Laurie Elliott

League of Women Voters Debate: Part II, Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisor Candidates

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NOTE: The TE School Board candidate debate and the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors candidate debate are now available on the township website, click here.

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The League of Women Voters candidate debate for the Tredyffrin Township supervisor candidates followed the TE School Board candidates debate on Saturday.  The format was the same – 2-minute opening statements, audience questions read by LWV moderator and then 2-minute closing statement by candidates. All six candidates participated, Michelle Kichline (R), Trip Lukens (R), Mark Freed (D) and Murph Wysocki (D) for the two At-Large supervisor seats and Laurie Elliott (D) and EJ Richter (R) for the Middle supervisor seat.

Many of the audience members from the school board debate remained for the supervisor debate.  Perhaps due to the lateness in scheduling of the school board debate, there appeared to be many more residents attended the supervisor debate.  Whereas the focus of many of the audience questions for the school board candidates focused on communication, transparency and trust issue, it was interesting to note that no such questions were posed to the supervisor candidates.  Both the TE School Board and the Tredyffrin Township had two incumbents participating in the LWV forum – Kevin Buraks (D) and Rich Brake (R) for the School Board and Michelle Kichline (R) and EJ Richter (R) for the Board of Supervisors. TE School Board president (Buraks) and the Board of Supervisors Chair (Kichline) are both incumbents, seeking reelection.

The supervisor forum quickly became the debate between (1) the accomplishments of the current board versus (2) the criticism from their opponents of what more could have been accomplished.  Three of the four At-Large supervisor candidates (Kichline, Freed, and Wysocki) are attorneys; their banter and positioning making the fact obvious. However, with a background in commercial real estate evaluation and six years on the Planning Commission, Trip Lukens, the at-large supervisor candidate (without the legal background) handily held his own.  Although currently serving as an at-large supervisor, Chesterbrook resident EJ Richter is seeking election to the middle district seat, her opponent is Laurie Elliott from the Glenhardie section of the township.

Elliott’s message was primarily focused on safety and stormwater.  On safety, she supports the police department but due to increase in daytime burglaries, wants to make certain that the department remains fully staffed.  As a Glenhardie resident, she is eager to see solutions to the township’s stormwater issue and believes we need action rather than more studies.

Richter focused her statement to her role as ‘taxpayer advocate’ as she did in the 2009 election, claiming that while in office she has never voted for a property tax increase. In addition to her no tax increase stance, Richter offered a couple of accomplishments during her term as supervisor – the creation of ‘Tree-dyffrin’, the planting of trees in Wilson Farm Park for storm water management and working to get township street lights replaced.

In her second year as chair of the Board of Supervisors, Kichline pointed to some of the township achievements including the development of a citizen advisory committee that is working on ideas for keeping Tredyffrin competitive in the commercial development market.  Under her leadership, Kichline noted a new township website, new software that improves the planning and zoning process, and named several companies that have relocated to the township, including Auxilium and Teleflex, in addition to Shire’s decision not to leave. Kichline argued that the revitalization is beginning in Paoli and cited the $15 million residential project recently approved the SEPTA plan and the planned relocation of the dangerous N. Valley Bridge to Darby Road.

As a member of the Planning Commission, Lukens spoke of the process to rewrite the commercial zoning ordinance for the township as a vehicle to encourage development in the township. According to Lukens, the rewrite required a ‘looking outside the box’ approach and as an example mentioned the commercial zoning rewrite included increasing building height restrictions and structured parking as a means of better storm water management.

Freed, an environmental attorney, focused his attention on township storm water issues and ‘smart development’, pointing out the ;underused resources in the business parks and shopping centers;. Claiming that he, “knows how to get things done” Freed scoffed at Richter’s suggestion that Tredyffrin is undergoing a Renaissance with new restaurants, retail, etc. saying, “If this is a Renaissance, I’d hate to see what the Dark Ages were like”.   As pointed to by Kichline and Richter, a number of new retail stores, restaurants, companies have recently opened in Tredyffrin. Freed dismissed these as individual successes, preferring to focus on empty office buildings, shopping centers and storefronts.  According to him, enough with the “plan, plan, plan, study, study, study, money, money, money – we need action”.

