East Penn Press

Tuesday, January 28, 2020
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Glenn Eckhart — What’s next?

Wednesday, January 8, 2020 by Debbie Galbraith dgalbraith@tnonline.com in Local News

Two-term Lehigh County Controller Republican Glenn Eckhart is looking to the next chapter of his life, after losing the November 2019 election to Democrat Mark Pinsley.

To know where Eckhart is going next, one must look at where he has been. Although he is one who looks to the future, it is clear the past has molded Eckhart into the person he is today.

“I was always interested in politics,” Eckhart said. He remembers the year 1980 when Ronald Reagan was elected president. “I was 13 and thought that was the coolest thing in the world.”

After selling his lawn business in 1994, he had an opportunity to become a Lehigh County Republican committee person three days before the election. “I worked the polls, made telephone calls and fell in love with it,” Eckhart said. “I realized how few people were involved and realized I could make a difference.”

“In 1996, I ran for the state house and lost badly to Andy Roman and he went on to lose to T.J. Rooney in the general election,” Eckhart said.

In 1997, Alex Karol was elected to the Salisbury School District School Board and was appointed head football coach for Salisbury. Eckhart ran for the vacancy and won with 66 percent of the vote for the two-year term. “In 1998, taxes didn’t go up — the last year there was no increase,” Eckhart said.

In 1999, at the urging of Ron Evans, Eckhart ran for Salisbury’s first ward commissioner — a four-year term. He won that seat with 57 percent of the vote. “I probably was the first Republican in the first ward. By the end of the first term, we went to 12 police officers — an increase that had not happened for 30 years. I am most proud of that,” Eckhart said.

Eckhart ran for a second term and won with 58 percent of the vote even with the Republican registration falling to 32 percent. He only served two years because he ran for Lehigh County Commissioner in 2005.

“I won that election — only by 300 or 400 votes. Democrat Don Cunningham and I came in together – he as the county executive,” Eckhart said. “It was not a good year to be a Republican.” He was reelected in 2009.

“In 2011, I decided to run for controller. I felt like I could get more done and I know we did that.” He was reelected in 2015.

Eckhart believes his biggest accomplishment at the county was getting a unanimous vote on pension reform from Republicans and Democrats including the executive branch which will save millions of dollars.

In 1987, the lifetime health care for county employees ended. “That meant people no longer retired. Older employees are under the old plan and employees who started in 2016 or later are on the new plan,” Eckhart said.

Eckhart is also very proud of the controllers conference held recently in Lehigh County — it hasn’t been held in Lehigh County since 1960.

He was one of three controllers appointed to the executive board of the Pennsylvania State Association of County Elected Officials; “Lehigh County hadn’t had someone on that board since 1995,” Eckhart said. The board includes three individuals from each position who advocate for good county public policy, Eckhart said.

Eckhart was also involved with the Pennsylvania State Association of County Controllers.

“While controller, I campaigned on my experience. When I became the controller, I had five people in the office that had over 12 years each of experience. The reality was that if I finished a third term I would have had 12 years of experience and I would have been the only one. Within a year from now, there won’t be one person in the office with over seven years of experience.

“I had six years experience being a county commissioner going into the controller position. I wanted to make sure I was a pivotal part of the training on how the office works.

“My main focus was to make sure the office was functional for the future. When you do an audit, you have to understand how every single department works from a to z. We have over 20 different departments. If you don’t have any background or history on how the department operates, things will be missed.

“That was the main reason I ran again was that I realized I was the focal point,” Eckhart said.

“I was endorsed by the Lehigh Valley Labor Council. They knew I had the experience and treated everyone fairly. I had hoped for the benefit of the county to win the election,” Eckhart said.

“You get to a point in your life where it gets harder to campaign. They were getting ugly. I felt a duty and a responsibility to make sure I was the hinge that got us from the past into the future. I was willing to do that knowing the challenges in the county and the political atmosphere,” Eckhart said.

Eckhart is looking forward to new opportunities after 22 years of public service.

Being a history buff, he and his wife Sandy will provide bus tours to historical places. He loves teaching, loves historical places and believes there isn’t enough teaching about the history around us. Four or five different tours to the Gettysburg area are planned. Eckhart said the bus trips will be fun and educational.

“I am done with politics for now,” Eckhart said. “I think there is a brighter future in the private sector.”

Fans will also be able to catch Eckhart on the radio where he will interview different people on a variety of topics.

The show will be aired on Sunny 1100 AM also 98.5 WGPA — Jolly Joes old station. It is a family-owned business. The first show will air Feb. 5. Weekly shows will be aired between 10-11 a.m. on Wednesdays. The first interview will be announced soon.

“We will be telling good stories of good businesses, nonprofits, financial issues and volunteers,” Eckhart said.

Eckhart said he is looking forward to his next opportunities.

For more information on Eckhart, contact him at eckhart3@yahoo.com or call 484-538-1020.