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Northampton County News

Court to pick new Northampton County commissioner

Northampton County Courthouse, Easton, Pa.,
Donna S. Fisher
For LehighValleyNews.com
Northampton County Courthouse in Easton, Northampton County, Pa.

EASTON, Pa. — A Northampton County judge will appoint the next member of county council after the body deadlocked once again Thursday.

Ten rounds of voting at a meeting last month followed by two even splits Thursday led the council to walk away, voting 5-3 to ask the court to fill County Controller Tara Zrinski’s former seat.

“Apparently we are at an impasse — first time that’s ever happened in my time — and I can see the point in going to the court,” council Vice President Ron Heckman said shortly before the final vote.

“I would prefer council handle it.”

From start to finish, the council’s three most recent additions — Ken Kraft, Kelly Keegan and Jeff Warren — supported Paul Anthony, business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 375.

The final two rounds saw Heckman join the trio in supporting Anthony; the other four members united first around former commissioner Kerry Myers, and then 2023 Easton mayoral candidate Peter Melan.

'Not a rubber stamp'

During an hours-long debate last month, Commissioners John Goffredo and Lori Vargo Heffner worried aloud that appointing Anthony to join the trio backing him would amount to giving four votes on the council to McClure — enough to prevent the council from ever overriding his veto.

“I need to have faith that we have that veto. This is not ‘hand the county executive everything.’ It’s not.”
Northampton County Commissioner Vargo Heffner

“I need to have faith that we have that veto," Vargo Heffner said. "This is not ‘hand the county executive everything.’ It’s not.”

Keegan, Kraft and Warren categorically denied that they were votes for McClure, and accused the others of working to obstruct him at every opportunity.

“I’m not the derogatory term 'a rubber stamp,'” Keegan said Thursday. “You call us rubber stamps, but it seems you want your own.”

Ahead of the November election, McClure said in an interview that victories from Kraft, Keegan and Warren would amount to a win for himself.

Council solicitor Christopher Spadoni said he intends to present a petition on council’s behalf to county court Friday morning.

The judge charged with selecting the county’s next commissioner will be able to choose any U.S. resident who has lived in the county for the past year.