Pennsylvania voters will go to the polls to vote on issues of local, regional and statewide significance in the Nov. 5 elections. For voters in Northampton County, issues range from school superintendents, to judges, to city councilors, to a new amendment to the state constitution.
Students who are registered to vote in Northampton County may be sorted into several different wards, but the ballot will remain the same:
Judge of the Superior Court
Amanda Green-Hawkins (D), Daniel McCaffery (D), Megan McCarthy King (R) and Christylee Peck (R) are running for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, which is a state-level appeals court.
Judge of the Court of Common Pleas
Abe Kassis (D), Victor Scomillio (R) and John Morganelli, who is running on both party lines, are all running to replace retiring Northampton County judge Kimberly McFadden. Morganelli, 63, has been Northampton County District Attorney since 1992, and will not be running for another term in that post.
Running to fill Morganelli’s post as Northampton County District Attorney are Terry Houck (D) and Tom Carroll (R).
Tony Bassil (D) and Hayden Phillips (R) are running for County Controller, a post which involves auditing and examining county finances.
County Council District 1
Kevin Lott (D) is running unopposed for re-election to the Northampton County Council.
School Director – At-Large Bethlehem Area School District
Dean Donaher (D) and Karen Beck Pooley (D) are running for re-election to the Bethlehem Area School District Board of School Directors, while Emily Schenkel (D) and Kyle T. Miceli (R) are running for the board for their first terms.
Bethlehem City Council
Three members of the Bethlehem City Council, J. William Reynolds (D), Paige Van Wirt (D) and Michael G. Colón (D), are seeking re-election unopposed. Also running unopposed is Grace Crampsie Smith (D), who was appointed to the council this past August to replace retiring Councilman Shawn Martell.
Bethlehem City Treasurer
Kaija Farber (D) is running unopposed.
While all judicial retention — a vote on whether or not a judge should be allowed to remain a judge — elections in Pennsylvania are nonpartisan, all four candidates seeking retention on a statewide court have run in partisan primaries before. The four candidates seeking statewide retention are Judith Olson (R), Patricia McCullough (R), Kevin Brobson (R) and Anne Lazarus (D).
In addition, Northampton County judges Michael Koury, Jr, and Craig Dally are seeking retention.
Marsy’s Law Referendum
Besides all the judicial elections and local council races, there is also an important vote on whether or not to put Marsy’s Law into the state constitution. Marsy’s Law, which has been implemented in a number of other states, is a series of provisions to expand and protect the legal rights of crime victims. These include the right for the victims’ families to have a say in the bail and the right to release conditions of criminal defendants.
“What we’ve learned in the past thirty years, is that statutory rights alone are not enforceable,” said Jennifer Riley, state director of Marsy’s Law for Pennsylvania. “So, in order for a victim to have standing in court — to assert their rights if their rights are violated — those rights need to be in the constitution.”
Marsy’s Law has the support of numerous Pennsylvania officeholders and organizations, such as Gov. Tom Wolf But some notable groups have come out strongly against the measure, such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania and the League of Women’s Voters of Pennsylvania. Many of these groups oppose the law on the grounds that it will wind up harming the principle of “innocent before proven guilty.”
Andy Hoover, communications director for the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union, said in a February op-ed, “While our criminal justice system is far from perfect, the guarantees of both the Pennsylvania and U.S. Constitutions are intended to mitigate the mighty power of the state when a person is accused of a crime. Writing Marsy’s Law into Pennsylvania’s Constitution will further empower the state at the expense of the liberty of the person who is accused.”
Many Lehigh students are registered to vote in Northampton County.
Luke Kim, ‘20, is from New Jersey, but he is registered to vote in Pennsylvania.
“I think that my vote here in Pennsylvania matters more,” Kim said. “My rationale for registering to vote was that I’ll be living here for essentially the next four years. I’d rather have my vote count in a place where I’d be for the majority of the time, rather than a place where I’d be for a couple of months at most.”
Cesar Koo, ’19, ’20G, has a similar viewpoint.
“Statistically, my vote has more power here than in Seattle,” Koo said.
Both Kim and Koo plan to vote in the upcoming local elections. Polling places open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5, and will be open until the last person in line at 8 p.m. has voted.