With the countdown underway to the General Election on Tuesday, November 8, I sent an email about a week ago to Tredyffrin Township supervisor candidates and to school board candidates for the Tredyffrin Easttown School District. My email to the candidates was simple; it contained a 3-part question asking the candidates to respond in 200 words or less to the following:
(1) In your opinion, what is the single most important issue facing Tredyffrin Township (or Tredyffrin Easttown School District)
(2) If you were elected, what would you do to help solve or improve this issue?
(3) Tredyffrin Township (or Tredyffrin Easttown School Board) needs problem-solvers; what in your background or job experience qualifies you to help solve this important issue?
In addition to posting their responses to the 3-part question, I offered to include the candidate’s resumes on Community Matters, as I did prior to May’s Primary Election. Believing that it is important for voters to make an informed decision on which candidate they elect to serve us, I saw no downside to the candidates participation in May nor did I at this time.
Much to my surprise, the individual Tredyffrin Republican supervisor and school board candidates declined my offer, suggesting that voters could visit their websites for information and that, “We are more than happy to answer questions from individual voters across Tredyffrin – and are doing so while going door-to-door, attending community events, and more.”
Although my email offer was sent directly to the individual candidates, it was the chair of Tredyffrin Township’s Democratic Party, Dariel Jamieson that responded on behalf of the Democrat supervisor and school board candidates. Dariel’s email on behalf of the candidates, likewise declined the offer to participate but the decision was for a different reason,
“Our BOS and School Board candidates prefer not to submit answers to the questions you posed to them until after the LWV [League of Women Voter] debates. The questions were all ones that were asked in the debates two years ago – as they should have been, they are key questions – but to have our answers published first is not fair to the LWV and makes the job of our candidates harder to distinguish themselves in the debates.
Dariel also suggested that voters could visit the website of the candidates. She apparently does not want the Democratic supervisor and school board candidates to ‘show their cards’ in advance of the debates next week.
I’d be more likely to buy that explanation were it not for a lengthy editorial written by Democrat at-large supervisor candidate Murph Wysocki that appeared in last week’s edition of the Main Line Suburban newspaper, Main Line Media News online and TE Patch online. His editorial describes his background and skill set and what he views are the important issues facing the township; in essence, answering the 3-part question that I posed. This week I see that Democrat supervisor candidates Molly Duffy and Tory Snyder have a joint letter to the editor in the paper in the Main Line Media News. In other words, Dariel’s logic of not wanting to ‘let the cat out of the bag‘ pre-debate is lost on me.
To be fair, I do not know if the Democrat candidates weighed in on this decision or not. In the case of the Republicans, their email was signed by the candidates. As full disclosure, Dariel did offer that the candidates could answer my 3-part question after the debate. I believed that this was a win-win opportunity for candidates (and more importantly, the voters) to respond.
My sole purpose in sending the request to the supervisor and school board candidates was to offer voters an additional resource to ‘know the candidates’ before Election Day — believing that the more informed the voter, the better choice he or she will make. I also saw this as one more opportunity for voters to review the resumes of the candidates before voting.
I want to see our community elect independent-thinking problem solvers and viewed that this exercise could encourage voter turnout on Election Day!
You notice that I talk about the Tredyffrin school board candidates; not the Easttown school board candidates. Easttown resident and TE School Board encumbent Pete Motel (R) is being challenged by Easttown resident Craig Lewis (D).
Because our school district is made of school board members from Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships, I had sent Motel and Lewis the same email with the 3-part question. Motel and Lewis were appreciative of my offer to help inform the voters and have chosen to participate. For the record, Motel and Lewis will also be participating in next week’s school board debates alongside the Tredyffrin school board candidates.
When I sent my emails to the supervisor and school board candidates, I stated I would post their responses in the order they were returned. Therefore, Pete Motel’s response is first, followed by Craig Lewis’ response. Their resumes follow their responses. Although I cannot vote for either Motel or Lewis for school board, I thank them for their participation and understanding the importance of informing voters on the candidates.
The biggest challenge facing the T/E School District is maintaining the quality of education it delivers during the current economic downturn.
District revenue is down by millions of dollars primarily due to two reasons:
1) Property tax assessment appeals resulting in decreased real estate tax collection;
2) Decreased home sales resulting in decreased real estate transfer tax. This is coupled with steep increases in the state required contribution to the state pension system – now millions above the contribution required last year.
Great efforts have been made by the Board to balance the District’s budgets without significantly effecting educational opportunities. The Board has implemented cost containment through administrative salary freezes, implementation of self-insured health insurance and more efficient scheduling of staff time.
With the economic recovery projected to take another several years, T/E Boards need to continue to cut expenses without reducing core educational programs. Success will require detailed knowledge of District operations and proven leadership skills.
My experience on the T/E Board as Committee Chairs and past Board president, coupled with my professional experience as a small business owner, demonstrate that I have the proven skills to help guide the District through the next few years of difficult budgets.
TE’s biggest issue is irresponsible budgeting.
- My opponent, republican Dr. Motel, has mandated 5 study halls per week in Conestoga High (12% instruction reduction) AND a 20% increase in students per teacher. TE was the 4th best high school in Pennsylvania. Losing this rank will result in a 10% home price decline, reduced college acceptance, scholarships and earning potential.
- My opponent diverted education money to purchase, tear-down and build non-educational facilities wasting millions of dollars.
TE’s projection shows out-of-control budget shortfalls. Starting with the current year they are:
My fiscally conservative priorities to prevent this catastrophe are:
Stop wasteful spending
- Halt all construction and real-estate acquisitions.
- The teacher pay was cut and workload increased 20%. Aggressive cost reduction has to look at all other areas.
- Halt no-bid contracting
Preserve our premier school ranking
- Repeal the 5 study-hall mandate.
- Respect our staff; balance their workloads.
- Initiate summer enrichment programs for profit.
Retirees deserve school tax relief – My opponent never did this, I will.
I have twenty years of experience in setting goals, developing strategies, creating and managing budgets, both departmental and enterprise wide. This required creative approaches, engaging individuals from different departments to drive successful outcomes.