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Northampton County News

Northampton County commissioners, their solicitor, file opposing county court requests to fill board seat

Northampton County Courthouse, Easton, Pa.,
Donna S. Fisher
For LehighValleyNews.com
Northampton County Courthouse in Easton, Northampton County, Pa. in January, 2023.

EASTON, Pa. — Three members of Northampton County Council and the body’s attorney submitted dueling requests Friday morning for a county judge to appoint a new council member.

Council solicitor Christopher Spadoni appeared before County Judge Craig Dally to present a petition compelling the court to fill the vacancy left when Tara Zrinski resigned from county council.

Spadoni told the court his appearance was authorized by a 5-3 vote of council late Thursday to defer to the courts, and by council President Lori Vargo Heffner’s signature on the request he has since filed.

Solicitor Melissa Rudas appeared on behalf of the county to oppose the measure, arguing it amounted to a violation of the county’s home rule charter and could not be considered.

She introduced three members of the council present — Commissioners Ken Kraft, Jeff Warren and Kelly Keegan — who “don’t agree” with Spadoni’s filing and had one of their own.

The three asked the court to appoint International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 375 business manager Paul Anthony.

Kraft and Rudas both argued Thursday night’s vote was a decision to conclude the council had reached an impasse, but not to authorize the council's solicitor to appear in court on their behalf.

“I have not seen the petition she signed. I don’t know what it is. So how can we have [Spadoni] represent us?”
Northampton County Commissioner Ken Kraft

As a result, they said, Spadoni was effectively representing Vargo Heffner personally in the proceeding, which is not allowed.

“If [Vargo Heffner] would have known the procedure for running a meeting of council,” Kraft said after the hearing, she would have called a second vote on whether to send Spadoni to court on their behalf.

“I have not seen the petition she signed," he said. "I don’t know what it is. So how can we have [Spadoni] represent us?”

County court now has 15 days to make an appointment to the open seat, and may select any U.S. citizen who has lived in Northampton County for the past year.