LEHIGH COUNTY COMMISSIONER AT-LARGE
Four Democratic candidates, four Republican candidates and one Liberty party candidate, are on the Nov. 5 ballot for Lehigh County commissioner at-large. This is a four-year term. Vote for no more than four.
We asked the candidates the following question:
How do you plan on advocating for our senior citizen population if you are elected?
Their responses follow.
• Bob Elbich, Weisenberg Township
The successful completion of the Cedarbrook renovation and its retention as a county-owned resource will be the top priority for senior advocacy. Continued funding for the countywide senior centers will be next.
The 11 senior centers offer places for our seniors to meet, exercise, learn and enrich their lives.
The county currently has a wide variety of services available to our seniors, but I suspect that many of our seniors do not realize the extent of the help that they can access, so I would advocate for an annual newsletter distribution to our county seniors to inform them.
• Dave Harrington, Lower Milford Township
I plan on helping our senior citizen population through three policies. First, I will work with the state to find non-property tax revenue sources for Lehigh County. Second, I will make sure that Cedarbrook does not get sold to private companies so we can continue with the excellent care. Finally, I will work on ethics ordinances to give seniors peace-of mind that their government is working for them and not beholden to special interests.
• Dan Hartzell, South Whitehall Township
Lehigh County engages in daily advocacy for seniors through the Department of Aging and Adult Services, which provides in-home care and helps evaluate seniors’ needs, connecting them with assistance offered by private agencies and other government programs.
Perhaps Lehigh County’s most important advocacy for seniors is represented by the two Cedarbrook nursing homes.
My top priority as a commissioner has been, and will continue to be, maintaining county ownership and operation of the homes.
The statewide trend has been toward selling county nursing homes to for-profit owners and operators. I don’t consider that to be appropriate for this particular service.
• Zakiya Smalls, South Whitehall Township
Regarding Cedarbrook, what I think is really important is that it needs to remain a public facility.
The seniors living there should continue to receive the five-star quality care they have been receiving and that should not be compromised.
We need to continue to move forward with the renovations to accommodate their needs.
On a local level I want to highlight one of the bigger issues at hand — higher social security for seniors.
I will advocate and put pressure on state and federal officials to raise social security so our seniors may continue to live their lives with dignity.
• Dennis Nemes, Lower Macungie Township
Pennsylvania has the second largest population of senior citizens, with only Florida having a greater number. As a county commissioner, I believe it is critically important to continue to provide services that are now in existence at Cedarbrook. As a commissioner, I would work hard to contain taxes that significantly impact senior citizens on fixed income. I believe county leadership needs to work in a collaborative relationship with agencies that provide information and services to senior citizens. We have an inherent responsibility to remain protective of our senior citizens who have served their communities and Lehigh County for many years.
• Marty Nothstein, Lowhill Township
I have been a constant and ardent supporter of our senior citizen population in Lehigh County. I helped lead a substantial investment for the expansion of Lehigh County’s Cedarbrook Senior Care Center and that it continues to provide four star quality care. I have been a champion for our Cedarview Apartments, making sure that the option to provide low-cost housing for our most vulnerable seniors. I also fully support the area agency on aging and have fought to keep taxes low for our seniors, making sure their hard-earned dollars are spent wisely by county government. If re-elected, I will continue to produce the support and results that our seniors expect and rightfully deserve.
• Brad Osborne, South Whitehall Township
Living in our senior years can be both fun and challenging. Over the last eight years as a Lehigh County commissioner, I’ve supported cultural, charitable and recreational programs for citizens of all ages, as well as public transportation.
I will continue to make sure Lehigh County provides independent and assisted living choices for those who may need that.
And finally, as government officials, we must be particularly sensitive to the fact that many seniors live on a fixed income. I have resisted attempts to raise taxes on our most vulnerable citizens in their struggle to keep their head above water.
• Antonio A. Pineda, Whitehall Township
Many politicians talk, but few propose real solutions that aid and protect our seniors. I am eager to enact practical solutions that improve their lives. To do this, we must listen to our seniors. We need to talk less and listen more. I’ll hold listening sessions with different groups throughout the county, including our seniors, in order to understand their concerns and challenges and to work together to best serve them. We must also ensure they can always afford to live here. This means keeping taxes low and keeping the county safe, among other priorities.
• Matthew Schutter, South Whitehall Township