The race for Lower Macungie Township Commissioner this year reminds me of the 1991 race for Louisiana Governor.
Disgraced former Governor Ed Edwards was seeking a comeback election. His opponent, was racist KKK supporter David Duke. Bumper stickers around the state featured slogans like "Better a Lizard than a Wizard" and "Vote for the Crook, it's Important". Fortunately for the great state of Louisiana, the crook, not the Nazi, won.
In the race for Lower Macungie Township Commissioner, you have the 3 incumbents: Ryan Conrad, Roger Reis, and Ron Eichenberg. Though all 3 are accused of having a particularly cozy relationship with developer Dave Jaindl, Eichenberg is probably the one closest to an ethics violation.
Let me note at this point that if there were any actual ethics breach, I have no doubt that the Citizens for the Protection of Lower Macungie Township would have filed a complaint with the State Ethics Board long ago and this would be a moot point.
The challengers are former Democrat Committeeman Ron Beitler and my 2011 School Board nemesis, Brian "paying taxes is your patriotic duty" Higgins.
Higgins and Beitler are wrapping themselves in the trappings of "Good government". Both have, in the past, been proponents of Big Government.
That's not to say that Conrad, Reis, and Eichenberg are blameless either.
Reis is one of the parties responsible for the Jane Ervin 70% tax hike. Eichenberg admitted to having opposed the township lowering the tax to 0 mils decades ago.
Ryan Conrad is probably the most Conservative AND politically ambitious of the bunch. Much as Jane Fretz would like to claim otherwise, Conrad has zero chance to lose. He has the looks, the work ethic, and the network of a winner. He'll never vote for a tax hike because he knows it would be death for any political future. I'm comfortable with that in an elected official. I don't care what a politician's motive for doing the right thing is so long as they do the right thing.
The plot thickens...
Higgins and Beitler are running as the "for the people, anti-realtor" candidates. Irony is frequently ironic. Who is behind the Higgins-Beitler campaign?
Twice-failed State House candidate Patrick "Slanderous" Slattery's "Citizens for Strong Communities" is largely funded by Emmaus Realtor Wesley Barrett and receives a good portion of its political structure from Jane Fretz (the wife of a prominent local realtor) old anti-taxpayer school board organization.
Jane Fretz and Wes Barrett have made a lot of money in Emmaus from taxes being raised. Fretz has, for decades, backed candidates for East Penn School Board that kiss the ring of the Unions and raise taxes annually. In the last several cycles, Wes Barrett has followed the lead of Zen Master Jane.
You see, as the old Pennsylvania Dutch natives are forced out of their homes due to ever increasing property taxes, Suburban professionals move in from New York and New Jersey where taxes are so astronomical that levels in East Penn seem reasonable. Who is selling these homes? Fretz Realty and, in the past few years, Wes Barrett Realty. Quite a (perfectly legal, if insidious) racket they've got going on.
Apparently taxes in Lower Macungie Township have stayed low for a little too long. Now Fretz-Barrett and their front-man Patrick Slattery want to extend their tentacles into the LMT Board of Commissioners.
There are perfectly legitimate reasons to be concerned about the way the Jaindl incident was handled. I would have liked to have seen a "clean" slate of 3 Republican challengers (not Union-Democrats in Republican clothing) run and do right by Lower Macungie Township (the 3rd largest municipality in the Lehigh Valley).
Reality is, you've got to vote for the candidates you have, not the candidates you wish you had.
All 3 incumbents are Realtors.
Both challengers are backed by Realtors with a history of standing against the taxpayers.
On Tuesday, May 21st, "Vote for the Realtors. It's important."