Bensalem Councilman Bryan Allen has announced his candidacy for township mayor.
“I have fought as hard as I can for our community for eight years, but the position that I am in limits my ability to bring the reforms we so desperately need,” he said in a message to supporters Wednesday night. “I, like you, am frustrated.”
Allen is serving the second of two non-consecutive terms in council — the first from 2006 to 2009, and his current term, which started in 2013 and expires at the end of 2017. He is the lone Democrat on council.
Currently, he is chief of staff for state Rep. Tina Davis (D-141), and previously served as a legislative aide for former state Rep. Anthony Melo, who held the seat before Davis.
He is a graduate of Conwell-Egan High School and Bloomsburg University, a member of St. Ephrem’s Parish, the Bensalem Lions Club and a board member of TMA Bucks.
Allen cited a history of pushing back against “reckless overdevelopment and sprawl,” and wants to cut back on what he sees as unnecessary spending on “employee perks and overpriced lawyers.”
He said he voted against township budgets “that shortchanged homeowners,” and instead advocated for the original $300 per household rebate that used to exist during his first term. When he returned in 2013, that number had dropped to $100 per household, and was given out through borrowed funds.
“Township spending had exploded,” he said. “Despite more money than ever coming into township coffers, the 2017 budget shows millions in deficit spending. A recently passed bond puts Bensalem nearly $60 million in debt. The township is paying $5 million per year just in debt service. That is nearly half of your casino revenue.”
He spoke about his frustration with the earned income tax passed last year, and the lack of clear communication from the township and absence of public input in the process.
In his statement, he wondered whether the township’s current financial path can sustain parks and recreation facilities or stave off property tax hikes or police layoffs.
“I dread a future where public safety is compromised while our families and seniors are crippled financially,” he said. “We need fresh leadership in Bensalem. Leaders who will set a new course and meet these daunting challenges head on.”
Allen will be running against six-term Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo, who announced earlier this year that he is running for a seventh term. DiGirolamo, a Republican, has been mayor since 1994. His current term expires at the end of 2017.
DiGirolamo said he wants to continue the riverfront development and his fight against Philadelphia’s preemptive taxing power over suburban communities. He would also continue to make emergency services a priority in the township.
Allen said he respects DiGirolamo, and his decision to run “was not made out of some sort of malice towards him.”
“The great people of Bensalem deserve a choice,” Allen said. “This year, they will have one.”