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Lower Nazareth auditor who moved to Easton to resign next month following legal action

Jake Towne says he will resign as Lower Nazareth Township auditor next month after a change of residence prompted township officials to take legal action to remove him.On Monday, Towne said he will resign from the elected position effective July 4 to “avoid any further spending of taxpayer funds to remove me from office via a quo warranto court action.”In Pennsylvania, quo warranto petitions are the only way to challenge a public official’s right to hold office. The petition basically questions whether someone is legally holding office.Last month, with the support of Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli, township officials filed a lawsuit called a “quo warranto petition” that asks a judge to remove Towne because he moved to Easton in March.Citing Pennsylvania’s second-class township code, Lower Nazareth officials said Towne is no longer entitled to be an elected official in Lower Nazareth since he moved.As of Monday afternoon, Township Manager Lori Stauffer said she had yet to hear from Towne that he would be resigning.“I think that the township has appreciated his service, and he certainly did a good job while he was here, however, the second class township code requires the position be held by a resident,” she said.Stauffer referred questions about the cost of filing the quo warranto petition to Township Attorney Gary Asteak, who wasn’t immediately available Monday afternoon.“Obviously, the longer litigation proceeds, the more expensive it becomes, so by him resigning it certainly is saving taxpayer money,” she said.It will be up to the township’s Board of Supervisors to appoint a replacement, Stauffer said. That person would serve until the next municipal election.Towne disagreed with the township’s interpretation of the township code, and believes he’s only required to have lived in Lower Nazareth for one year prior to being elected.He said he moved to Easton’s College Hill after “falling in love” with an older home there. Towne said his job is also only a couple miles from the new house.He told The Morning Call last month that he wanted to finish out the remainder of his six-year term as auditor because he still had a vested interest in Lower Nazareth, as a former longtime resident with many friends and family still living there.Towne also said he views himself as a “fiscal watchdog” and filed multiple Right-to-Know requests for documents that he posts on his website.Towne believes he shouldn’t have to file a Right-to-Know request and should be entitled to the documents as an elected auditor.The chair of Northampton County’s Libertarian Party, Towne was elected to the position in November 2017.He’s run other notable but unsuccessful campaigns as an independent candidate. In 2010 he ran for U.S. Congress, and in November 2018, he ran to represent the 138th District in the Pennsylvania House.
Source: Morningcall

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