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Elections

Emrick takes lead in 137th District race

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Element5 Digital
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Pexels
Incumbent Joe Emrick holds a slight lead according to unofficial results.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Republican incumbent Joe Emrick was fending off a challenge by Democrat Anna Thomas early Wednesday in the race for the recently reconfigured 137th District state House seat.

With 95% of the district’s precincts reporting unofficial results, Emrick led 15,391 votes to 14,246.

Redistricting means the 137th now encompasses Bangor, Nazareth, Parts of Palmer Township, Tatamy and Stockertown.

Before being elected to the Legislature, Emrick was a high school economics and American government teacher in the Lower Moreland Township School District in Montgomery County.

Thomas is a newcomer, though she lives in the district and was born and raised in Bethlehem. She served on Bethlehem Area School Board and said she and her family are Christians. Thomas said she is a political independent and, having lived in the Lehigh Valley, is accustomed to working with both blue and red politics.

The candidates appear to diverge on many key issues.

Emrick has not given statements on campaign issues, but as a legislator has voted yes to a bill that would prohibit abortions on the diagnosis of Down syndrome. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf.

Emrick also voted yes to a bill in 2017, later also vetoed by Wolf, that would ban abortions after 20 weeks unless a physician in writing deems it necessary to prevent death or irreversible injury to those pregnant.

Thomas said she supports abortion access and stated on her website that she will defend the right of Pennsylvanians to make family-planning decisions.

Thomas wants to ensure that Bethlehem Area, Nazareth Area and Easton Area school districts receive fair funding that can help bolster workforce development.

Emrick voted to approve the 2023 state budget, which allotted more than $500 million in additional funding to grades K-12. It also included an additional $100 million in special education funding and $80 million for early childhood education.