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Lehigh Valley Election News

Municipal roundup: Election results from Lehigh Valley communities

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Nominees from the May 16, 2023, primary will compete in the general election on Nov. 7, 2023.

Northampton County

Palmer Township

PALMER TWP., Pa. — A field of seven candidates vying for one open supervisor’s seat has been whittled down to two after Tuesday’s primary election.

Township recreation booster Charles "Zeke" Bellis captured the Democratic nomination and will face Republican nominee Charles Diefenderfer in the November general election, according to unofficial election returns.

The primary field was split, with two Democrats and five Republicans on the ballot. Bellis, the owner of Easton Beverage who ran unsuccessfully in the 2017 Democratic primary for township supervisor, defeated Baron Vanderburg, 1,070 votes to 900.

Diefenderfer, a retired project manager who's on the township planning commission, led the GOP field with 431 votes. He finished ahead of candidates Kristopher Grube (297 votes), Andrew Rossi (285), Colin Burke (95) and Phil Taverna (63).

All current township board members are Democrats. The majority has served on the township’s board for more than a decade: Michael Brett and Joseph Armato were both elected in 2022; K. Michael Mitchell and Ann-Marie Panella, both elected in 2000; and Jeffrey Young, who was elected in 2014, but also served from 1988 to 1999.

Panella’s term will expire in December, and it’s her seat for which Bellis and Diefenderfer will compete in November.

Bethlehem Township

BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. — Tight races were the story in the township.

For the at-large commissioner seat, former commissioner Michael Hudak won the Democratic nomination over incumbent Luke Verdes by just 10 votes of nearly 2,200 cast, according to unofficial returns. Hudak captured 1,096 votes to Verdes' 1,086, according to the county.

If those results hold, Hudak will square off in November against victorious Republican nominee Steven Greco, who's currently on the township Recreational Advisory Board and Environmental Action Committee. Greco defeated former commissioner Paul Weiss, 724 votes to 541 votes.

Greco said people of the township should rest assured that his political affiliation won’t affect how he represents them if elected in November.

“I’m going to run in the final leg of this journey to try to be the commissioner for everyone in the township, not just the Republicans,” he said.

Verdes posted on his commissioner Facebook page about the tight race for commissioner-at-large between him and Hudak, stating there likely will be a recount.

“Regardless of the outcome, I want to thank everyone who came out to vote yesterday, and particularly thank those who supported my campaign,” Verdes wrote in a Facebook post.

“Running for public office is physically, mentally and emotionally draining,” he wrote. “No one understands this more than the family of a candidate.”

The race for the 1st Ward Republican nominee was as close as it can get. Returns show Arthur Murphy winning by a single vote over Wayne Buller, 170-169. If those results stand, Murphy will face Democratic incumbent DeAnn Lawrence in the fall. Lawrence was uncontested in her party's primary.

Although Lawrence ran uncontested and secured a swift nomination during the primary, she said she has more work to do before the general election later this year.

“I know for the general, I’ll be out on the street and going to events, just telling people what I’m all about and trying to keep my seat,” Lawrence said.

In the 3rd Ward, Democratic incumbent John Gallagher will face Republican Yuri Kulischenko in the general election. Neither faced a primary election challenge.

Lehigh County

South Whitehall Township

S. WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. — Two Republican incumbents,Jacob Roth andDiane Kelly, have secured the Republican nomination for township commissioner, along with township Public Safety Commission memberChris Peischl.

The three candidates teamed up during the campaign. They said they have similar priorities and visions for the township.

Former commissioner Thomas Johns ran uncontested on the Democratic ticket, and he will move onto the general election.

There are three open commissioner seats in the race. Roth, Kelly, Peishl and Johns will be on the general election ballot Nov. 7.

Local business owner and former commissionerBen Long was also on the Republican ballot, but did not secure the nomination.

About 23% of the votes in the Democratic primary went to write-in candidates. Since Long asked Democratic voters to write in his name on their ballots, he said he thinks he may be able to run in the general election as a Democrat. But he said it is “extremely unlikely” that he will campaign for it.

Development was the main focus of the campaign. Longargued that some developers have been treated unfairly in the township and that there is not a diversity of opinions on the board when it comes to development.

Kelly, Peischl and Roth all cited balanced growth among their top priorities. Peischl and Roth both said they were not happy with how previous commissioners handled the approval process for the controversial mixed-use developmentRidge Farms.

Whitehall Township

WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. — In the race for Whitehall Township commissioners, four Democrats and two Republicans captured their parties’ nominations, according to complete but unofficial results.

The Democrats are Jeff Warren, Ken Snyder, Michael Dee and Victor Nassar. The Republicans are LoriAnn Fehnel and Elizabeth Fox.

