Lehigh Valley

O'Connell announces plans for Allentown if elected

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Now less than a month from election day, the race for Allentown's top position is picking up steam.

Five candidates are running campaigns for mayor, including incumbent Ed Pawlowski.

69 News is sitting down with each of the candidates this week to discuss their visions and priorities if elected Nov. 7.

On Monday, write-in candidate Ray O' Connell hosted a news conference to lay out some of his ideas.

O'Connell, Allentown's current city council president, launched a write-in campaign after losing to Pawlowski in the May primary.

While much of O'Connell's campaign included promises of transparency in light of the FBI investigation that resulted in an indictment against Pawlowski, O'Connell said policy changes are needed too.

The former Allentown educator said his first priority will be public safety.

"The perception and reality of crime in our city is an issue and we need to tackle it head on," O'Connell said.

In the first 100 days, O'Connell said he would fill vacant positions in public safety.

"The first action I will take is to fill the vacancies we currently have and hire new police officers, paramedics and firefighters. We have almost 20 vacant positions in the police department, fire department, and paramedics," O'Connell announced.

O'Connell said he'd also like to bump up the number of police positions to 230.

In his first day in office, O'Connell's other main focus would be blight, he announced Monday.

"We have hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of blighted properties," O'Connell said.  "Our rental inspection processes need to be streamlined and made efficient. As mayor I will enforce all rules and regulations, regardless of who owns the property."

The key in fixing that issue, O'Connell said, is filling the 120 currently vacant positions in the city.

According to O'Connell, those positions were budgeted for, but haven't been filled. On Monday, O'Connell said those positions are budgeted for $1.7 million.

"You can't move the city forward if you don't fill those positions," he said. 

O'Connell also mentioned wanting to add more youth programs. Another goal includes partnering with the Allentown School District to offer resources to students beyond school hours with potential help from city money.

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