Lehigh Valley

Allentown mayoral candidate Cheryl Johnson Watts says city's fiscal situation would be priority

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Voters in Allentown will cast their ballots next week in the race to fill the remainder of former Mayor Ed Pawlowski's term.

69 News has interviewed each candidate - four Democrats and one Republican - on the ballot for next week's primary. We will be profiling one candidate each day this week.

WFMZ's Jamie Stover interviewed with Democrat Cheryl Johnson Watts.

FULL INTERVIEW

Watts is the only woman running for mayor, and doesn't consider herself a politician. 

"I consider myself more a person looking for results," she said.

Watts grew up in Queens, New York, and graduated from Princeton University with a degree in romance language.

She's had several jobs: producer, executive assistant, special events manager. Most recently, she held a role dealing with public pensions, foundations, and endowments for an investment company.

"That's when I learned a lot about municipal finances as well as public pension investment," she said.

Her concern with city hall's finances is how it ended up with a 27 percent property tax increase after years with no hikes at all. 

"My No. 1 priority is understanding where we are fiscally," Watts said.

In 2017 she was elected to the Allentown School Board. 

She lives in the west end and says city residents want to see the entire city be a priority.

"They feel they have been left behind in terms of the focus of the city, a lot of attention has been concentrated only in city center and not enough on where they live," Watts said.

She says the city can tackle the absentee landlord issue.

"Stronger communication, communication with them on ongoing basis about status of their property and what's expected of them," Watts said.

The primary is next Tuesday.


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