Lehigh Valley

Candidates for Allentown mayor make their case on TV

SALISBURY TWP., Pa. - November's general election may be months away, but Democratic Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and his Republican opponent, Nat Hyman, went one on one with Business Matters' host Tony Iannelli on Thursday.

"I think the NIZ [Neighborhood Improvement Zone] is Allentown's golden goose," Hyman said.

"Five-hundred new apartments, thousands of new Jobs," Pawlowski stated.

A key topic was Allentown's Neighborhood Improvement Zone, which Pawlowski said he will tout to voters.

"Billions of dollars worth of development, thousands of new jobs, fastest-growing city in the state," he said.

Hyman, a local businessman, however, said Pawlowski's role as mayor in the development was small and he shouldn’t' take credit for it.

"The NIZ is the brainchild of Pat Browne," Hyman said. "He brought it here."

Hyman hammered Pawlowksi on the FBI cloud circling him and the city and said it's hampering the potential of the NIZ.

"I think instead of $1 billion, it could have been $2 or $3 or $4 billion. Who's to know? We aren't getting a lot of new businesses in Allentown," Hyman  said. "That's been the one criticism of the NIZ. It's kind a recalculating businesses that have been out there in the suburbs. I want to bring businesses from other states, other cities."

Pawlowski, however, said he's undeterred, and it's not hurting city progress.

"A 12-story building is going up. A 20-story building is on the way. All of our roads are being repaired," Pawlowski said.

Hyman, a developer and one-time Democrat but fiscal conservative, stressed he will maximize the NIZ to bring down property taxes.

Pawlowski said he's sticking by his record for the remainder of the race.

"My record is pretty clear. We went from major deficits to surpluses, resolved our pensions, 10 straight years of decreased crime," Pawlowski stated.

Voter turnout was also tackled. Pawlowski won with only 28 percent of the vote in May's low-turnout primary election. He said he's not bothered by it and expects a bigger turnout in the general election.

Hyman will have to woo weary Democrats.

"I'm going to restore integrity and transparency and honesty back to City Hall," Hyman said.

Staying with the man voters know or taking a chance on the unknown, they will decide Allentown's fate this November.

The Business Matters show featuring Ed Pawlowski can be seen on 69-WFMZ-TV on June 19; the show featuring Nat Hyman will air on June 26.

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