THE FUTURE OF BETHLEHEM
"Cities face no greater challenge than creating, supporting, and maintaining neighborhoods in which families want to raise their children. As Bethlehem moves forward, the most crucial issue facing the City will be our ability to foster neighborhood development as we continue to compete with surrounding municipalities and suburban areas." - J. William Reynolds
“From my first days on City Council, I have worked to support the City of Bethlehem’s commitment to maintaining and protecting our environment. In 2017, I was proud to propose Bethlehem’s first climate action plan. Utilizing the expertise of citizens, local environment groups, our Environmental Advisory Council, and city employees, our climate action plan will include citywide energy reduction goals, internal governmental reduction goals, legislative policy recommendations, and mitigation strategies for vulnerable areas of our city. Our climate action plan will also create a permanent structure of citizens and local environmental groups that will remain engaged and able to advocate for environmental responsibility going forward.”
“Our neighborhoods are our most valuable asset as a community. When I proposed Northside 2027 a few years ago, the goal was to invest in our north side neighborhoods that surround William Penn and Thomas Jefferson Elementary schools. Working with the Bethlehem Area School District, Moravian College, residents, and small businesses, significant work was completed in 2018 to design and implement improvements in these neighborhoods by focusing on the issues facing our families and residents related to housing, recreation opportunities, transportation, and commercial corridors. Several energetic, extremely well attended community meetings in 2018 reflected the passion of our residents in the initiative to be a vehicle to make our neighborhoods even stronger as our city moves forward.”
“Locally and across the nation, economic development incentives have provided no shortage of controversy over the past several years. Supporters consider them a valuable tool to redevelop and revitalize areas that are in desperate need of investment. Detractors believe economic development programs too often represent corporate giveaways or are destructive of conditions that are worth preserving or fostering. In 2017, I proposed Financial Accountability Incentive Reporting (F.A.I.R.) which called for tracking economic development incentive data as it relates to the City’s current economic development programs. Passed unanimously by City Council and implemented in 2018, F.A.I.R. helps to answer questions about the value of our incentive programs. F.A.I.R. also will provide evidence and information for future discussions about economic development strategies. Currently, supporting these types of programs involves repeating anecdotal information more so than using actual data to provide context for what the government is receiving in exchange for an incentive and what the government is giving up. F.A.I.R. will help to fix that.”
ADVOCATE FOR ISSUES THAT MATTER TO BETHLEHEM RESIDENTS
“Elected officials at the local level need to be advocates for issues that affect their communities. With that in mind, I will continue to work with our state and federal officials on issues that are important to the residents of Bethlehem. In the past few months, I was honored to serve on Governor’s Wolf Transition Team and have the opportunity to help our incoming Governor and his Administration understand many of the challenges and issues that our cities are facing in Pennsylvania. I will continue to stand up and support policies that are important priorities for our City. These policy priorities include continuing to advocate for an increase in the minimum wage, increased funding for the Bethlehem Area School District, the legalization of gay marriage, and much needed reform to Pennsylvania’s 911 funding revenue system.”
A SAFE BETHLEHEM
"The City of Bethlehem has always had safe neighborhoods and downtowns. As a community, we need to do everything we can to make sure that we continue to have the safest city in Pennsylvania. I am proud to say that I walked to every school I ever attended from my first day of kindergarten at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School to the day I graduated from Liberty High School. We need to maintain that level of safety if we are going to attract and retain families to our city. We need to focus more on our community policing programs and our anti-crime initiatives. Citizens want to know the police officers in their neighborhoods. Establishing safe neighborhoods can go a long way in helping us achieve that goal.”
“While cities and other municipalities around us are struggling to keep their heads above water, the City of Bethlehem has made great strides in improving its fiscal health since the Great Recession. However, going forward, Bethlehem needs strong leadership to tackle financial challenges on our horizon. In order to maintain the high quality city services that we have come to expect, we are going to have to make tough choices. In 2018, Bethlehem saw its bond rating increase to a A+ with a stable outlook.
The improved bond rating is a reflection of both the city’s financial health and the hard work we have done as a community to help guarantee a bright economic future for Bethlehem. So, the question becomes, what can we do to take the next steps to improve the City’s financial picture? Continued pursuit of economic development opportunities in order to strengthen Bethlehem’s tax base, increasing efficiencies at City Hall and in the delivery of city services, and continuing to review the City’s budget on a line by line basis are all necessities in the coming years.”
OPEN, RESPONSIVE CITY GOVERNMENT
"In 2017, I was proud to propose Open Bethlehem – our city’s first open data program. Open data allows citizens to have access to governmental data that exists about their community and their neighborhoods. People throughout the country, when given access to their community’s data have found new and innovative uses and applications for it that may not be apparent in city government. Some applications of city open data initiatives include the tracking of leaf collection, snow removal, and pothole issues. Other applications have included tracking health violations, crime statistics, and permit information. Bethlehem’s open data program has the potential to transform the ways in which citizens are able to access and utilize public data in an effort to improve their community.”
“We may not manufacture steel anymore in our city, but we do manufacture bright, energetic and innovative individuals and businesses who create jobs and bring economic growth to our downtowns and neighborhoods. We have seen more than $2 billion in private economic investment in the last decade in the City of Bethlehem. We cannot, however, slow down our efforts while other cities move forward. Stimulating growth is the best way to assure jobs for our citizens, vibrancy in our neighborhoods, and prosperity for our City. So what can we do to keep revitalizing Bethlehem?
Support Bethlehem’s small businesses by continuing to invest in our successful small business development initiatives including our façade and revolving loan fund programs
Continue to supports projects in our Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) area and Community Revitalization Assistance Zone (CRIZ) designed to redevelop some of our largest undeveloped and underdeveloped parcels of land
Expand the use of current successful economic development programs such as our Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance program (LERTA) which allows for tax incentives to encourage business growth.
Continuing to advocate for the expansion of state economic development programs such as Keystone Innovation Zones (KIZ) and Ben Franklin Tech Ventures.
Supporting strong public-private partnerships such as Partnership for Innovation (PI) and Tau that fill a need for post incubator small business workspaces in Bethlehem."
“Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. One of my proudest moments on City Council was when we voted to create the City’s Human Relations Commission. The HRC was created to guard against discrimination when it comes to housing, employment and public accommodations in Bethlehem. Besides offering new protections for citizens of Bethlehem, the Commission set up a mechanism for people in Bethlehem to resolve the complaints on a local level rather than having to fight the bureaucracy of Harrisburg.”
ADVOCATE FOR ISSUES THAT MATTER TO BETHLEHEM RESIDENT
“Elected officials at the local level need to be advocates for issues that affect their communities. With that in mind, I will continue to work with our state and federal officials on issues that are important to the residents of Bethlehem. I will continue to stand up and support policies that are important priorities for our City. These policy priorities include continuing to advocate for an increase in the minimum wage and increased funding for the Bethlehem Area School District.”