Randy Atiyeh, the athletic director at William Allen High School in Allentown, was the only candidate seeking re-election who was unsuccessful.

Hot topics in the fall’s race will be public safety, transparency and business. In interviews, all the candidates spoke about at least most of those topics, with multiple expressing frustration in the way the township now operates.

Warren is a geologist and was involved with various township business commissions and boards. Snyder owns Spectrum Real Estate. Dee is chief of staff for state Rep. Jeanne McNeill, and had a brief stint on the board in 2020. Nassar is a businessman with a real estate background in Whitehall.

Fehnel and Fox are first-time candidates for the board and were the only two Republicans on the ballot. Fehnel has a background in emergency dispatch. Fox comes from a communications background, and is involved with various military groups in the area.

Lowhill Township

LOWHILL TWP., Pa. —Township Supervisor Curtis Dietrich and planning commission member Michael Divers have secured the Republican nominations for the two contested seats for township supervisor.

There were no Democratic candidates, meaning Dietrich and Divers will be the only candidates on the ballot in the general election. Divers received the nomination for the supervisors' open six-year term seat. Dietrich captured it for the open four-year seat.

Opposing Republican candidate and township roadmaster Joseph Kalusky ran in the primary for both the six- and four-year seats but failed to win the nomination to either.

Dietrich ran to complete the rest of the term he was appointed to fill when former Supervisor Robb Werley resigned. He is a Northwestern Lehigh High School graduate, and formerly was superintendent of the North Penn School District in Lansdale, Montgomery County.

Divers has been a Lowhill resident for 20 years and has been involved with the Fogelsville Fire Company since 1991.

The race has primarily focused on the proposed warehouses in the township and the litigation against the township regarding them.

Supervisors Chairman Richard Hughes is not running for re-election. He said he has been on the board for many years and is “worn out.” He said he also faces health issues.

Lower Macungie

L. MACUNGIE TWP. — Two spots on the Republican ticket were up for grabs in the township.

Retired electric lineman Ron R. Beitler sailed into the top spot with nearly twice the amount of votes (2,235) as his two competitors.

Complete but unofficial results show incumbent and former planning commission member Maury Robert capturing the second nomination. He beat engineering manager and biomedical engineer Gregory Chaputa by just 17 votes, 1,171 to 1,154, according to the county.

There were no Democrats on the ballot, but more than 350 write-ins were tallied. Further information on those write-ins — including whether or not anyone received enough to get on the November ballot — is anticipated from county election officials later this week.

All three GOP candidates mentioned managing growth as a priority for the upcoming term, and the importance of preserving farmland.

Upper Macungie

UPPER MACUNGIE TWP., Pa. – Democrat Jeff Fleischaker will face Republican Dr. Greg Wheeler, of Breinigsville, for an open Upper Macungie Township supervisor seat this fall.

Wheeler defeated Doug in the Republican ballot Tuesday, according to complete but unofficial results.

Current board of supervisors Vice Chairwoman Kathy Rader is vacating the position this year.

It’s one of the fastest growing municipalities in the state, with land development projects in the works and many warehouses moving in over the past decade.

Three candidates were on the ballot for the position in the May primary: Democrat Fleischaker and Republicans Doug Gernerd and Wheeler.

Fleischaker is a practicing attorney at Engel, Wiener, Bergstein, & Fleischaker in Allentown. Born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, he’s a father of three, and his wife moved to the Lehigh Valley more than 15 years ago.

Fleischaker said the land use in the area will be his main focus if he’s elected. He’s also the vice chairman of the Upper Macungie Township Zoning Hearing Board and is on the board of directors at the Jewish Community Center.

Gernerd also mentioned land use, but said public safety is his main focus.

Gerhard, a father of two, was born and raised in Fogelsville and recently retired from Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Emergency Medical Institute, though he still works part time as a medic for the city of Allentown.

With a background in public service as a retired chief of the Fogelsville Fire Department, Gernerd said he’s concerned that the teams of first responders have not grown with the township.

Wheeler campaigned on maintaining low taxes and fiscal responsibility.


ALBURTIS, Pa. — In a race of five incumbents with just four seats available, Chad Atkins, John Aleszcyk, Mehmet Birtek and Ron Delaco secured their spot when running for the four-year term in November.

Ashlynn Rivera, the newest addition to the council, did not make the cut for the November election, but may have another chance as the seat she currently occupies will be up for a separate two-year term election.

It will be on the November ballot and candidates will be nominated by the respective party officials, according to Lehigh County Board of Elections Clerk Timothy Benyo.

No Democrats ran on that party's ticket. But 100 write-ins were tallied. Details of the names and whether any of the write-ins made the fall ballot won't be available from county election officials until later in the week.

More capsules will be posted throughout the day. See more results for contested primary races here.