Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Government

The city of Bethlehem located in eastern Pennsylvania is one of the many cities within the Lehigh Valley region of the state. It lies in the Lehigh and Northampton counties. With a population of a little over 74,000, it shares its borders with other Lehigh Valley cities of Allentown and Easton.

Map of BethlehemBethlehem’s government, just like other cities in the U.S., is composed of a mayor and a city council with seven persons sitting as councilmen. The incumbent mayor is Robert Donchez, who was recently elected and sworn on January 6, 2014. The previous mayor was John B. Callahan, who actually served for two terms. Bethlehem can rightfully be called as a Democrat city because the most recent election showed a Democrat winning the highest office in the city for the tenth consecutive time.

The Mayor

The position “mayor” of Bethlehem was officially created in 1917 as a result of the merger of Borough of Bethlehem and South Bethlehem, thereby creating the city of Bethlehem, PA. The very first mayor who served for four years was Archibald Johnston. He started his term in 1918 and finished it in 1922. As a Republican, Mayor Johnston was considered as the most active in all of Bethlehem’s history. He was involved in primarily every aspect of life in the newly created city. As a matter of fact, he also served as the Vice President of the city’s pride – Bethlehem Steel. It was also during his term when the Liberty High School was established. The Hotel Bethlehem was also unveiled.

Former Mayor Callahan is an advocate and member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition. The group is referred to as a bi-partisan group with a goal of “making the public safer by getting illegal guns off the streets.” The same coalition is headed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mayor Thomas Menino of Boston.

Administration and Other Departments

While the Administration Department is responsible for providing organizational, operational, and administrative leadership, there are also other departments involved, including but not limited to Community and Economic Development, Construction and Permitting, EMS, Fire, Health, Police, and Public Works.

The City Council

The City Council meanwhile is the legislative branch of government of the city. It is a body composed of seven members who are likewise elected to serve four-year terms. The council seats are determined through city elections and they exists no districted council positions. The current members of the city council are Bryan G. Callahan, Eric R. Evans, Michael D. Recchiuti, Cathy Reuscher, J. William Reynolds, Louis N. Stellato, and Adam R. Waldron.

In terms of federal government relations, Bethlehem is officially a part of the 15th congressional district of the State of Pennsylvania. Therefore, the city is represented by Republican Charlie Dent.

With the local police and government’s coordination, Bethlehem has always maintained a lower crime rate compared to that of the nearby cities of Allentown and Easton. The crime index of Allentown is at 510.4 while Easton has 379.2. Bethlehem, Pa for its part has an overall crime index of 244.4, which is significantly lower even when compared to the U.S. average of 320.9.