Former Allentown School Board president Jeff Glazier became the seventh member of Allentown City Council Wednesday night.
The 55-year-old Allentown native was selected from among eight candidates who were interviewed by council last week.
Glazier got the required four votes on the first written ballot cast by the six council members.
Voting for Glazier were Joseph Davis, Jeanette Eichenwald, Ray O’Connell and Peter Schweyer.
Council member Cynthia Mota voted for candidate Carmen Bell. Council president Julio Guridy voted for candidate Joseph Lewis.
When interviewing Glazier last week, Guridy criticized the Allentown School District under his leadership, both for an academic decline and rising property taxes.
After Guridy announced Glazier was chosen in the first round of voting, council members agreed by common consent to make it unanimous.
“I appreciate council’s confidence in selecting me for this open position,” said Glazier before being sworn in. “I like this city, it’s a good city. I look forward to being able to work with council to make it a better city.”
Glazier raised three sons in Allentown and his family has lived in the city for nearly 100 years. He presented himself to council as experienced both as a public official and a businessman. He is the third generation owner of Glazier’s Furniture in the city. He served 12 years on the school board, six of them as president.
Glazier said he chose not to run for re-election to the school board. “Knowing when to leave is not an easy thing to do,” he admitted. He “recharged his batteries” for 10 months after his school board term ended last December and said he now is ready to make a contribution to the city. When interviewed last week, he told council: “I have a long history of working hard to master the issues.”
O’Connell said he knows Glazier for many years and called him a well-respected member of the community. Glazier also served on Allentown Public Library’s board of directors for six years, four of them as vice president.
As a small business owner and also the school board’s finance committee co-chair for nine years, Glazier brings a strong financial background to council, said O’Connell.
When interviewed on Oct. 11, Glazier said council’s role in Allentown’s government can be summed up in three words: “It’s the budget, it’s the budget and it’s the budget.” He said that is where council can exercise its most effective oversight in running the city.
Glazier has a masters degree in public administration from Pennsylvania State University, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in labor studies.
Council met at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday specifically to vote on filling its vacancy.
Before the vote, Eichenwald, who was not at last week’s interviews, assured all eight candidates that she could make a responsible decision because she listened to recordings of all their interviews.
After being sworn in by City Clerk Michael Hanlon, Glazier immediately took the empty city at the dais when council’s regular meeting began at 7 p.m.
That meeting began with two surprises.
The first was that, rather than giving a traditional invocation, Eichenwald offered some advice and praise to Glazier. She said being a member of City Council is a great honor “for you represent the will, the desire and, really, the fate all of its citizens.” She added “118,000 men, women and children will be dependent upon your decisions as they are dependent upon all of our decisions.”
Saying she knows Glazier for years, Eichenwald told him: “I know you will guide us with wisdom, intelligence, compassion, generosity and graciousness.”
The second surprise was former council member Michael Schlossberg, whom Glazier is replacing on council, attended the meeting and congratulated Glazier.
Schlossberg said Glazier has 12 years of experience as an elected official, over a decade dealing with municipal finance, a lifetime of Allentown residency and is a multi-generational business owner. With those qualifications, said Schlossberg: “Few are better suited to face the challenges facing the city than yourself. Few in the city have more expertise, knowledge and integrity to deal with those decisions than you.”
Schlossberg said he is misses serving on council and misses his former colleagues on council. Guridy told Schlossberg it was an honor and a pleasure serving with him.
Schlossberg resigned from council on Sept. 5. He is unopposed in the November election to become the state representative for the 132nd Legislative District.
Schweyer thanked all eight candidates who applied for the vacant seat on council. He said it was “a great slate of candidates, some really impressive people. It’s a great city because we have amazing people who want to serve our government and our city.”