Friday, October 23, 2015

The LuLac Edition #3052, October 23rd, 2015


The candidates prepare before the debate. From the top left, Republican Jeff Cusat, Independent Scott Cahalane and Democrat Jack Mundie. (Photo: LuLac).
Your blog editor and WYLN TV 35's Gary Perna. (Photo: WYLN TV 35)
There were two debates on the same night this week for the office of Mayor of Hazleton and Wilkes Barre.
First Hazleton. I was happy to be on the panel that interviewed the three candidates running for Mayor in Hazleton. The debate was held at The HIP Center, a building that was developed and spearheaded by Chicago Cubs Manager Joe Maddon to help unite the city of Hazleton. Prior to the event there was a buzz about The Cubs trying to stay alive in the National League Championship Series. But at 7Pm the business of politics started as WYLN TV 35’s Tiffany Cloud, Gary Perna and I began to hear what the candidates had to present to voters.
The three candidates, Democrat Jack Mundie, Independent Scott Cahalane, and GOP member Jeff Cusat exchanged views. A few observations on the candidates and what they had to say.
MUNDIE: The most experienced of the three Mundie is currently in his fourth term on Council. At the debate Mundie touted his role as a member of council in regards to a services agreement between the city and Hazleton City Authority that made about $4 millions so far and according to him and will gain another $8 million when it concludes.
Mundie suggested selling authority-owned land that could raise money for hiring police and repairing roads. At one point Mundie said his relationship with the current Police Chief is good after a disagreement and an e mail exchange between the two. Mundie touted his experience in his final remarks and seemed to have some very vociferous supporters in the crowd.
CAHALANE: The ex Marine and Independent came off very well in his appearance. He cited his role as an outsider who could offer another set of eyes in city government. One of the things he told the audience he wanted to avoid was the back and forth insults that didn’t seem to be productive between the Mayor and Council. The Independent was the only candidate who was using social media and said he hoped voters would turn out for him in this effort. The Independent also added that he was running because he felt he felt crime was out of control and that there was a dangerous eroding of the tax base. He was the only candidate to address the issue of performance reviews and stated he’d ask city employees what type of job they can do for the city. In closing statements, Cahalane had the best line when, sitting between two incumbent and experienced Council members he said, “The Titantic was built by experienced people, Noah’s Ark was built by amateurs. Which one worked out the best?”
CUSAT: Cusat trumpeted the same themes from his primary race against Mayor Joe Yanuzzi. The Council member who ran for Mayor in 2011 said he didn’t agree with how the city treats its citizens, and takes advantage of businesses. He also said that the recreational facilities in the city seemed to deteriorate. and allows its playgrounds to deteriorate. Cusat referred to 30 items he as a Republican has proposed before Council only to see them not voted upon. Cusat, a multi business owner said he would be a full time Mayor and have other people tend to his affairs.
All three candidates were cordial, and each presented a calm and reasoned rationale for their candidacies. On interesting side note that was brought out was names of both former Mayors John Ford and John Quigley. Mundie cited Quigley’s leadership and newcomer Cahalane and Cusat brought up the late Mayor Ford as a person who looked for the city.
All three said they would attend Council meetings which has been a bone of contention between the current council and outgoing Mayor Joe Yanuzzi.

Wilkes Barre Mayoral candidates Frank Sorick and Tony George. (Photo: Times Leader).
During the summer GOP challenger Frank Sorick took to defending Democratic nominee Tony George for his issues with his campaign finance reports. But the gloves were off on Wednesday night at the Burke center when both men stated their opinion on the issues.
Both agreed crime was the biggest concern. Tony George said that before any economic development could begin, crime had to be tamped down.
Sorick brought up a letter that George had written about former Judge Mark Ciavarella saying that a Law and Order candidate should not have complemented a convicted official. George said that the letter referred to Ciaverella’s role as a Judge who promised he’d be tough on juvenile crime.
On crime both men agreed that more officers were needed as well as a neighborhood presence in the city.
About 200 people attended. Here is a video of the big event. 

One interesting side light of the debate was that there was a consensus that both candidates did well but did not necessarily inspire. As a matter of fact there was even talk of the current Mayor Tom Leighton mounting a Write In campaign to return for a fourth term. Leighton was noncommittal but according to the Times Leader’s Bill O’Boyle seemed and these are my words, intrigued.


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