Eckhart: There is no point in asking Phil Armstrong to step down

Written by on October 28, 2021

Eckhart: There is no point in asking Phil Armstrong to step down

By Tyler Pratt

October 28, 2021

The Nov. 2, 2021 election includes the race for Lehigh County executive. (File photo)

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – A recent federal lawsuit cites negligence and mismanagement at a Lehigh County 911 center. It names Lehigh County Executive Phil Armstrong as a defendant. 

Armstrong, a Democrat, is up for reelection on Nov. 2 and now some community members are calling for his resignation.  But his challenger for the seat, Glenn Eckhart, isn’t one of them.

Listen to the story.

The former Lehigh County controller, a Republican, said there’s no point in asking Armstrong, who’s a Democrat, to step down with the election days away.

“Even if he does right now, under the home rule charter, it would take 45 days to replace him,” Eckhart said.

The lawsuit alleges Lehigh County 911 dispatchers refused to talk with some Spanish-speaking people, and in one instance, hung up on the caller resulting in two deaths in a fire last year. 

In a public statement, Armstrong disputed the allegations calling them baseless. 

Eckhart said it will be up to the court to decide. But said he does think the county is mismanaged.

“County government has been adrift. Employees aren’t happy. The direction of the county government is not being run like a business, it’s not efficient.”

Eckhart said the county suffers from, “long-term problems that have been developing for years.”

Eckhart also alleges more lawsuits against the county may be forthcoming, specifically regarding what he says is an overworked and understaffed corrections department. Corrections officers complained publicly earlier this year they were stretched thin and forced to work long hours amid a surge of COVID-19 in the jail.

At a recent Lehigh County Executive race debate, Armstrong acknowledged the county was short on corrections officers. He said he had given them additional hazard pay, was actively trying to recruit more people for the jobs and enacted a study to give officers “more equitable pay.”

Polls open at 7 a.m. on Nov. 2.  Mail in ballots must be returned or deposited in a county drop box by 8 pm. on Election Day.

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