Contested Primary on April 28: Five Candidates (3 D’s & 2 R’s) on Ballot for Sen. Andy Dinniman’s Seat in 19th Senate District

Democratic State Senator Andy Dinniman is not seeking re-election, announcing his retirement a couple of weeks ago. The Senator has represented Chester County’s 19th Senate District since 2006 and we learned that he has endorsed Don Vymazal (D), his governmental relations advisor to succeed him.

Following the news of Sen Dinniman’s retirement on February 7, and subsequent endorsement of Vymazal, two other democrats added their names to the list of candidates seeking the position  … Rep. Carolyn Comitta, former two-term West Chester mayor and currently serving state representative of the 156th District and Kyle Boyer, a first-term member of the T/E School Board and chair of its Policy Committee. Whereas Vymazal received the endorsement of Sen. Dinniman for his seat, Rep. Comitta (D-156) received the endorsement of Gov. Wolf for the position.

At the Chester County Democratic Committee held a couple of weeks ago, Don Vymazal garnered the most votes and received the party’s endorsement.  The endorsement process requires a 65% threshold and voting was as followed:

First Ballot:
Carolyn Comitta – 25%
Kyle Boyer – 27 %
Don Vymazal – 47%
(Rep. Comitta Eliminated)

Second Ballot:
Kyle Boyer – 36 %
Don Vymazal – 63 %

Final Ballot:
Kyle Boyer – 31%
Don Vymazal — 69%

Once Chester County Democratic Committee make their endorsements, often times the other candidates will drop out of the race before the primary election. But not this time; both Boyer and Rep. Comitta are staying in the race for Chester County’s 19th Senate District and will appear on the April 28 primary ballot.

It should be noted that  incumbent Rep. Comitta (D-156) did receive Chester County Democratic Committee’s endorsement for state representative. My assumption is that should Comitta win the primary election as her party’s choice in both the senatorial race and the state representative race, she would need to make a choice.  I am not completely certain about how the process works, but presumably Rep. Comitta cannot be listed as a candidate for both races in the November general election.

After nearly thirty years in public office, replacing Sen. Dinniman is no easy task.  And given the number of important issues facing Chester County – education, pipelines, environment and land development, etc. – where  Sen. Dinniman has been front and center for the community, the selection of his replacement is all the more important.

For instance, as minority chair of PA State Education Committee, Sen. Dinniman has led various initiatives to ensure quality education programs and reduce the cost of education. Although he has championed many causes during his tenure as an elected official, advocating for our children and their education has remained a high priority.

As most of us know, T/E School District has recently received massive national (and international) attention regarding its policy decision that involved the police in the recent threat assessment of a kindergartner with Down Syndrome.  As soon as the matter surfaced, Sen. Dinniman weighed in with a lengthy letter to the T/E School Board, questioning how the threat policy is being carried out. Although his statement is now widely shared, the reading of the letter by an audience member was not permitted at the last Policy Committee meeting. (Click here to read Sen. Dinniman’s letter).

T/E School Board director and chair of its Policy Committee Kyle Boyer is a candidate for Dinniman’s senate seat. Should the school district’s threat assessment policy and the police involvement in the handling of the 6-year old with Down Syndrome impact Boyer’s chances in the primary election? For the record, T/E School District Policy 5401 Student Discipline remains under review by the school board.

In addition to the three democrats on the ballot for the contested 19th Senate District seat held by retiring Sen. Andy Dinniman are two republicans. Republicans Kevin Runey and Amber Little-Turner also filed petitions to run in the 19th district. Runey is in the healthcare industry and is a Supervisor in the London Grove Township. Little-Turner from Coatesville is a real estate investment professional.

With five candidates (three Ds and two Rs) vying for the seat of retiring Sen. Andy Dinniman, the contested primary race will be interesting.

In another local race, State Rep. Melissa Shusterman (D-157) is seeking reelection. Rep. Shusterman is running unopposed on her party’s ticket and has no counterpart on the Republican ballot for the April 28 primary election. In addition to Rep. Shusterman, the Chester County Democratic Committee also endorsed Tredyffrin Township resident Chrissy Houlahan, incumbent for the 6th Congressional District.

For further information on all the local candidates, please check their social media sites.

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11 Comments

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  1. I do not understand why Kyle Boyer is a candidate for Dinniman’s seat. Beyond his extreme lack of experience, why should anyone support someone who has turned his back on a special needs child in TE? Seriously, he’s the chair of the committee making the policy and shows no support for the child with downs syndrome or her parents. I was at that policy meeting and he wouldn’t even let a resident read the letter from Sen. Dinniman. How petty and the resident even said, was it because you’re running against him? Of course, at that point Boyer probably thought he was a shoe-in, the only candidate. So the joke’s on him, there are four other qualified candidates for the job.

    [Reply]

    T/E Anonymous Parent Reply:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Boyer scares me, he really does. While getting him off the T/E School Board would be a win for all of us, he does not represent the best interests of this community in Harrisburg.

    [Reply]

    TE Resident Reply:

    Agree with TE AP that Kyle Boyer:

    —-he does not represent the best interests of this community in Harrisburg.—-

    Kyle doesn’t represent the best interests of the community in TE. He says he’s about public education. Kyle is about teachers; their comfort, their high pay, their outlandish retirement benefits
    and their gold standard healthcare none of us paying for all this get.

    Also agree with TE AP that:

    “Kyle Boyer is in over his head”…….and he’s too young, too inexperienced and too unaware to know it.

