I stopped by the Wilkes-Barre City Council forum at Gennetti's on Sunday organized by local blogger David Yonki of the LuLac Political Letter. I don't live in W-B and when I informed one of the candidates of that she just walked away from me. Oh well. From the press accounts I read I missed the highlights since I had to leave early and according to David, Tim Grier and Walter Griffith wowed the people in the audience.
My interest was District E since I grew up in the North End. The only Republican and long time neighbor, John Yencha, didn't show up. Nor did Frank Matello who I've known my whole life but haven't seen in years or Virgil Argenta, the leader in the sign wars. Charlotte Raup started off by saying W-B has to get rid of the drug dealers and crack down on the absentee slum lords. A sentiment repeated by almost every other candidate. Mike Merritt looked down at his speech and read it. And Ron Silkosky recited a long synopsis of the Robert Redford movie The Candidate but said something that caught my ear: "Hazleton's loss of illegal immigrants is Wilkes-Barre's gain." I'm not sure what he meant by that or even if he meant it to come out that way. I'm surprised nobody else picked up on it.
The one incumbent I heard defended the Mayor and council. Tony Thomas said the Governor has faith and gave an inventory of the streets that have paved. He then went on about the renovation of Coal Street Park and the widening of Coal St. We've been hearing about that for a long time.
My favorite of the event was District B candidate Ray Arellano. He told a love story. A long time resident of Arizona who married a local girl that brought him back to NEPA. He said he decided to retire here after numerous visits and fell in love with the place. He challenged people to get past nepotism, cronyism and do what's right.
The press write-ups were positive. I sat behind the CV reporter but didn't have a chance to chat and the TL guy was at the media table that David generously invited me to sit at but I digressed. I'm not a media guy, I'm a blogger.