Matt Holt

Tredyffrin Special Election Supervisor candidates – Where do they stand on the digital billboard, historic preservation ordinance and transparency? Know before you vote!

How many of you know that there is a special election on November 6 to fill an at-large seat on Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors? And that for the first time in township history, both candidates running to fill the vacancy are former supervisors! 

The last time that there was a special election on the ballot in Tredyffrin Township was in May 2011; a highly contested race between Mike Heaberg (R) and Molly Duffy (D) to fill an interim supervisor seat, as a result of Warren Kampf’s election as PA State Representative. If you recall, the special election results were so close that the winner’s name changed when malfunctioning voting machines required ballot hand counting. Ultimately, Heaberg was declared the victor and in the general election match-up race the same year, he won a regular 4-year term.

Now seven and a half years later, township residents will be choosing a supervisor in the special election on Nov. 6. In the sea of political campaign lawn signs are a couple of locally familiar names – Republican Judy DiFilippo and Democrat Mark Freed are the special election candidates running to fill the vacated at-large seat on Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors.

Republican Sean Moir, a second term supervisor abruptly resigned last month, having moved from the township and therefore no longer eligible to serve. The term for the vacated seat runs through 2019. The good news for residents is that both DiFilippo and Freed are seasoned township supervisors – Judy served for twenty years, six as its chair and Mark completed one four year term (2014-17).

Whoever wins the upcoming election will determine the party majority on the Board of Supervisors. With the departure of Moir (R), there are three Republicans (Heather Greenberg, Paul Olson and Trip Lukens (and three Democrats (Murph Wysocki, Matt Holt and Kevin O’Nell) currently serving. Because so often local township votes come down on party lines, the impact of who fills the seventh seat could be significant and if Freed wins, it will mark the first time in township history for a Democrat-majority board of supervisors.

The township and its residents is embroiled in a serious issue that would forever change the landscape and village feel of Paoli – the proposed digital billboard at the intersection of Rt. 252 and Lancaster Ave. I remain troubled that as a community we were kept in the dark for 18-24 months while township supervisors discussed the proposed digital billboard. The public only learned at the 11th hour with the township solicitor Vince Donohue using words like “negotiations” and “settlement agreement” in advance of the Catalyst presentation. I, like many others took that to mean that the digital billboard was a fait accompli.

With nearly 2,500 signatures showing support for the Change.org petition to “BAN the Digital Billboard in Paoli”) and a GoFundMe exceeding its goal, the community is fully engaged.  The laws signs are scheduled for delivery this week!

It is critical that voters know where special election supervisor candidates DiFilippo and Freed stand on important township issues –  the proposed digital billboard, historic preservation ordinance and transparency in local government. The candidates received 3 questions from me and were asked to respond in 100 words or less to each question. The following are the questions and the candidate responses, in the order received.

Question #1: As you are aware, the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors is entertaining a proposal to construct a digital billboard at the intersection of Rt. 252 and Lancaster Ave. in Paoli. The community has been told by the township solicitor that Catalyst Outdoor Advertising will initiate legal proceedings if the digital billboard is not approved. If you are elected before the vote occurs, how will vote and why.

Candidate Judy DiFilippo (R) response: I do not support the proposal by Catalyst Outdoor Advertising to construct digital billboards at the Route 252/Lancaster Avenue intersection.  In addition to the concern for safety of the traveling public, in my opinion, the mass of the signs proposed is not appropriate on that site. They do not reflect the overall aesthetic desired in Tredyffrin and do not respect the existing structure and its significance. If there is a deficiency in the Township’s sign ordinance relating to digital signs, a moratorium should be considered on any future applications for digital billboard signs until the ordinance is corrected.

Candidate Mark Freed (D) response: I oppose the Catalyst digital billboard proposal.  This billboard is wrong for Tredyffrin Township and would result in the destruction of a valued historic resource.  I have opposed the billboard since the concept was first floated by Catalyst when I was on the Board of Supervisors. I advised both my fellow Board members and Catalyst of my grave concerns.  I have not seen anything in the recent presentations to change my opinion and remain opposed to Catalyst’s proposal.

Question #2: Unlike most Main Line townships, Tredyffrin does not currently have a historic preservation ordinance. Please comment as to whether or not you would support such a township ordinance and why.

Candidate Judy DiFilippo (R) response: The Township has an award-winning 2003 Historic Resource Survey that lists hundreds of historic buildings and it explains the historic and/or architectural significance for each.  Valley Forge National Historical Park lies within Tredyffrin. We have a significant link to the founding of our country.  We should be proud to share that history.  I support the creation of an ordinance that appreciates and protects our most significant historic resources. Pennsylvania’s Municipalities Planning Code and Chester County’s Planning Commission have tooIs available to help us do that, including adaptive reuse.  We can protect historic resources and still respect an individual’s property rights.

