This article is part of a series of The Brown and White to profile current Bethlehem council members running for re-election in November 2019. To read more in this series, visit thebrownandwhite.com.
Bethlehem Councilman William Reynolds, the youngest man ever to serve on the Bethlehem city council when he was elected in 2008, is now running for re-election for his fourth term.
There are two other current council members running for re-election to retain their spot on the council, said Councilman Adam Waldron, including Paige Van Wirt and Michael Colón. All three members running for re-election are Democrats.
Reynolds, eager to knock on the door of politics at a young age, first ran for council in 2007 at 25 years old after graduating from Moravian College. He has now been on the council for 12 years — each term is four years. The primary election will be held on May 21 and the general election will take place on Nov. 5.
“I looked at the city council and it didn’t look like there was anyone who was under the age of 50 on it,” Reynolds said. “I’m from a family that has always been socially conscious and politically active. When I graduated…I looked around our community and saw a lot of changes that were happening. I wanted to learn to be a voice for the next generation of Bethlehem families.”
In his time on the council, Reynolds has focused on making the city of Bethlehem more sustainable and economically stable.
“I started several initiatives, including our Climate Action Plan, North Side 2027 Neighborhood Improvement Plan, Neighborhood Investment Strategy, and our open data efforts to increase transparency,” Reynolds said.
Becky Wamsley, the chair of the Bethlehem Democratic Committee, is a supporter of the effort to re-elect Reynolds.
“He did an initiative called #Bethlehem2017 for housing and environmental clean up,” Wamsley said. “It laid out a plan to help neighborhoods that are failing in Bethlehem and made it a mission for the city to get more green technology. That was a really great accomplishment of his.”
Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez is also fond of the work Reynolds has done on the council and is supporting his re-election.
“Well I think Councilman Reynolds has been an outstanding councilman,” Donchez said. “He’s very dedicated, conscientious and progressive on the city council. I have a very good working relationship with him, and I think the points that he proposed and worked on in Mission 2027 is a great plan for the North Side of the city. He deserves re-election.”
Reynolds proposal titled Northside 2027, a neighborhood investment program, is going to be a 10-year plan. Donchez said the plan is similar to his South Side mission that he and President Simon have developed.
Donchez and Reynolds have also worked closely together over the years, especially when Reynolds was president of the council, and hopes to see their work improve the city.
“We are in the process of re-opening our city’s webpage and making it interactive. I’ll be announcing shortly, maybe in the next few weeks, the Bethlehem 311 app that I’ve been working with Councilman Reynolds on who suggested that we do more on social media.”
Despite their shared belief that Reynold’s accomplishments have been substantial, both he and Wamsley agree that there still is a lot of work to be done.
“I think that Bethlehem really has the opportunity to be an example of what a mid-sized city can be in America — diverse and economically strong,” Reynolds said. “There are many areas where we can be proud of our progress, but I think that for the next couple of years, there’s more work to do, and I want to continue that work.”
Wamsley also hopes that if Reynolds is re-elected, he will be able to reduce the impact of certain issues, like the wage gap that citizens in Bethlehem face. She specifically is hopeful that Reynolds will support and help past Councilman Callahan’s “Reach Equality” proposed legislation that would ensure equal pay for women in Bethlehem.
It is unknown if Reynolds is going to have a challenger for his spot on the council, but he said that he is confident moving forward and enjoys the process of getting out, knocking on doors and talking to people to ask for their support.
With 12 years of experience on the council, Reynolds said he has no timetable for how long he’d like to serve.
“I take things day by day and I don’t know what the future holds,” he said. “I do know that it is a very critical time for the city on a lot of fronts and I’m asking the citizens of Bethlehem for another opportunity to continue to serve them on the issues that I think are critical for success.”