Allentown City Councilmembers Ce-Ce Gurlach and Josh Siegel announce progressive mayoral campaigns

Written by on November 16, 2020

Allentown City Councilmembers Ce-Ce Gurlach and Josh Siegel announce progressive mayoral campaigns 

By Tyler Pratt

November 16, 2020

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Racial justice and policing were the focus of two announcements this weekend from two new candidates for Allentown’s future mayor. And the issues may set the tone for the Democratic-leaning city in next year’s race. 

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Allentown City Council Members Ce-Ce Gurlach and Josh Siegel captured attention this summer with their participation in Black Lives Matter protests. Both have been vocal in saying great inequities exist in Allentown.

Thirty-four-year-old Gurlach, who was once homeless, announced her bid for mayor Saturday afternoon. She says she is running to increase affordable housing in Allentown. Gurlach cited a lack of housing as the root of many problems young people in Allentown face.

“That translates into the school districts where you have transient rates where the kids are jumping around,” Gurlach said. “That translates into their performance. They don’t know where they are going to sleep at night. They don’t know when they are going to be evicted. They don’t know how much food they are going to eat.”

Gurlach stopped short of her previous calls to defund the police heard over the summer, but did say she wants to see more resources allocated to community programs. 

Josh Siegel announced his now second bid for mayor Sunday on his 27th birthday. He has continued to be vocal that Allentown should divest from what he calls a “bloated [police] department.”

“[Allentown] is in this moment of moral reckoning and I think as a city we need to be an example of what equity, justice and progress could look like for all,” Siegel said. “And I really want Allentown to be a laboratory for progressive policy – where we address police brutality and structural violence, we create educational opportunities and we create a new generation of homeowners.”

Both candidates are calling for more “uncomfortable conversations” in Allentown. Gurlach and Siegel have also both thrown their support behind local Black Lives Matter leader Justan Parker who is launching a bid for city council. 

Gurlach, a woman of color, also said Saturday that her run for mayor could be challenging.

“Allentown’s never had a mayor like me, and my background is not something we’ve had either,” Gurlach said. “I’m an outreach worker, a teacher and a protester.”

Siegel on Sunday said that COVID-19 may create challenges to any mayoral candidate in getting their messaging out over the next several months. But also the impacts of the virus are central to his campaign.  

“COVID has really laid bare all of the inequities in our society.” Siegel said.  “And going forward the biggest challenge is how do we deal with COVID, how do we recover from COVID.” 

Siegel and Gurlach join Matthew Tuerk in the Democratic primary race. Tuerk, an economic development professional, announced his run a few weeks ago.

Current Mayor Ray O’Connell, who’s also a Democrat, has not launched an official campaign yet.

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