Lehigh Valley

Martell resigns from Bethlehem City Council, likely successor named

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Democrat Grace Crampsie Smith is likely to be sworn in as Bethlehem City Council's newest member next month. Councilman Shawn Martell, also a Democrat, formally resigned his position during Tuesday night's council meeting.

The resignation is effective Aug. 19. Martell is moving to Washington, D.C., and announced earlier this year that he would not seek a second term on the legislative body.

Martell was praised by several of his colleagues and Mayor Robert Donchez, who said Martell served the residents of Bethlehem with "distinction and integrity." He added that Martell also displayed traits of "fairness and objectivity" when it came to law making.

President Adam Waldron said city law requires the council to appoint Martell's replacement within 30 days. Smith, he said, is the "easiest, most painless" option to satisfy the requirement.

Smith waged a successful candidacy earlier this year, garnering the support of the Democratic electorate for a two-year council seat previously held by Eric Evans. Evans resigned last year and is now the city's business administrator.

Smith, along with other Democratic nominees, will not face a Republican opponent in the general election. Given this, and barring a successful write-in campaign which is extremely unlikely according to Waldron, Smith would win the seat in November and take office in January. Appointing Smith to the position four months earlier makes sense, Waldron said.

Councilwomen Paige Van Wirt and Olga Negron concurred with Waldron, as did Councilmen J. William Reynolds and Michael Colon.

"The election has been decided," Colon said.

No action was taken Tuesday night, but Waldron said it is likely Smith will be sworn in during September's first council meeting.

In other news, Police Chief Mark DiLuzio said in a brief report to the council that an increased and new police presence at Musikfest has been implemented.

"Public safety has to be the number one priority," Donchez said.

DiLuzio said law enforcement is investigating potential threats. He did not elaborate on the matter, saying it could compromise the investigation.

The chief added that about "1 million people" visit Bethlehem during Musikfest. The city has a population of about 75,000 people.

Councilman Bryan Callahan was absent from Tuesday night's meeting.

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