Candidate Mark Freed (D) response: I support a historic preservation ordinance that protects our Township’s valued historic resources.  We must recognize Tredyffrin’s rich historic heritage.  We must also be mindful of the rights of the owners of historic resources. I understand that the Historical Commission has proposed an ordinance amendment that would prohibit the demolition of designated historic resources unless reviewed by the Historical Commission and approved by the Board of Supervisors at a public hearing. This amendment would prevent the issuance of over-the-counter demolition permits that have resulted in almost immediate demolition of our historic resources.  It would be a significant step forward.

Question #3: The support for openness and transparency in local government often appears on candidate campaign literature. What does it mean to you for local government to be open and transparent? Please be specific.

Candidate Judy DiFilippo (R) response: Transparency means you abide by the Sunshine Law. Certain matters dealing with Township personnel or pending litigation can be discussed in Executive Session by the Board and the Solicitor. When Executive Session meetings are held, it is announced during the Public Meeting. All Township Commissions, Advisory Councils, and Boards must abide by the Sunshine Law as well because their decisions and recommendations also impact the Township.  Open discussion by the Board and with the public is the only place for decision-making. The public should be able to rely upon that and upon the trust given to the individuals they elect.

Candidate Mark Freed (D) response: To me, openness and transparency mean providing the public with information in a timely manner, giving the public the opportunity to express their views at public meetings and elsewhere, listening respectfully, responding forthrightly, and letting the public know that their voices have been heard and respected.  They mean being clear and direct with the public about the Board’s decision-making process.  They mean remembering that Board members serve the public.

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Second Time Around — Support for Common-Sense Gun Control Legislation by Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors?

In light of the devastating tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, we are all concerned about the level of gun violence in our nation.

It’s past time to face reality. We, as a nation, need to do better. In the wake of the unspeakable horror of children being killed while at school, now is the time for action and … for sensible gun control laws.

Gun control doesn’t have to mean no guns. Arguments can be made for shotguns and rifles for hunting and handguns for protection. Somewhere, between these moments – the legitimate use of guns for hunting, and the too-easy access to guns by children and the mentally ill – there needs to be a solution. For me, that solution lies in sensible gun control measures.

But as Tredyffrin Township Supervisor Matt Holt learned at last month’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the support for common sense gun control legislation is challenging.  At the February 20th meeting, Holt presented a motion for a township resolution to support legislation sensible gun control laws. Without receiving a ‘second’ from any of his fellow supervisors, Holt’s motion failed.

To the credit of audience members attending the Board of Supervisors meeting, there was an unwillingness to let Holt’s motion fail without discussion. As a result of the demand for public input, Supervisor Murph Wysocki presented a new motion, seconded by Supervisor Sean Moir stating that the supervisors would work together on a new resolution to support legislation for common sense gun control laws for presentation at the next Board of Supervisors meeting on March 19.

The proposed resolution to support sensible gun control law legislation is included on the agenda for tonight’s Board of Supervisors meeting — the public is encouraged to attend and offer their input.

Here’s hoping that the second time around that the ‘new’ resolution, to support common sense gun control legislation, receives unanimous support from the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors.


Update:  After discussion and many comments from audience members, I am pleased to report that the resolution supporting common sense gun control legislature passed unanimously 7-0 at tonight’s Board of Supervisors meeting.

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Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you get to the finish line, it just matters that you finish!

As an update to my last post, Tredyffrin Township supervisor Matt Holt presented his proposed resolution at last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Holt’s motion on the resolution to support legislation for common sense gun control laws did not receive a ‘second’ when presented during new business.  A second to the proposed motion is required for the motion to have discussion from the Board of Supervisors.

Hearing no second to the motion, Chair Heather Greenberg attempted to move the meeting forward. To their credit, there was an immediate outcry from audience members demanding discussion. After several residents spoke out and a few comments from supervisors about the proposed resolution’s process, insufficient notification, representation of all residents, etc, etc, a new motion was presented by Murph Wysocki and seconded by Sean Moir. The Board passed the motion 7-0 and states that the supervisors will work together on a new resolution to support legislation for common sense gun control laws to present at the next Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday, March 19.

We thank Matt Holt for his proposal to support sensible gun law legislation and applaud the audience members who would not let the motion fail without discussion. Other than the fact that it was a freshman supervisor who initially proposed the resolution, it is unclear why further discussion and re-working is required — but we will look forward to the supervisors working together and presenting a new resolution on March 19.

