Only four of six candidates for three four-year seats and one two-year seat on Macungie Borough council attended the Nov. 3 candidates' forum sponsored by the Lehigh County League of Women Voters at the Macungie Institute.
Council president and veteran Guy Ramsey and newcomer Kim Scherr, a write-in candidate, did not attend.
Still, four council hopefuls answered voters' questions: Chris Becker, Debra Cope, Greg Hutchison and Linn Walker allowed about 50 residents a glimpse of their thought processes, what makes them tick and their plans for making the borough a better place to live.
All four clearly want Macungie to be "out of the papers," a reference to the ongoing turmoil between Mayor Rick Hoffman and the Macungie Police Department that plagues just about every council meeting.
They want integrity to be restored, they said, and for respect and harmony to return.
Hutchison mentioned the lawsuits that have been costing the borough tens of thousands of dollars as the reason officials are having a hard time balancing the 2012 budget.
"The judge has spoken," Hutchison said, "The mayor is the head of the police department. The chief must listen to the mayor. They don't have to like each other, but they have to respect each other."
While Lehigh County District Attorney is appealing the ruling that gives the mayor access to police records, Hutchison also did not mention that Hoffman filed an appeal of Judge Michele Varricchio's decision because he wants to be awarded more borough money to cover his court costs.
Hutchison also did not mention that the mayor has launched further legal proceedings into the possible illegal hiring of Police Chief Ed Harry.
Hutchison said he is up for doing what needs to be done to balance the 2012 budget, even if it means laying off borough workers.
"It may be for the good of the whole," he said.
Chris Becker has been serving on council for several months as council's chosen replacement for Linden Miller who resigned early in the year.
An estimator by trade, Becker made clear his skill in dealing and sticking to tough budget -- or any other kind of -- decisions.
Becker stated several times that his priorities include streets, water and sewer issues and police protection.
"Council's job is to tend to the purse strings," he said.
Debra Cope presented herself as a "clean slate."
She declined questions regarding the budget, the number of police officers need, the K-9 Unit, the sidewalk ordinance and the inter-relationships among council members and between council and other borough workers, saying she had too little information.
Her job as an account liaison means she knows how to communicate with people, she said.
"I can bring an element of customer service to council....I have no agenda, no alliances and I'm open-minded," she said.
Linn Walker joined the council race after the Primary Election in May.
He has lived in the borough since 1987, and said that Macungie is "going backwards."
"The budget is out of hand," he said, calling on a need for better priorities that will keep expenses down.
Walker believes there is no need for the Macungie Police Department to have a K-9 Unit, nor is there any need for more than four full-time police officers.
On at least two occasions throughout the forum Walker said that the borough solicitor's lack of knowledge was the reason the litigations, ergo the extreme legal expenses, exist.
He claims that his common sense and acute money-managing skills are what will make him a valued member of council.