With thirty-five years of experience as a commercial real estate lawyer, Wysocki’s focus was similar to Freed on the need for smart commercial redevelopment.  However, Wysocki’s particular focus was on the Paoli Transportation Town Center, restating several times that the project has been in the works for 20 years, and there is still no shovel in the ground. His frustration with the project delays was evident; believing that his background and experience can move it forward and that he” knows how to solve problems and get results”.  He suggests broadening the tax base with commercial redevelopment projects to increase commercial revenues and as result, residents will enjoy higher property values.

The common thread throughout the 2 hours was the need for economic redevelopment in the township – the question is which candidate can best make that happen.  Fifty percent of the supervisor candidates point to change that has occurred, including the updated township website and technology, commercial zoning re-write, new restaurants and retail stores, corporate re-relocations, citizen advisory group, etc. as an indicator of the future while the remaining candidates believe that the redevelopment in the community is not moving quickly enough and that more should be done.

The economic revitalization of Tredyffrin Township is critical to to the future of our community and a topi on which all six candidates agree.  The decision for the voter on November 5th  is which supervisor candidates are best prepared to make it happen. I encourage you to watch the debates, review the candidate’s websites and speak directly to the candidates — tell them your concerns; ask them your questons.    Election Day is Tuesday, November 5!

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Four weeks and counting until Election Day

Election Day 2013 is 4 weeks from tomorrow, Tuesday, November 5.  If you are not registered, today is the last day to register to vote in the Municipal Election.  Applications from Pennsylvanians registering for the first time, those changing their address or changing their party affiliation must be postmarked or delivered to Chester County’s board of elections by the close of business today, October 7.  Chester County’s board of elections is located at Government Services Center, 601 Westtown Rd., Suite 150, West Chester, PA 19380. Their phone number: 610-344-6410. Office hours: 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM.

Do you know the candidates for the Board of Supervisor or the Tredyffrin Easttown School Board? What issues facing the township and school district are important to you – do the candidates share your concerns, your opinions? How likely are you to vote on November 5?

If you are a voter in Tredyffrin Township, you will have an opportunity to learn more about the Board of Supervisors candidates.  The League of Women Voters is holding a supervisor debate on Saturday, October 19, 2-4 PM at the Tredyffrin Township Building. There are three contested seats on the Board – two for supervisor-at-large and a district supervisor for the middle district.  Seeking one of the two at-large supervisor seats is incumbent Michelle Kichline (R), Trip Lukens (R), Murph Wysocki (D) and Mark Freed (D).  Current at-large supervisor E.J. Richter (R) is opposing Laurie Elliott (D) for the middle district seat.

In recent years, the League of Women Voters also has held a debate for the TE School Board candidates. Unfortunately, the volunteer organization will not hold a similar debate this year for the school board candidates.  This is an important time to know your candidates – what are their backgrounds and experience, where do they stand on issues, etc. etc.  So … why no debate for the school board candidates?  Do you know who the school board candidates are?

On the Tredyffrin side of the school district, we have Democrat incumbent Kevin Buraks being challenged by Republican Pete Connors in Region I.  In Region II, Scott Dorsey (D) opposes incumbent Rich Brake (R).

On the Easttown side of the school district, there are two seats available in Region III.  For personal reasons, neither Betsy Fadem (R) nor Anne Crowley (D) is seeking re-election.  I attend almost every school board meeting and I have not met any of the four candidates vying for the two open Region III seats.  The candidates are Republicans Doug Carlson and Virginia Lastner and Democrats Maryann Piccioni and Jean Kim.

School board candidates Pete Connors and Scott Dorsey have each stated that they want the opportunity to discuss school district issues and are interested in pursuing a debate forum with the other school board candidates — Neither knows why a debate was not scheduled as in prior years. Because of my discussion with Connors and Dorsey (and the interest from the public in learning about the school board candidates), several options are being explored.  However, with only 4 weeks remaining until Election Day 2013, it does not leave much time to organize a ‘meet your school board candidate’ forum.

If the past is any indication, the political war for control will rear its ugly head over the next 30 days with school board and supervisor candidates door knocking, campaign mail pieces hitting our houses and the robo-calls that invariably come at dinnertime.  Voters need a reason to go the polls on November 5 – they need to know the issues and which candidates support their views. Everyone should be interested in the election because the future of the township, the school district and the community are dependent upon strong, issue-focused leadership.  The issues are complex and the School Board (and the Board of Supervisors) must work as a team united (with the community) to find effective solutions.

