The Brown and White recently talked to Bethlehem City Councilman Michael Colon to discuss his bid for re-election. This Q&A is part of a series of The Brown and White to profile current city council members running for re-election in November. This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
Colon, a Democrat, is seeking a second term on city council. Colon currently works as an admissions counselor at Northampton County’s Gracedale nursing home and is the chairman of the public safety committee.
There are three four-year seats and one two-year seat on the ballot this year for Bethlehem City Council.
Q: Why did you decide to run again?
Michael Colon: I really enjoy being on city council. I really found it to be a great honor. I grew up in the city of Bethlehem, and I decided to run a couple of years ago because I’ve been very involved in community service, volunteerism and involvement in the community for the majority of my time after college. I look at city council as one of the highest levels of service to the whole city, and I thought, I want to give it another term. I enjoy it greatly and want to see if I could do another four years.
Q: What are some of your biggest accomplishments?
MC: I always try to come into every subject with an open mind. I always try to listen to all sides of everything that is going on before I vote on anything. I am one of seven, and I think it’s hard for any one member of council to take credit for a lot because we are a voting body of seven. I know in the last four years, the city as a whole has seen serious crimes continue to drop. We have seen a lot of good development in the city. We’ve been able to maintain city services. We have seen very moderate tax increases in the city. And overall, the quality of life for Bethlehem is very good and very strong.
Q: Why should people vote for you?
MC: I have grown up in Bethlehem, and I plan on growing old in Bethlehem, and that’s why I want to continue on the council, to keep making sure Bethlehem’s the kind of place where people want to live. It is a kind of place where businesses want to move. I aim to keep the quality of life and level of services to where they are.
Q: How do you see the future of Bethlehem?
MC: One of the things is the sale of the casino that’s going on, so with that sale, the new owners of the casino have already talked about continuing to invest a large amount to keep developing that site and Bethlehem because of things like the SteelStacks, like the casino, like the Sands event center, has really become a regional destination where people want to move close to amenities. People want to be close to where they can go see a concert. They want to be close to where they could go see entertainment, and now you have a lot of people that are in the business of investing into communities, see the appeal of Bethlehem. It’s a safe city. It’s a clean city. It’s a city with a lot of cultural diversity.
Q: If you get elected a second time, are there any term limits that prevent you from seeking election a third time?
MC: No, Bethlehem doesn’t have term limits. Theoretically, I could be on council for the rest of my life if that was the will of the voter. Do I think I’m going to be on city council for a third term after this? Truthfully, I don’t know. I know right now, my heart is in serving another four years, and I will cross that bridge when I get to it.
Q: Do you have any challengers, and how serious is the competition?
MC: Five people are running for three seats, so anything can happen come election day. It will be up to the voters to decide what their will is. I will be able to live with whatever the outcome of the vote is. I was new to politics and ran in a contested election when I got elected four years ago, so I understand that these things can go either way.
Q: If you get elected, what are some of your priorities?
MC: One of the things I will be able to be of use for is right now the city of Bethlehem is merging its 911 center with the Northampton County 911 center, and for years, I worked for the Northampton County 911 center, and I currently work for Northampton County’s Gracedale nursing home right next door. The city is taking its 911 operations and sending it up to Northampton, and I feel that I have great knowledge of how 911 works, the operations that go into a 911 center, the staffing of a 911 center. I have a good relationship with everyone involved at the city level and the county level to help provide some oversight to the transition.