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Northampton County executive candidates face off in debate

BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. - Candidates for the Northampton County Executive office took part in a spirited debate Thursday evening involving a number of issues of interest to county residents at Northampton Community College.

The candidates in the debate included Republican incumbent County Executive John Brown and former County Councilman Lamont McClure, seeking the Democratic nomination.

The debate was hosted by the Northampton County League of Women Voters and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Dr. John Kincaid, the Robert B. and Helen S. Meyner Professor of Government and Public Service at Lafayette College, served as moderator.

Brown previously served as mayor of Bangor, while McClure is currently an attorney.

McClure immediately referenced his desire, if elected, to pursue a green agenda, along with rendering needed support to the senior citizen population.

"We can move forward with an agenda to protect our seniors, green spaces or create a path of cronyism," he said.

He also blasted Brown's support of warehouses in the area.

Brown explained to the crowd he would continue forth with his agenda to protect the taxpayer. He emphasized in the past four budgets he did not have to ask for a taxpayer increase.

The candidates debated a plan by Brown to replace the current Northampton County Prison. Brown said the prison would be built without a tax increase.

The new prison, Brown said, is needed.

"I believe we can get it done," he said. "There is a tremendous value in moving forward with this. My plan is to do so without a tax increase."

McClure vehemently disagreed with Brown's prison plan.

"A $200 million prison without a tax increase, if anyone believes in that, you believe in free lunches," he said.

According to McClure, he would serve the county better based on his previous government experience serving on county council. 

"I was on the governing body of the county," he said.

He credited his ability to save Gracedale Nursing Home and trying to cut taxes six times.

"That's my record," he added.

Brown and McClure were further asked if they intend to increase taxes if elected.

"I do not anticipate a need to raise taxes," Brown said. "Everything doesn't require raising taxes."

"My record is trying to cut taxes six times," McClure added.

Near the end of the debate, Brown and McClure were asked to offer a favorable comment concerning their opponent.

"Mr. McClure has a wonderful facility for telling stories," Brown said. "On any topic he'll give you a nice bedtime story."

McClure, rather than directly attack Brown, provided him with some credit regarding Gracedale.

"Over his four years, he hasn't started to talk that he wants to sell Gracedale," McClure said. "I'm glad he has said he doesn't plan to do it."

Brown said he is running for reelection based on his experience currently as executive.

"We are making significant progress across the board, " he said.

McClure again concentrated on his desire to work on behalf of the seniors, children and preserve farmland.

"There is so much that needs to be done and it can be done in a hopeful way," he said. "This is why I'm running."


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