Northampton County district attorney not seeking re-election

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John Morganelli, ’77, has decided not to seek re-election after 28 years in office. Morganelli wants to give woman and other minorities a chance to be active in Law enforcement. (Courtesy of John Morganelli)

After 27 years of service, Northampton County’s District Attorney John Morganelli will not be seeking re-election in 2019, according to lehighvalleylive.com.

“I feel we have accomplished all of the goals that I set out to do when I first took office in 1992,” Morganelli said. “In order for me to have some new challenges before I’m done with my career, it was time for me to move in a different direction.”

Morganelli, a Democrat, plans to run for Northampton County judge. The primaries are being held this May. If Morganelli fails to win, he will most likely return to private practice, a sector where he started his career.

Since his first day as district attorney, Morganelli had a staff comprised of 50 percent female prosecutors. Additionally, he hired the first African American district attorney in Northampton County’s history, as well as the first Hispanic and African American county detectives.

“I wanted to break barriers down for women and minorities and to get them involved in law enforcement in the county,” Morganelli said.

Some of his highest priorities included bringing mental health and drug courts to Northampton County.

Morganelli said the most challenging part of his job was going to crime scenes in the early hours of the morning and working with the victims and their families to provide them justice.

“Although I love my job — I wouldn’t have stayed this long if I didn’t — it’s tough to look into folks’ eyes, who have had a loved one murdered and to explain to them the system and what goes on,” he said.

Morganelli has changed the organization of the district attorney’s office from geographical assignment to a crime-based system, which consists of specialized units that includes violent crime, sexual assault and drug units.

Morganelli said his office has been aggressive on sexual predators and child molesters because he believes that “communities cannot flourish if people are afraid to walk out their doors.”

Lehigh University Police Chief Jason Schiffer, former Chief of the Bethlehem Police Department, had a good relationship with Morganelli throughout the years.

Although LUPD does not directly report to Morganelli, he has the ultimate authority over all criminal cases the department files.

“I think (Morganelli) has done a fantastic job for the citizens of Northampton County,” Schiffer said. “He served with honor and integrity throughout his entire career.”

Robert Donchez, mayor of Bethlehem, has had both a strong professional and personal relationship with Morganelli. Growing up within one block of each other, Donchez refers to Morganelli as his closest friend. He believes Morganelli has conducted himself with great integrity and professionalism.

“When you look at his record of all the different committees that he’s formed and task forces that he’s formed, I think he has been a very progressive and outstanding district attorney,” Donchez said.

In 2018, Morganelli ran for Congress under the new 7th Congressional District. He ultimately lost in the primaries to Susan Wild, who went on to win the seat in the general election. 

According to lehighvalleylive.com, First Deputy District Attorney Terry Houck, County’s Chief Public Defender Nuria DiLuzio and attorney Tom Carroll are all running to fill Morganelli’s shoes as the district attorney for the county.

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