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Third Democrat nominee too close to call in crowded South Whitehall commissioners race

The crowded race for the South Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners was whittled down after Tuesday’s primary, though the third nominee in the Democratic field remained too close to call.Four Democrats ran for the three available seats. Five Republicans vied for the three seats on that side. The six winners will face off in the November general election. The Democratic race was extremely tight. As of 11 p.m., with 62% of the unofficial vote tallied, Matthew Mobilio led the field with 28% of the votes, followed by Joe Setton with 26%. The remaining two candidates Thomas J. Johns and Keisha Champagnie continued to swap positions , separated at one point by as little as four votes.Diane Kelly had a comfortable lead on the Republican ticket with 32% of the votes, followed by Michael Wolk with 23% and Tom Utsch with 20%. Matthew Mulqueen, the only incumbent who ran for re-election this year, garnered 14% of the vote.The race was largely focused on development and growth in South Whitehall – motivated largely by the Ridge Farms project off Walbert Avenue. That 661-unit residential project from Kay Builders brought out droves of residents who opposed the plan. PennDOT is finishing a traffic study for the project to recommend improvements before the project goes before the township planning commission once more.With a new comprehensive plan on the horizon for South Whitehall, many candidates campaigned on finding ways to promote smart growth in the township that would prevent rampant development.Candidates also were interested in finding new ways to make township business more transparent and provide greater voices for residents — whether through referendums, surveys or more accessible meetings.Candidates have also pledged to take a harder look at township budgets and spending. South Whitehall avoided tax increases for decades, but this eventually resulted in a massive 36% property tax hike in 2015, following by another 11% in 2016.Morning Call reporter Sarah M. Wojcik can be reached at 610-778-2283 or swojcik@mcall.com.
Source: Morningcall

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