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Cusick Re-Elected Northampton County Council President After Initial Deadlock

Republican majority chooses Northampton County Councilman John Cusick as president for another year.

Reorganization doesn't seem to be simple, at least where Council is concerned.

Last year, Council President Ron Angle after his fellow Republicans instead backed Councilman John Cusick.

This year, Cusick kept his seat, but only after a challenge from council's Democrats on council that ended with a tie vote, causing council to put the meeting on hold until member Bruce Gilbert arrived to break the tie.

Councilwoman Peg Ferraro -- who was re-elected Vice President without challenge -- nominated Cusick. 

Councilman Lamont McClure, a Democrat, was also nominated as president. The resulting 4-4 vote meant that council effectively had no president, and thus the meeting was put on hold until Gilbert arrived.

But despite that split down party lines, both Cusick and Ferraro said they hoped for a year where partisan politics wouldn't affect the business of council.

"The most important thing to remember: Now that you're elected, the Ds and the Rs disappear behind our names," Ferraro told the three new council members, all of whom are Democrats. "The job becomes good government."

She also hoped that the new council could bring about "a new era of civility and respect for the benefit of taxpayers."

McClure told Cusick he looked forward to working with him to move the county forward. 

"When you're wrong," he added, "I look forward to making sure you don't move us backwards."

Joining council this year are Bob Werner of Easton, Scott Parsons of Wind Gap and Ken Kraft of Bethlehem.

Parsons and Werner were , unseating longtime Republican council members Angle and Mike Dowd. Kraft took the seat left vacant by the retirement of Councilwoman Ann McHale after winning a victory against Republican challenger Seth Vaughn.

They'll have to tackle several major projects this year. Cusick said he wants to deal with refinancing the county's $111 million bond, figure out the question of building a treatment center in West Easton, and set up an advisory panel for the nursing home.

There's also the issue of consolidating the county's human services agencies into one building. County Executive John Stoffa has said he wants to move human services workers out of the and the Bechtel building in Bethlehem and into a single location.

Cusick said there's two ways the county could move on this: either another location in Easton, or somewhere more centrally located, like the Nazareth area.

He said he's leaning toward Easton, but only the county can deal with the question of parking.

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