Bernie O’Hare sounds surprised that conservative Republican J.B. Reilly donated $1000 to Democratic Mayor of Easton Sal Panto, but I’m not. Reilly is a developer. He likes Sal Panto because under Panto’s administration, Easton is more pro-growth and pro-development than some other municipalities:
Speaking of Pawlowski, he gave Sal $1,000 last year. So did a lot of Pawlowski’s own crop of donors. NIZ developer J.B. Reilly, a conservative Republican, found it in his heart to give Sal $1,000. Robert Bennett of Bennett Toyota, located in Allentown, gave Panto $1,500. Alan Kessler, who is with the Duane Morris law firm, kicked in $2,500.
This is today’s reminder that the set of issues in the municipal issue space is different from the set of issues in the federal issue space. The issues around land use and development in particular tend to crack up the national party coalitions.
If you wanted to organize local political parties around the actual local issues, you’d have two coalitions:
In the anti-development coalition you’d have the Democrats who reflexively oppose new development for historic preservation reasons, or environmental reasons, or rich-guy-hating reasons, or anti-corporate chain reasons. And you’d have some Republicans who reflexively oppose new development for get-off-my-lawn reasons, or suburban tribalism reasons.
In the pro-development coalition, you’d have the Democrats like me who are pro-urban development for anti-sprawl reasons, or pro-agglomeration economy reasons, and for environmental protection/open space reasons. And you’d also have a bunch of Republicans who are pro-development because they support strong individual property rights, support economic growth, and take a live-and-let-live attitude toward other people’s business.
On Team NIMBY, you’d have politicians like Dennis Pearson and Bob Donchez and David DiGiacinto, and on Team Growth and Development you’d have politicians like Sal Panto, John Callahan, Percy Dougherty, Roger Ruggles and Ron Beitler.
If you ignore the nominal national party labels and view these local coalitions as the “real” parties, then it makes perfect sense for J.B. Reilly to cut Sal Panto a check.
I would like to see the local parties, and the Democratic Party in particular, make more of an effort to organize local politics around these divisions. You need to put together a coalition of labor + developers + real estate agents + environmentalists + open space NIMBYs to support an agenda for lots of new construction in the core cities, and no new construction on township cornfields. That’s the Growth Machine coalition. The real estate professionals and labor provide the fundraising, and labor and environmentalists provide the grassroots political machine.
In the last election you saw the LVAR do some mailers for Lehigh County Republicans + Geoff Brace, but it wasn’t clear what they were trying to get. I think my idea makes a lot more sense. There’s a common interest uniting a few of the different interests active in local politics – designating some areas where you’re allowed to build a whole lot of new construction. Putting together an informal party coalition to advocate for this interest would increase the likelihood of successful policy change.