Inside Your Town

Dan McCarthy steps down after 12 years as Lehigh County Commissioner

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Daniel McCarthy, who has served for 12 years as a Lehigh County commissioner, was honored by his colleagues at the end of his final commissioners' meeting Wednesday night.

McCarthy chose not to seek another four-year term.

"You will definitely be missed on this board," said Lisa Scheller, president of the nine commissioners, who presented him with a plaque in recognition of his "years of dedicated service to the citizens of Lehigh County."

"It's been a great run," said McCarthy, adding that being a county commissioner since 2002 was an opportunity to serve the public that's not granted to most people.

All of the other eight county commissioners took turns praising McCarthy.

"I hate for this meeting to end," he joked.

He was one of only two Democrats on the nine-member board of commissioners and often found himself out-voted by the conservative Republican majority in the last couple of years.

David Jones, the other Democratic commissioner, used the words balance, perspective, demeanor and wisdom to characterize McCarthy's service as a commissioner.

In January, McCarthy's seat will be taken by fellow Democrat Geoffrey Brace, who was elected in November. "He'll fill your seat," Jones told McCarthy. "But you'll be a hard man to replace and I will miss serving with you."

Percy Dougherty, the most senior county commissioner, served with McCarthy for the entire 12 years. He called McCarthy a very productive commissioner who "has always looked for ways to work with anybody on any side of the argument, to try to bring some consensus."

McCarthy is a lawyer. Dougherty said he has always been well-spoken and "used his lawyer skills to talk us into a path that was somewhat up the middle. I will miss your sage advice."

Dougherty noted at one time three of the nine commissioners were lawyers. "Fortunately, we're down to just one now. But what are we going to do with no lawyers going forward?"

McCarthy, a 65-year-old Allentown resident, continues to serve as chairman of the Allentown Zoning Hearing Board.

"Dan's just a straight shooter," said Scott Ott. "One day I went into his office and said ‘I'd like to get your support on this, can you support this?' and he said ‘No…and here's why…'"

Ott said there have been a couple of times in the last year or so when McCarthy's carefully thought-out reasoning caused him to rethink his own position and change his vote.

Vic Mazziotti told McCarthy: "What struck me is how often you and I have voted on opposite sides of our issues and how often I've left the meeting with great respect for your opinion, the way you expressed what you had to say, why you reached that conclusion."

Added Dougherty: "You stayed a gentleman throughout the whole 12 years."

Quipped McCarthy: "And then I went home and kicked the dog!"

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