September 23, 2023 | Morning Call, The: Web Edition Articles (Allentown, PA)
| Section: OpinionWho do you call when you see someone sleeping in the hallway of your building? What number do you dial to get a counselor to intervene in a mental health crisis? Currently, there is not anyone to call for help instead of handcuffs.
Allentown had an opportunity to start a mobile community response team consisting of mental health experts to handle nonviolent calls, such as mental health, homelessness and addiction. However, the Lehigh County Board of Elections killed the proposal before our community had a chance to vote on it.
After neighbors delivered nearly 4,000 signatures to establish an MCRT via ballot referendum this fall, our county board of elections unilaterally and without reason failed to put the question up for a vote. Their decision — and ability to eliminate an opportunity to increase mental health services in Allentown through a ballot referendum — is anti-democratic. This three-person unelected board (none of whom live in Allentown) delivered a huge slap in the face to Allentown voters.