EMMAUS BOROUGH COUNCIL
The Emmaus Borough Council chose John W. Hart to fill a vacant seat at a special meeting held Jan. 3.
Hart was one of five candidates seeking council appointment to the post vacated by Wesley R. Barrett who resigned Dec. 3, 2018. The Barretts had relocated nearby, but outside of the borough.
Hart is a retired Lehigh Valley Health Network senior vice president of medical operations. Although a registered Democrat, he said he considers council seats as “not political.”
“You’re doing what’s best for the community and it’s not based on party membership or party philosophy,” he explained.
When asked why he was interested in serving as a councilman, Hart replied, “I am blessed with having achieved all my vocational goals and personal goals in life. I simply want to give back to the community that was so very good to myself and the family.”
Hart identified what he thought the first of the top three challenges facing the community was: utilizing public relations as “educational opportunities” for informing the public on the reasons behind the council’s recent decision to chose a different refuse vendor or policies on lateral sewer pipe inspection and groundwater issues.
Maintaining borough-owned buildings, recreational facilities and grounds were second on his list. Hart suggested they investigate innovating funding for these projects, including business sponsorships of playgrounds.
Hart mentioned finding new occupants for the vacant Rodale Press and other buildings was the third challenge facing Emmaus. He said council should focus on “recruiting the best facility tenants. Simply getting someone to buy the building isn’t necessarily the most desirous thing for us.”
Regarding what skills he can bring to the table, Hart cited his financial and budgetary expertise gained from chairing the capital budget committee and other duties while employed at LVHN.
“I possess an acute appreciation of human capital. I had over 500 people reporting directly to me,” he added.
Hart related he had an understanding of what it is like to own a small business and that he had been a partner in a diagnostic healthcare marketing and research company at one time.
Since he was retired, Hart said he has better control of his schedule and would be available for council meetings, as well as committee commitments.
After being sworn in, Hart volunteered to chair the budget and finance committee and serve on the community relations/planning and development and public safety committees. His term expires Jan. 1, 2020.
The remaining four applicants were David Bocchino, Alice Fortunato, Jim Kercher and Trevor Schneck. Each provided similar answers to the same four questions of why they wished to serve, what the borough’s three top challenges were, their availability and what skill sets they could offer. The candidates also fielded questions from individual council members. All were praised by council for their interest and were advised to find ways to serve the community as volunteers.
The candidates also were encouraged to run for council seats in the next election.
The Emmaus Borough Council meets regularly 7 p.m. on the first and third Monday of each month in the council chambers in Emmaus Borough Hall. 28 S. Fourth St.