Rated one of Pennsylvania's top blog/sites, the LuLac Political Letter delves into issues of politics on all levels (with special concentration on Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties: thus the name LULAC) and pop culture.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
The LuLac Edition #2074, May 31st, 2012
This blog editor with the late Senator at a function during the 2009 elections.
(Photo by Gort 42).
Former 20th District State Senator Charles Lemmond died Thursday at the age of 83. His death was announced by his long time aide who later succeeded him in the same office, Lisa Baker. Lemmond was an institution in Luzerne county law and politics. But before that, he and his wife Barbara were extremely active in the volunteer community throughout Luzerne County with a special concentration on the Back Mountain Memorial Library as well as Childsren’s issues. Politically, Lemmond first made his mark as a Luzerne County Judge. He was appointed to fill a term by Governor Richard Thornbugh. As a Luzerne County Judge, he had a sterling reputation for fairness and thoroughness. However he was defeated when he tried to seek a full ten year term because of the juggernaut they called the Democratic party of the 1980s. I remember the late Joe Tirpak who was County Chairman at the time saying, “The only thing wrong with him is that he isn’t one of ours”.
He was defeated by then District Attorney Chester Muroski. Lemmond always presented himself in a very refined and dignified manner. That led some political operatives to underestimate him. When State Senator Frank O’Connell announced abruptly in 1985, nearly at the end of his second term that he was resigning, Lemmond entered the race for the Senate seat. Almost immediately, Charles Kirkwood, a hotel owner from the Poconos launched a tough campaign directed at the fact that the growing Poconos needed representation. His campaign operatives savagely attacked Lemmond as just the same old politico looking to advance himself. Lemmond fought back in a very reserved but determined manner. When the smoke had cleared, Lemmond won a convincing victory tallying up huge margins in Luzerne and Wyoming County as well as the upper tier counties of the district. Trouncing Kirkwood in the primary, Lemmond won the Special Election defeating Democrat Joe Bilbow. Elected to his own term in 1986, Lemmond never looked back. He was heavily involved in his district work but went about his efforts quietly. Lemmond would host visitors in his Harrisburg office and insisted they imbibe in a bottle of Hank’s Root Beer which he kept at the ready for constituent visitors. I had a few meetings with him in Harrisburg as did Mrs. LuLac. Out of town this week, Mrs. LuLac spied a Hank’s Root Beer display in Virginia and shared the story that a former State Senator from our area would serve that drink in his office. In all of the meetings we both had with Lemmond, there were other constants than the Root Beer. He’d be honest with you in terms of what he could do for your issue and you’d always get an answer within 48 hours. In later years, I’d see Lemmond at various campaign events which he chose very carefully. Lemmond was a curious mix of power and quiet leadership that is rare in Harrisburg and Washington these days. He never raised his voice to get attention, the attention always seemed to gravitate toward him. He was a combination of knowledge and power that he used for the good of his community. My personal opinion is that he would have preferred to remain a Judge. But fate had other plans and the residents of the 20th district were blessed with a steady leader representing them for nearly two decades. Our condolences to his family as well as people like Senator Baker who was very close to him. There will be many tributes dedicated to the late Senator. But I bet his favorite would be if some of his friends and constituents would track down an ice cold Hank’s Root Beer, lift it in his honor and take a swig. I think the Senator would appreciate that gesture.
Location: Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, United States
Author of the book "A Radio Story/We Wish You Well In Your Future Endeavors" and "Leges Vitae" "26 Rules of Life" and the new novel, "Weather Or Knot". The blog editor also writes various news articles and columns as well as upcoming literary projects. The blog editor was a frequent guest on WYOU TV'S INTERACTIVE NEWSCASTS when political issues were discussed on the national, state and local level. Currently, Yonki is a weekly panelist on WYLN TV 35's Friday Topic A program. He also appears on the Hazleton, PA. stations Election Night coverage and does special projects and stories for WYLN TV 35's 10PM Newscast "Late Edition".