Bethlehem City Council shifts to a female majority

Written by on May 27, 2021

Bethlehem City Council shifts to a female majority

By Megan Frank

May 27, 2021

Bethlehem City Hall. Photo | Courtesy of The Brown and White.

For the first time in more than a century, Bethlehem City Council will have a female majority after four women made history in last week’s primary election. 

Listen to the story.

Their election reflects a larger trend.

Voters endorsed Councilwoman Grace Crampsie Smith for a second term and selected political newcomers Rachel Leon, Hillary Kwiatek, and Kiera Wilhelm.

All of the women are Democrats and face no Republican opponents in November. 

Breena Holland, associate professor of Political Science and the Environmental Initiative at Lehigh University, says since 2016 when Hillary Clinton ran for president, there has been a trend of women organizing campaigns and running for office. 

“That [election] motivated them to go out and start political organizing,” Holland says.

The women who currently serve on council, she says, paved an in-road for the new female majority.

“I think part of it has to do with just seeing women in these positions. Listening to them and seeing how well they’re doing at the local level,” Holland says. 

Holland says the election reflects a larger trend… with women now making up more than a quarter of Congress — the highest percentage in U-S history. 

Another council vacancy could open up later this year since Councilman J. William Reynolds was chosen as the Democratic nominee for mayor

If Reynolds defeats Republican John Kachmar in the mayoral race, one of council’s first tasks could be to fill his seat.

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