Bethlehem City Councilman Sean Martell does not plan on seeking a second term to seek personal and professional growth. His position will be filled in November 2019. (Courtesy of Sean Martell)

Sean Martell not seeking a second term, Bethlehem looks to fill his position


Bethlehem City Councilman Sean Martell is not running for a second term due to personal reasons.

The city is preparing for the May 21 primary ballots in Lehigh and Northampton counties to eventually fill his position.

Matthew Munsey, chair of the Northampton Democratic Committee, said there are three four-year seats and one two-year seat up for grabs in this year’s Bethlehem City Council race.

The candidates for re-election are Michael Colon, J. William Reynolds and Paige Van Wirt. The new candidates are Carol Chamberlain Ritter, David Saltzer, Will Carpenter, Grace Crampsie Smith and Ashley Daubert.

Munsey said Martell’s position will be filled by Nov. 5.

Martell announced his decision on Jan. 3 in a press release statement. He thanked the citizens of Bethlehem for allowing him to serve for three years as councilman.

“From the beginning, I promised myself that I would serve only as long as I would be able to dedicate my complete time and attention to the role,” Martell said in the press release. “However, due to changes and growth in my personal and professional life, I have decided not to seek re-election. While it has been a difficult decision, it is the right one for myself and my family at this time.”

Martell’s decision surprised his party.

“I was a little surprised and disappointed, but I understood it was a personal decision,” Munsey said. “He brought something different and fresh. He seemed eager to always do more.”

Colon, who was elected as Bethlehem city councilman the same day with Martell in 2015, said he felt surprised, but profoundly proud of Martell for having the courage to make such a firm decision.

Colon said Martell looked for what was best for the city and was always open minded.

“We never saw each other as opponents,” Colon said. “We were actually together a lot. I (wished) him good luck with whatever you have next.”

Martell made a positive impact on the city and the council, Colon said. During his time on the council, Martell introduced an annual program where members would have to go through a training on ethics.

Martell, who is a Bethlehem native and Nazareth Area School District teacher, echoed his feelings on his trajectory serving the city as he gets ready to depart.

“I have had the pleasure to work with so many wonderful, dedicated people,” Martell said. “Bethlehem is truly a special place, and it is made so by the daily, tireless effort of so many. Personally, I am most proud of our collaborative effort to protect and invest in our neighborhoods, promote economic stability, prioritize fiscal sustainability and increase accountability and transparency.”

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