The 183rd state house district includes parts of Lehigh and Northampton Counties. In Lehigh County, parts of South Whitehall, Washington and Whitehall townships, and Slatington borough are in the 183rd. In Northampton county, Allen and Lehigh townships and the boroughs of North Catasauqua, Northampton and Walnutport. Since 1994 the district has been represented by Republican Julie Harhart. She voted against the pay raise and did not take the unvouchered expenses.
Her opponent in this year's election is Democrat Russ Shade. The bio from his web site is as follows:
Russ Shade was born in Reading, PA in 1949 and, except for 1975-1979, has resided in eastern PA for all of his life. He graduated from Schuylkill Valley High School in Leesport, PA in 1967 and Albright College in Reading, PA in 1971 with a degree in English.
He taught secondary English in the Northwestern Lehigh School District from 1971-1974. In 1975 he moved to Rochester, New York to accept a position with Otetiana Council, Boy Scouts of America where he rose rapidly from the position of Assistant District Executive to District Executive, then Exploring Executive. In these positions he was responsible for community organizing, volunteer recruitment and management, and program development/delivery. In 1977, he was a camp director for the Council's summer camp program at Massawepie Scout Camps in Tupper Lake, NY and served as Assistant Reservation Director of the 3,000 acre, four-camp reservation in 1978.
In 1979, Russ returned to Pennsylvania and settled in Danielsville, Northampton County. For the next 11 years he worked for several employers in the industrial distribution field including Martin Sprocket & Gear. After the deaths of his parents in the mid-90's, Russ shifted gears yet again, this time combining his growing interest in computers with his writing ability. Over the next seven years he worked primarily in five corporate sectors - financial, wholesale distribution, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and computer software - organizing highly technical information into manuals that enabled the companies' clients to maximize their software investments. Once he had built up a broad portfolio, he struck out on his own as an independant technical writing consultant.
In 1999 when he found it difficult to obtain accurate information about a genus of parrots, Russ went to the scientific literature which he found to be as lacking as the avicultural literature. After raising some money, he flew to Ecuador and located several large flocks of these parrots in Mindo, a tiny community high in the Andean cloudforest outside of Quito.
He joined with like-minded aviculturists and formed the Pionus Parrots Research Foundation in late 1999 to raise money and conduct joint avicultural/scientific research into the genus. After 6 more visits to Mindo with field ornithologists, graduate students, and aviculturists, he wrote a book about the genus, The Practical Pionus: Pet Pionus Parrots, considered by many aviculturists to be the best book ever written about the genus. Russ sits on the executive board of the Pionus Breeders Association and is also the Managing Director of the Pionus Parrots Research Foundation. He frequently presents lectures to avicultural associations in the US and Canada.
Northampton County politics captured his attention early in 2005. Disturbed by what he observed in the operation of the Executive Branch and County Council, he began searching Internet political boards for more information about effective ways to reform county government. One morning he responded to a post in which John Stoffa expressed his desire to run for the county executive seat. After a brief email exchange, the two men met in person; within 2 weeks Stoffa's campaign was up and running. Despite being seriously underfunded and in spite of both Russ' and John's lack of political experience, Democratic voters responded favorably to the issues-oriented positive campaign and chose Stoffa in the primary as their candidate over incumbent Glenn Reibman. Stoffa went on to be elected County Executive in November, 2005. During the summer of 2005, Russ and John worked with party leadership and council candidates to share ideas for the council races. As a result, two additional Democrats, Diane Neiper and Charles Dertinger, displaced incumbent Republican candidates in the general election and returned the Democratic Party to a majority on Council.