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Easton City Council interviews 2 for seat on council

By Joe McDonald, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 23 2013 11:07:14 PM CDT
EASTON, Pa. -

The two men interviewing for a temporary, five-month appointment to fill an opening on City Council Tuesday night traded compliments and shared many of the same views during their interviews with council, which votes tonight on who will get the job.

The vote will be between Jim Edinger, a recently retired  carpenter who had announced his candidacy for council before Michael Fleck announced he was leaving Easton for Allentown to focus on his campaign consulting business.

In summarizing his background, Edinger noted he has served on the city’s Zoning Hearing Board since 1993 and has been involved in many community events, including the building of the original Peace Candle erected during the winter holidays on Centre Square. Edinger said he has seen signs of improvements in the city’s high-density, low-income West Ward, particularly in the area of homeownership.

There have been problems with absentee landlords, he said, and when he was pressed by Mayor Sal Panto for possible solutions, Edinger said: “Look at ways of making these people more responsible.”

Asked by Panto what he sees as one of his strengths, Edinger said, “I’m able to seek consensus.”

Edinger, who described himself as a “practical problems solver,” was then confronted by Panto on what the mayor called “the elephant in the room,” namely Edinger’s candidacy for council.

Edinger said he did not believe his run for office has created a conflict or an issue.

“I sought this seat prior to it being vacated,” he said. “I love Easton. That’s why I stayed in the West Ward.”

Even the other candidate, Steve White, another West Ward resident who owns a book store on Second Street in downtown Easton, said he would endorse Edinger in the general election when the seat comes up for a vote in November.

“I think I’d vote for him,” White said. After listening to the answers Edinger gave during his interview, White warned council, “I’d say similar things myself.”

White said he applied for the spot on council not because he opposes Edinger, but because he did not want people to think the appointment was the result of “the political machine putting our man in.”

“This is not a job I need to live,” White told council.

In other action, City Administrator Glenn Stockman told council he had issued a “friendly reminder” of the city’s nose ordinance to ice cream vendors after receiving “numerous complaints,” particularly the ones concerning loud music and the repetitious and grating children’s piano note melodies. Panto, referring to his summer job as a youth driving an ice cream truck, recalled he rang a bell while driving around town to next stop but stopped the bell ringing when he was serving up scoops.

Councilman Jeff Warren said council has no intention of pulling the plug on ice cream trucks.

“By no means are we trying to push out ice cream trucks,” Warren said.

Harold Jerry Figueroa Sr., an Easton man who owns ice cream trucks, told council he doubts there are  more than three people who complain about the trucks and those complaints are usually aimed at sub-par ice cream trucks that pass through town for a year and disappear. He said he is mindful of the noise and keeps it to a minimum.