At his first-ever campaign event in a bid for elected office, Mike Kuhn addressed the question that was on everyone’s mind: Why was it being held in a reception room of a funeral home?

“When you think about it, a funeral home is the perfect place for our event,” said Kuhn during comments he made to the crowd during his 10-minute speech at his campaign for commissioner kick-off last Thursday, Jan. 19. “We want to end that kind of negative politics in Lebanon County, and we want to put it to rest, to bury it. So what better place to start that than a funeral home.” 

The campaign event was held at Rothermel-Finkenbinder Funeral Home & Crematory in Palmyra.

That comment elicited some laughter and then thunderous applause from the otherwise attentive audience of about 100 people. After the applause, Kuhn responded by saying, “I was hoping that you would agree.”

About 100 people attended the campaign event for Mike Kuhn at Rothermel-Finkenbinder Funeral Home & Crematory in Palmyra on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. (James Mentzer)

Kuhn had noted just minutes earlier that his campaign would not be negative. “People are tired of the usual politics. They’re tired of the negative attacks. They’re tired of people tearing each other down just to get a vote. Are you?” That question led to a murmur of “yeahs” from around the room. 

Kuhn outlined many of the same reasons he is running for office when he was interviewed by LebTown last Tuesday, which was the day he officially announced his campaign for his first full term as a Lebanon County commissioner

Read More: Kuhn officially announces bid for first full term as county commissioner

Kuhn was appointed by the county’s Board of Judges on Feb. 18 to fill the remaining portion of Bill Ames’ term after the three-term commissioner passed away in December 2021 from complications due to COVID-19. Following Ames’ death, Kuhn was one of 24 individuals to apply for the vacant commissioner seat.

Kuhn told the crowd his desire to continue to be a community servant, and his love for the people of Lebanon County and his wife and three children are why he’s running. In recognizing his wife, Yvonne, and children Adam, Alex, and Amelia, Kuhn quipped that it was the only time in his life that he got “straight A’s,” which led to laughter from the crowd.

During his remarks, Kuhn noted that the role of county government is to protect, restore and improve the quality of life in Lebanon County. He added that fulfilling that mission statement comes with challenges.

“The cost of doing business is going up, which shouldn’t surprise any of you,” said Kuhn. “Every small business, organization and family is feeling those increased costs due to increased labor costs and general inflation. The county is not immune.”

Kuhn said inflation presents an additional challenge when you strive to pay the bills without increasing taxes on county taxpayers.

“My focus is to maintain the services we need in our community and work hard every day to identify opportunities to reduce those costs,” said Kuhn, “To look for new opportunities to work smarter and better.” 

Kuhn cited his track record of 28 years of service on the city’s school board, 40 years of community service, and 37 years as an employee at WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital as his experiences in working to control costs.

Prior to Kuhn’s remarks, Josie Ames, the widow of Commissioner Ames, introduced a who’s who of local elected Republican officials, including Sen. Chris Gebhard. She also recognized a representative from Rep. Russ Diamond’s office and several other local municipal and school board officials.

Josie Ames, wife of the late commissioner Bill Ames, speaks at a campaign event for Mike Kuhn on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. (James Mentzer)

Ames made some brief comments, which were laced with a wave of emotion. Excitement, at first, followed by her voice cracking when she mentioned her husband.

“I am so excited! What a crowd, and especially on this damp and rainy day…” said Josie. “I know that my husband Bill is looking down from heaven and he’s clapping, and, so, I am very pleased that everyone showed up. … I am so proud of Mike and his family and I don’t think we could have picked a better person to run in Bill’s place.”   

When he spoke, Kuhn referenced Bill and Josie as just two of more than 100 mentors that had provided guidance to him over the years on how to be a good community servant.

Scot Feeman, who will run Kuhn’s campaign, also served as emcee during the presentation. Feeman introduced Dale Wise, who led the Pledge of Allegiance, Steve Sable, who gave the invocation, and Rachel Moyer, who sang “God Bless America,” with many audience members singing along with her.  

Prior to the presentation, which lasted just over 20 minutes, the crowd chatted among themselves while Lee Moyer played a number of patriotic songs on the keyboards and Mike moved about the room greeting the guests.

Light refreshments, which included wraps, a variety of fruit, ice tea and lemonade and a vast selection of desserts, sat on an island bar for the guests who mingled and ate prior to the presentation.

A number of campaign signs were strategically placed around the room, small American flags draped with red, white and blue paper in the base of each vase were located in the center of each table, and a picture of the candidate was displayed on several television screens around the room. 

Campaign signs and small American flags were placed throughout the room. (James Mentzer)

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James Mentzer

James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; and Lancaster...

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