Local Elected Leaders Respond to Controller Pinsley’s Remarks

ALLENTOWN, Jan. 11 – State Reps. Mike Schlossberg and Peter Schweyer, Lehigh County Executive Phillips Armstrong, Allentown Mayor Matt Tuerk, Allentown City Council President Cynthia Mota, Lehigh County Board of Commissioners Chair Geoff Brace and Allentown School Board President Nancy Wilt released the following statement today in response to recent testimony provided by Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley: 

“During recent testimony before the Legislative Redistricting Commission, while discussing the proposed Senate map, Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley said that the map, ‘creates one district that packs Allentown and Bethlehem into one super district. I hope Senator Costa will hold the line on that. We don’t need a ghetto.’

“When challenged about those comments by Representative Peter Schweyer on Twitter, the controller responded, ‘[PA Republicans] want to split Allentown to hurt our communities and rig the election. If you don’t understand this, maybe read up on Warsaw ghettos and political control.’

“We feel compelled to respond to these deeply offensive remarks. No one would be foolish enough to say that these cities each do not face major challenges. However, to refer to a district that would contain Allentown and Bethlehem as a 'ghetto' is deeply dismissive of the people who live in these neighborhoods, the business owners that are invested in these cities, and the people who work every day to make these cities better.

“To be clear: Words matter. The word ghetto stirs images and feelings which shows a complete lack of empathy or dignity. These words are beneath the dignity of an elected official. To then double down those remarks – and make comparisons to the Nazi government in Germany – is simply beyond the pale. To refer to communities in that potential district as ‘ghettos’ harms the reputation of the Lehigh Valley as a whole. To do so at a hearing with statewide leaders is embarrassing to our region.

“Dehumanizing and corrosive language like this is a poor representation of Lehigh County. It shows a lack of understanding about how government and community should work, and a lack of compassion for its residents. Controller Pinsley has declined to apologize for his remarks thus far. None of us are perfect, and we sincerely hope that the controller will take this opportunity to recognize his error and learn from it.”