5 candidates are running for 4 seats on the Laureldale Borough Council.


Five candidates are vying for four vacant seats on Laureldale Borough Council this fall.

Four incumbents, Democrats Janet Hess, Bethany Pursell, Heather Sustello and Christopher Correll face newcomer, Republican Andrea J. Harris

The borough council has a four-year mandate.

We asked candidates to answer two questions:

Question 1: Why do you think you are the right person for this job?

Question 2: What are the most important issues the school district is currently facing and how do you plan to solve them?

Heather Sustello, 36.

Party: Democrat

Background: I’m 36 and have lived in Laureldale Borough for over 10 years, grew up in Blandon and graduated from Fleetwood. I have two children who are both in the Muhlenberg school district and my fiance and I also own a small business in the Laureldale borough. I have currently been a member of Laureldale Borough Council since early 2020, as chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee.
I appreciate your consideration for re-election.

Answer 1: I believe I am the right fit for re-election to Laureldale Borough Council as I have a lot to contribute to the Borough as a resident of the Borough of Laureldale for over 10 years. My fiance and I also own a small business in the borough and I have two children in the school district. I am able to contribute my ideas and knowledge as a resident, small business owner and mother. I have a past experience of volunteering and organizing events for charities, which I have already used to plan and organize our recent Laureldale Borough Fall Festival and Sundaes in the Park. I am also able to provide ideas as a business owner to support large local businesses in the borough. I consider myself to be a good listener and problem solver too.

Answer 2: I don’t think the Borough of Laureldale is facing any issues right now other than the evolution of the COVID pandemic, which is affecting everywhere. We must continue to be vigilant now and in the near future. I think it’s important to support our residents and small businesses that have been affected by this pandemic and to start helping each other more. We need to start coming together more as a community and meeting our neighbors, local businesses and the police, all while doing so in a safe way.

Janet L. Hess, 69 years old.

Party: Democrat

Context: I grew up in the canton of Muhlenberg, resident of Laureldale 40 years and over, married, son, grandchildren. I graduated from Muhlenberg Township School District, Reading Area Community College, Kutztown University, and University of Alvernia.
I am a partially retired registered nurse and teacher. I am a volunteer American Heart Association, Red Cross
I worked with the committee in the planning and management of community events such as the Laureldale Fall Fest, community Christmas decorating contest.

Answer 1: I am willing and able to work for the people of Laureldale. I bring energy and a willingness to work with the community to keep Laureldale strong and prosperous for all residents as we slowly emerge from this pandemic.
I have been a board member for 5 years and have served on the Parks and Recreation Committee and the Finance Committee. As a committee member, I worked with the annual budget and made a small annual budget for the running of the Fall Fest.
I have gotten to know many residents, members of organizations and business owners in the community and have worked with them to promote all the good things Laureldale has to offer, especially the 2 great parks in the arrondissement.

Answer 2: The important issue that all municipalities have faced over the past 18 months and for the future is how to use our money in the best and most efficient way to keep Laureldale safe, healthy and welcoming. . I want us to spend reasonably knowing that the services may become more expensive in the future. I want to deliver the things our residents and staff need while being a good steward with their money and still allowing for growth.
There have been a lot of changes in our community and I want everyone to feel welcome and thrive here. We have increased our population a little and have welcomed many new members of the community. I would like our residents to settle here in Laureldale for a long time and be happy they made the decision to move here.

Bethany Pursell, 41.

Party: Democrat

Background: I grew up in a Catholic blue collar family residing in Berks County. I have been a resident of the borough for eight years and have sat on the borough council for six years.

I am the director of legal affairs for medium-sized local telecommunications. I have 20 years of experience in business / legal / government. I have a bachelor’s degree from DeSales University, a certificate in human resources from the University of Villanova, a certified SHRM professional and I am a notary public.

Answer 1: I take my professionalism, my ethical choices and my service to the community very seriously. I have lived in the borough for eight years, including six years on the borough council. In addition to working in a full-time professional position, I am raising children here in the community. Local elected officials must have the education, experience, knowledge, moral character and commitment to transparency necessary to serve residents. I bring all of these essentials to the table, as well as the understanding that our borough is an evolving place that needs a proactive people-centered agenda. I am committed to continuing to provide altruistic leadership to promote positive change for our residents.

Answer 2: The Borough of Laureldale is currently facing several significant challenges, including finding a better balance between the recent agenda of ultra-fiscal conservatism and public safety. Although we experienced a pandemic and tax revenues were unknown due to various factors, the borough is required to provide services to its citizens. Reductions or changes in police personnel should not be made to the detriment of the safety of our residents or because of poor staff management or personal agendas. I will continue to vote against any issue that endangers the safety of our community.
The second most important issue facing the borough is the lack of commitment from our citizens. Please attend the monthly meetings, let us know your concerns, voice your opinions and make time for committees if you can. Lack of public engagement results in public officials not being held accountable for their decisions. Citizen involvement further eradicates unqualified individuals, taking office in the first place, poor staff management and other valuable assets of the borough. I will continue to lend a qualified voice on all issues and promote the engagement of all our citizens.

Andrea Harris

Party: Republican

Harris did not respond to the questionnaire.

Christophe Correll

Party: Democrat

Correll did not respond to the questionnaire.


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