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Democrats and Republicans Finalize Slate of Tredyffrin Supervisor and T/E School Director Candidates

For candidates for the T/E School Board and the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, Tuesday, March 12 is the last day to circulate and file nomination petitions at Chester County Voter Services for Pennsylvania’s May 21, 2013 Primary Election.

T/E School Director candidates must file a petition signed by at least 10 qualified voters of the school district for the political party with which the petition will be filed.  Generally, school board candidates cross-file.  To cross-file in a primary election (that is, to run on both parties), a registered Democrat or Republican must circulate a proper petition for the other party.  The petition must contain signatures as previously mentioned.  If elected on both party ballots in the May primary, a candidate will appear on both party ballots in the general election in November.

The candidates for the May 21, 2013 Primary Election are as follows:

The Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidates for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

  • Tredyffrin, East – Region 1:  Pete Connors
  • Tredyffrin, West – Region 2:  Rich Brake **

The Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidates for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

  • Tredyffrin, East – Region 1:  Kevin Buraks **
  • Tredyffrin, West – Region 2:  Scott Dorsey

In addition to the Region 1 and Region 2 seats in Tredyffrin Township, Easttown Township, Region 3 has two school director seats up for election.  I have not confirmed whether incumbent Democrat Anne Crowley will seek a second term or Republican Betsy Fadem will seek a fourth term as School Board Directors from Region 3. I will update the Region 3, Easttown Township candidates for the T/E School Board when confirmed.

For Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidates:

  • Supervisor at Large:  Michelle Kichline **
  • Supervisor at Large:  Trip Lukens
  • District 2 Middle::  EJ Richter ** (a)

For Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidates:

  • Supervisor at Large:  Murph Wysocki
  • Supervisor at Large:  Mark Freed
  • District 2 Middle:  Laurie Elliott

** Incumbent

(a) Currently serving as a Tredyffrin Township At-Large supervisor, Evelyn Richter will seek re-election; not as an At-Large candidate but as a candidate in the Middle, District 2 race.  The current Middle, District 2 supervisor Phil Donahue has decided not to seek a second term.

In a review of the slate of candidates, there are some familiar names and some not so familiar names among the list. Republicans Michelle Kichline and Evelyn Richter are seeking re-election to the Board of Supervisors and Democrat Kevin Buraks and Republican Rich Brake to the T/E School Board. Another couple of recognizable names on the list …Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee have endorsed former candidates, attorney Murph Wysocki for an At-Large Board of Supervisors seat and pastor/administrator Scott Dorsey for the School Board in Region 2.

Also familiar is the current chair of Tredyffrin Township Planning Commission, Republican Trip Lukens, endorsed by the local Republican Committee as an At-Large supervisor candidate.  If you recall, Tredyffrin Planning Commissioner Tory Snyder, a Democratic candidate in the last election, lost by a handful of votes to Republican incumbent Paul Olson, for the District 1 East supervisor seat.  For those that regularly attend or watch Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors meetings, you may have seen Laurie Elliott at the microphone. A Glenhardie area resident, Elliott has been involved in the Trout Creek Overlay District and the Richter property development project, and now seeks to represent residents as a Middle, District 2 supervisor.

Unfamiliar names on the list (at least to me) are At-Large Board of Supervisor candidate, Democrat Mark Freed and Tredyffrin, East – Region 1 School Director candidate Republican Pete Connors.  A quick Google search indicates Mark Freed is an attorney and shareholder at Zarwin, Baum, DeVito, Kaplan, Schaer, Toddy, PC in Philadelphia. Freed concentrates his practice in the areas of environmental and toxic tort law and litigation.  Republican Pete Connors of Wayne is the founder and President of Remcon Plastics, Inc. a plastics manufacturer in the custom molding, material handling and safety products industries headquartered in Reading, PA.

As I have done in the past, I will be posting the resumes and/or bios of the supervisor and school board candidates, at some point.  I should point out, that there’s still time if you are interested in having your name on the May Primary ballot — remember, it only takes 10 signatures to run for the School Board.  Click here for a link to Chester County Voter Services for information.

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