Bethlehem mayoral candidates debate affordable housing, taxes, COVID-19 relief money days before May 18 primary

Written by on May 14, 2021

PBS39 and WLVR hosted a debate on May 13 between the two Democratic candidates who will face-off in Bethlehem’s mayoral primary on May 18.

By Megan Frank

May 13, 2021

The in-person forum covered issues like affordable housing and tax increases.

From the start, It was heated between Dana Grubb, a photographer and former city administrator, and J. William Reynolds, a history teacher and Bethlehem City Council member.

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Both men voiced displeasure at mailers that each had circulated about the other. At one point, Reynold’s apologized. 

“Putting Donald Trump on one side of it was probably not the best way for us to respond to his attacks,” Reynolds says.

They moved on and talked about how the city should spend the $34 million it’s getting from the American Rescue Plan for COVID relief. 

“I would focus on affordable housing and making sure that we have a permanent homeless shelter,” Reynolds says.

Grubb agreed. He added that the money could be spread out into multiple areas.

“I think we also need to look at public infrastructure,” Grubb says.  

Grubb was critical of the city’s budget decisions including a $60-per-household “stormwater fee” approved by council earlier this year. 

“I think some of the raises given to city employees,double figure raises, that’s hard to justify when people are struggling financially,” Grubb says. 

Both candidates said “no” when asked whether the city should defund police. 

Grubb wants police to work with social services more and Reynolds supports a community policing approach. 

“The provision of services where they may be needed, children and youth, drug and alcohol, mental health, would go a long way in assisting police,” Grubb says.

Reynolds supports a community policing approach.

“Our community should absolutely have the ability to interact with our police officers and City Hall in non-confrontational ways,” Reynolds says.

The debate was held in partnership with Lehigh Valley Live and the Hispanic Center of the Lehigh Valley
The primary election is Tuesday, May 18. The winner will face-off with Republican candidate John Kachmar in November.

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