    He may become a worthy candidate in a few years, but for right now, it’s clear he has no idea what he is doing.

    Listen to his words, watch his behavior.

    [Reply]

    TE Resident Reply:

    The person who should run for State Senator is Scott Dorsey. Scott is one of the only people I know who could perfectly fill Andy Dinnamens shoes. He’s one of those people, like Andy, who could say just about anything to you and you wouldn’t be offended. He has that way about him. Perfect politician.

    He’s mature, experienced, and aware. He bugs me and I get on him but I believe he would have a good shot at winning.

    T/E Anonymous Parent Reply:

    Kyle has license to be smug – his party was swept into power and with that comes a sense of unchecked power. We’ve seen this before….but now he has to lead. His failure to do so will eventually place his Board seat in jeopardy, and perhaps future political aspirations.

    Failed expectations are a great governor to those with unbridled power, even if they don’t know it.

  2. Please go to you tube:

    TESD School Board Policy Committee February 4, 2020 Student Discipline
    310 views

    As stated above, the letter from Andy Dinnamen that he asked a citizen to read was not read because Kyle Boyer wouldn’t allow it. If you listen to the tape of the Feb. 4th Policy Committee Meeting at the 1:26:10 mark, you will hear Kyle talk to the citizen and say,

    “we’re not going to let you read the letter.”
    “I think it’s walking a very dangerous line.”

    How is allowing a Citizen to read a letter written by a State Senator in a public School Board Policy Meeting “walking a very dangerous line?”

    The danger was in NOT letting the citizen read the letter.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Reply:

    Here is the T/E School District Policy Committee meeting video link that you have reference:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HOAWGlp6fQ&feature=youtu.be

    [Reply]

    Doug Anestad Reply:

    Here is my comment from another thread:

    Kyle Boyer in his position of chair of the policy committee most likely broke the sunshine law when he did not allow the parent to read the statement from Senator Dinniman. The Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, 65 Pa.C.S. §§ 701-716 gives citizens a right to speak on issues that are or may be before the board. There is great weight given to people’s right to speak and there is quite a bit of law on the books in this regards.

    In addition, Kyle also most likely broke Policy 1350 – Campaigning for Public Office on District Property by Non-Students. It would seem quite obvious that his not letting the parent speak about the letter from Senator Dinniman was because at the time, Dinniman was running against Boyer (Dinniman has since dropped out). I have gone to over a hundred school board meetings and have never once seen a community member stopped from reading a letter. Why this time?

    Why did the the other school board members not insist that the parent be allowed to speak?

    Here is the response from TE Resident:

    Doug,

    Please go to the 1:26:10 mark on the You Tube tape from the Feb. 4th Policy Committee Meeting.

    Pattye posted the link in the comment section of her latest essay.

    You ask:

    “”””Why did the the other school board members not insist that the parent be allowed to speak?””””

    Listen to the tape. Not only did other school members not insist the parent be allowed to speak, they backed Kyle up and supported him in his effort to silence the parent. President Michele Burger immediately came to his defense saying, “We’ve already received a copy.” Kyle then says, “it’s been posted by you, shared by you. And posted by him”

    He goes on to say, “I think it’s walking a very dangerous line and I think the focus is on good Policy.”

    What is “Good Policy?” Why didn’t Solicitor Ken Roos come to the parents defense and let her speak?

    Keith Knauss, former UCF School Board Director asked:

    “””Did Mr. Boyer give a reason for terminating the comment from the parent who wanted to read Dinniman’s letter? “”””

    From TESD Policy 1120:
    The presiding officer or solicitor may:


    1) interrupt or terminate a participant’s statement when the statement exceeds time limits established by the Board, or is:

    
a. personally directed,

    b. abusive
    c. obscene
    d. irrelevant

    Kyle Boyer is the Chair Person of the Policy Committee. He is either unaware of Policy 1120 or he thinks the Policy doesn’t apply to him. What does he mean when he says “the focus is on good Policy,” when the Policy clearly gives the parent the right to read the letter.

    Kyle Boyer speaks, works and acts in his own self interests. He’s very transparent in his word and in his actions. Listen to what he says and watch what he does.

    Is this who we want in the State Senate? I hear he is backed and well funded by the teachers union. A frightening group who also works in their own best interests and against students, parents and tax payers.

    [Reply]

    T/E Anonymous Parent Reply:

    Kyle is in over his head; his biggest problem is himself. He needs to learn to be more modest, particularly in his role as a school board member. Should he ever acquire a larger political career, he will experience a rude awakening as the State House is a different world than the protective bubble of the TESD School Board.

    [Reply]

  3. Patty, you are right that replacing Senator Dinniman is not easy. I don’t know much about four of the candidates but after watching the policy meeting video, I know that I won’t be voting for school board director from T-E. Where does he get the right to tell an audience member that she cannot read Dinniman’s letter? I thought that public comment period is for the residents to comment, not to be told what they can and cannot say by the school board.
    FYI, I am not a T-E resident but follow community matters. I live in West Chester and can vote in the 19th District senate race.

    [Reply]

  4. When talking to Boyer when he was running for the school board, at first I wanted to like him but he quickly demonstrated to be to be into his degrees (and I told him of all mine which caused him to pause only briefly), strongly arrogant, lacking knowledge of msny issues, and unwilling to listen / learn. He’s hurting the school district and would be a greater disaster as representative.

    [Reply]

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