Melody Frey said her professional background is in financial analysis and institutional investing on Wall Street.
Frey brought back some memories when she said her father worked at Bethlehem Steel and her family would schedule any errands around steel traffic patterns, particularly shift changes "because traffic was so heavy."
Frey said she was positive Bethlehem would become a ghost town when Bethlehem Steel went out of business, but instead it has experienced "an amazing rebirth." She said the key to the city's success has been diversification of industry. "That diversification has been the saving grace of this city," she said. "Cities around the country are looking at us to see what we've accomplished."
Her priorities on council will include increasing revenues while controlling costs and spending. "We also need to find a way to expand the Sands [Casino] revenue for tax stabilization." She said there also is an increased need for public safety. "While I truly feel safe walking the streets, we must maintain our vigilance."
Heckman, a Northampton County Council member for more than eight years, indicated he is an advocate of open government and fiscal transparency. "I never voted for a property tax increase, although I never closed my mind to the possibility," said Heckman.
Heckman said numerous Bethlehem residents live on fixed incomes, while others are stretching their incomes to try to keep pace with rising costs.
"Based on current demographics, residents aged 50 and over make up almost half of our city's population, with those 65 and over making up over 25 percent of all residents," said Heckman. "I understand these struggles and want to give voice to the need for balancing quality services with fiscally responsible government that recognizes the cumulative impact of local taxes and fees on family budgets."
Heckman also has served on the city's redevelopment authority for 10
years and was director of the Northampton County Department of
Humans Services for eight years.
Melnick, a small business advisor, said he worked on many major development projects in the city, including getting Hotel Bethlehem out of bankruptcy and back into operation.
Melnick supports investigating going to a ward system to elect council members in the city. "That way residents of all corners of our community can elect qualified candidates from their own neighborhoods."
"Individual council people don't often get enough information," said Melnick. "I know what questions to ask. I know how to get things done. I would make an ideal addition to council and together we would become a formidable body."
Thomas Miller admitted to council that he is a complete outsider. "I
am not a political person, I never ran for anything. I'm a registered Democrat who votes in every election. I don't have any political connections in the city or in this room tonight. But there are some experiences of value I can bring to the City Council."
Miller said he retired early as a senior vice president of Bankers Trust Company, now Deutsche Bank, which was the sixth largest bank in the United States. He managed a department that financed commodities throughout the world. He said he has analyzed thousands of financial plans and budgets. "I can bring that expertise to the city."
Miller said he retired early because "banking was going into the sewers at that time. When my CEO one morning suggested I leave my morals at the door when I came to work, I headed for the door."
Miller also touched on the age issue, saying "I see a rather youngish council in front of me, in the 30s and 40s. And yet 20 percent of the population of our city is over 65 years of age."
Cathy Reuscher said she decided to apply for City Council when she realized it has no representatives from the south side of the city. "I do firmly believe both sides of the Lehigh River should be represented in the city," said Reuscher, who lives on Brighton Street.
"I love that while our city is firmly rooted in history, it is successfully growing into the future," said Reuscher, who called herself a community organizer. She said she is an advocate for better environmental planning.
Reuscher stressed the need for a downtown grocery store that is within walking distance of residents.
Lynn Fryman Rothman offered council both leadership skill and environmental expertise.
She is congregation president at Temple Beth El in Allentown, responsible for both finances and fund raising.
She also is a former environmental scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency and a project manager with the Army Corps of Engineers.
She said she often appeared before citizens at town meetings when working for the federal government. As president of the synagogue, she said some of her duties are similar to those of City Council, including approving the budget, appointing people to committees and acting on concerns of constituents.
Sanders, vice chairman of the Bethlehem Housing Authority, said everybody on City Council knows who he is.
Declaring "I'm going to make this easy," he argued only two people in the room --- "Mr. Melnick and myself" - are most qualified to serve on council because they both unsuccessfully ran to be elected to council.. He said the other 11 candidates have not put in their time campaigning. He said more than 2,000 people voted for him and Melnick.
While council is only filling on vacancy, Sanders asked that both of them be given the opportunity to serve on council.