but they have to respect each other."

While Lehigh County District Attorney is appealing the ruling that gives the mayor access to police records, Hutchison also did not mention that Hoffman filed an appeal of Judge Michele Varricchio's decision because he wants to be awarded more borough money to cover his court costs.

Hutchison also did not mention that the mayor has launched further legal proceedings into the possible illegal hiring of Police Chief Ed Harry.

Hutchison said he is up for doing what needs to be done to balance the 2012 budget, even if it means laying off borough workers.

"It may be for the good of the whole," he said.

Chris Becker has been serving on council for several months as council's chosen replacement for Linden Miller who resigned early in the year.

An estimator by trade, Becker made clear his skill in dealing and sticking to tough budget -- or any other kind of -- decisions.

Becker stated several times that his priorities include streets, water and sewer issues and police protection.

"Council's job is to tend to the purse strings," he said.

Debra Cope presented herself as a "clean slate."

She declined questions regarding the budget, the number of police officers need, the K-9 Unit, the sidewalk ordinance and the inter-relationships among council members and between council and other borough workers, saying she had too little information.

Her job as an account liaison means she knows how to communicate with people, she said.

"I can bring an element of customer service to council....I have no agenda, no alliances and I'm open-minded," she said.

Linn Walker joined the council race after the Primary Election in May.

He has lived in the borough since 1987, and said that Macungie is "going backwards."

"The budget is out of hand," he said, calling on a need for better priorities that will keep expenses down.

Walker believes there is no need for the Macungie Police Department to have a K-9 Unit, nor is there any need for more than four full-time police officers.

On at least two occasions throughout the forum Walker said that the borough solicitor's lack of knowledge was the reason the litigations, ergo the extreme legal expenses, exist.

He claims that his common sense and acute money-managing skills are what will make him a valued member of council. 

Another Opinon November 05, 2011 at 09:09 PM
Walker obviously is oblivious to the situations we live in today. I would like to know why he feels we do not need a K-9 unit here in Macungie. I'm not putting down his age, but I can tell you that he probably isn't aware of the drug use in the early teens in this area not to mention the adults that you can tell are obviously drug users. If you don't stay on top of drugs you will have a whole new issue that we will be dealing with in Macungie. If money is an issue do more fund raisers and people like me will donate. Another idea would be to lease the use of the dog/cop team to area neighborhoods & schools - if that's not done already. I also feel that Hutchinson is a supporter of the mayor and for that he doesn't win any points with me. The mayor may be a great guy (I don't personally know him), but he's not doing a good job.
atthebeach November 08, 2011 at 12:11 AM
I was disappointed that Ms. Cope, who attended the panel Nov 3, did not make herself more aware and knowledgeable regarding the issues facing Macungie Borough. Mr. Walker was right, the solicitor should have been the one to know the law and advise the council. Maybe it is time for a new solicitor. Along with a new council.
ron November 08, 2011 at 04:56 AM
wow with the amount of our hard earned money our mayor has wasted getting close to the100,000 dollor mark greg hutchisons anser is ( hey lets just lay off some borough workers) wow waste taxpayer money and take peoples jobs away.what a team he and the mayor would make! mr hutchison also failed to say that the mayor now wants us to pay his bills to the tune of $30,000 dollors! then there is mr walker accusing the solicitor of " lack of knowledge" wow think about that statement and who it came frome,then when you stop laughing start crying because this clown could end up back on council. mr walker says no need for sammy, i guess he still dont care to much for the wishes of the residents or can not remember why he lost the election four years ago.mr hutchison seems to have the same problem. I heard that mr walker said he was done with macungie but when he saw a chance to be the only name on the ballot there he was,well at least the mayor taught somebody something! hey lets remember to vote!!!!
David November 08, 2011 at 03:06 PM
Mr. Drudy, unless I missed something, it is also a FACT that neither did Mr. Hutchinson or Mr. Walker offer a response to the same guide.
ron November 09, 2011 at 04:27 AM
Whats wrong with reporting the facts mr drudy, oh wait i guess mr hutchison and mr hoffman do not like it when the facts are reported like the fact that the mayor now wants the residents to pay his court costs on top of all the legal fees we are paying because of him and the fact that he has started a new attack on the chief. Wasting residents hard earnd money and attacking our police force seem to be mr hoffmans only function as mayor and im afraid mr hutchisons only function on council will be being a yes man for the mayor.

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