EMMAUS BOROUGH COUNCIL
Emmaus Borough Council welcomed two familiar faces Jan. 2 to fully complete council.
Wesley R. Barrett and Teri Sorg-McManamon were the two candidates chosen out of the 14 applicants to fill the vacant seats left by Lee Ann Gilbert, who moved on to be the first female mayor of Emmaus, and Nathan Brown who went on to serve as the Lehigh County Commissioner in district 5. Both previous council members left mid-term, which is why these applicants did not have to go through the formal election process like newly elected councilwoman Shana Baumgartner. The terms for Barrett and Sorg-McManamon expire Jan. 1, 2020.
Barrett, whose term ended Jan. 1, served on council for 12 years. The reason he did not run for re-election in the fall was because he is planning on moving out of the borough. His plans have changed, and he will be residing in the borough for at least another nine months until his new house is built.
While Barrett will only be able to serve for several more months, council felt with the loss of Gilbert and Brown, they still need someone with seniority and experience for guidance not only for the new council members, but at the committee level as well.
“We had three council members move on that were all on the safety committee for 12 years together, so we have nobody with knowledge on that safety committee at all,” Council President Brent A. Labenberg said.
“I don’t want to lose that knowledge, and I need to have two new people on there with him to get that transition. I think that’s very important.”
Sorg-McManamon has been a resident of Emmaus for 30 years and has been volunteering for the last 12 years. She is the Emmaus Arts Commission president, is a chair for the Snow Blast Winter Arts Festival, was previously on the economic development committee, worked with the historical society and heritage alliance groups and won Volunteer of the Year for 2014.
“It’s time to take my volunteerism and professional experience to the next level,” she said. “I know how to budget, I know how to create consensus, build projects and build committees. I bring the more emotional side, if you will.”
Sorg-McManamon feels she can also bring more of a business and marketing side to council as well.
The other two candidates up for nomination were Theodore Iobst, a civil engineer who has long ties to the borough and is currently on the zoning hearing board. His father, Winfield Iobst, recently retired from 20 years of serving the borough as mayor.
Courtney Call Kennedy, a 15-year resident and water resources consultant engineer, was the third candidate up against Sorg-McManamon and Iobst.
A total of 14 residents applied for the vacant council seats; nine men and five women. Eleven of the applicants are democrats, two identified with no party and one libertarian. Candidates represented all six districts in Emmaus and have lived in the borough anywhere from three years to over 50 years.
The candidates were asked four main questions over a span of 10 minutes, including why they want to serve on council, what are the top three challenges facing the community today and how would they help solve them, if the candidates were available at specific times for committee meetings and what skill they possessed which council needed most. The floor was then open to council members to ask additional questions.
When asked what issues they felt were prominent in the borough, candidates all stated similar issues such as the sale of Rodale Inc., issues with sewer water and unnecessary flooding and development issues in general.
Council members expressed gratitude and praise to everyone who came out and applied. Council was happy so many residents were interested in making the borough a more enjoyable place to live.
It was expressed multiple times these applicants should not only volunteer to be on borough committees, but also should re-apply for consideration when Barrett has to leave toward the end of the year.
Councilman Chris DeFrain even encouraged the candidates to run against him when his term is up in two years. “The more choices that are available for office, the better things are,” he said.
Councilman Roy Anders expressed that applicants should keep coming back and giving their input at meetings. “Even if you’re not here, you can always email us and give us feedback on something you see, something that’s out there. We want to hear from you, and that goes for any resident out there.”