Adam Waldron’s Petition Error and Party Cartels

Adam Waldron is one of my top favorites for Bethlehem City Council, but his petitions might be in trouble since apparently he overlooked the requirement that he include a circulator affidavit.

As a supporter I hope none of the other candidates challenge his petitions, but this being politics, obviously nobody’s going to pass up an easy opportunity to reduce the number of their competitors.

It’s a good illustration of the party cartel system in action. Local level political parties have specialized insider knowledge that people who want to run for office may not have. They know how to get you on the ballot, they know how to get you volunteers, they know how to get you donations.

Technically you can do all this stuff from scratch, but it’s easier and safer to tap the party’s expertise so that you don’t accidentally screw up any technicalities and leave yourself open to petition challenges. These barriers to entry give political parties a certain amount of control over who represents the party on the ballot.

If I have a complaint about this it’s that many party cartels – LV Democrats in particular – don’t use their control over campaign resources to enforce any particular ideological agenda for local government. If I were a party boss, I’d do it Wayne Woodman’s way and tie campaign support to specific issue positions.


  1. In general, local election boards should have a default to allow participation in democratic government and should exist to openly facilitate participation. Advice and preliminary rulings could be published on a county blog for all to see and benefit from. Doing an after the fact ruling, as in this case or in the case of the Allentown water petition, shouldn’t be the norm. I find it absurd in the latter case that a local official could see a story in the local news and not at least give a preliminary warning to allow citizen non-experts to participate in what the law allows.

  2. Jon it’s there for a legitimate purpose – to prevent petition fraud. Unfortunately both parties have long histories of fraud, necessitating this kind of check. So this isn’t a cartel issue.

    I’d support a review process but not elimination of the regulation.

    I feel bad for him, his background (built a business, got a real college degree, worked his way through school, isn’t a leach, etc.) would be a good one to have on council.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      I’m not saying it’s bad. I like that parties act as a gatekeeper, but I wish they had a better sense of their own role in aggregating policy positions.

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