Coincidentally, State Rep Warren Kampf (R-157) sent a constituent email out two hours before last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting, stating that he will introduce legislation to address mass shootings.  His proposal will focus on “… identification of potentially troubled individuals, especially young people, support for increased mental health and mental rehabilitation services, and commonsense actions to address firearm issues.”  Included in Kampf’s proposed legislation is the requirement for background checks on all gun sales, the prohibition of bump stocks and high-capacity magazines and funding for school security.

Rep. Kampf’s message read in part —

Unlike many who are playing politics or simply appealing to the simplest of emotions, I am making concrete proposals that have a chance of becoming law and making a positive difference. I know that I will be attacked by people on both sides of these issues. Pennsylvania is a diverse state and there are members of both parties who feel as strongly about enacting no controls as there are others who simply want to ban all firearms. We can either watch that fight continue with nothing happening, or we can follow a path toward intellectually honest action, and toward results. That is what I am choosing to do.

Don’t know whether it was Rep. Kampf’s message or the audience members at last night’s meeting who moved the Tredyffrin supervisors to continue discussion on a resolution to support common sense gun control legislation but I’m just glad it did!  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you get to the finish line … all that matters is that you finish!

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Enough is Enough — It is Time to Call for Action!

When will the madness end?

Today I grieve for the families who are in mourning.  Today I grieve for an angry, violent society that has lost its way.

Since last week, we have seen a horrible surge of sadness and anger from Americans all across the country — another mass shooting. Another one committed by a young man. One of the worst mass shootings in America – Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – as if such rankings matter. From Arizona to Colorado, to Oregon to Connecticut, to Las Vegas to Parkland, Florida – these mass murders will not end.

Innocent children losing their lives.  How many more children must die before we say enough is enough? When are we going to have the responsibility to take care of each other? How can we let this keep happening?

It’s past time to face reality. We, as a nation, need to do better. In the wake of the unspeakable horror of children being killed while at school, now is the time for action and … for sensible gun control laws.

Gun control doesn’t have to mean no guns. Arguments can be made for shotguns and rifles for hunting and handguns for protection. Somewhere, between these moments – the legitimate use of guns for hunting, and the too-easy access to guns by children and the mentally ill – there needs to be a solution. For me, that solution lies in sensible gun control measures.

Sensible gun control, even while keeping the Second Amendment should be easy, but there are many politicians who refuse to act. Reasonable constitutional limits on weapons that have no other use than mass murder are achievable and the failure of our leaders to make this happen is unconscionable.

Common sense would dictate that Congress should act to implement sensible gun control legislation, including a ban on weapons like the AR-15. It’s time to ban assault weapons. We need to make this moment a movement and to actually make changes that need to happen in this country.

Enough … it is time to call for action.

As a nation, as elected officials and as individuals we are obligated to break the log jam against gun reform.

Do you know where your local elected representatives stand on gun control?  In Tredyffrin Township, we are about to find out where our locally elected officials stand on sensible gun control!

Newly elected Tredyffrin supervisor Matt Holt is stepping up to the plate on gun control at Tuesday, Feb. 20th Board of Supervisors meeting, 7 PM at the township building.  Matt will introduce a resolution calling for state and federal representatives to enact sensible gun control legislation.  Although local governments cannot pass gun laws, they can act as a voice for the people to push common sense reform.  (Proposed resolution follows the post).

I supported Matt in November’s election for his strong support of historic preservation – now a few months into his new role as supervisor; I know that I made the right decision. Although unclear as to why Matt’s proposed resolution in support of sensible gun control legislation was not permitted on the Board of Supervisors meeting agenda, he will present it under the township’s ‘new business’.

An easy first step to for sensible gun control legislation, it will be important for the public to know how Mr. Holt’s fellow Tredyffrin Township supervisors vote on the resolution supporting sensible gun control legislation.

Proposed resolution to be introduced by Supervisor Matt Holt at Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors Meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 7 PM at Township Building:

A RESOLUTION OF THE TREDYFFRIN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS URGING STATE AND FEDERAL LAWMAKERS TO ENACT STRONGER PROTECTIONS AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE

            WHEREAS, an average of more than 108,000 people are shot and 32,514 people die from gun violence in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, and other shootings;[1] and

WHEREAS, the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors recognizes the Second Amendment and the rights therein, such as the right to individual gun ownership and the right to self-defense, it also recognizes that said rights are not unlimited and support reasonable measures to ensure greater safety in the ownership, procurement and use of guns in our society; and

WHEREAS, the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors is charged with securing the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Tredyffrin Township, yet is not recognized as having legal authority to enact gun safety laws, and

WHEREAS, the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors supports its police force in its ability to protect the safety of the citizens, and visitors to, the Township without threat from assault weapons or armed criminals, and

WHEREAS, this resolution has been considered and passed by multiple local governments in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors believes additional gun safety laws are needed to protect the safety and health of our residents and urges the Pennsylvania General Assembly and the Unites States Congress to enact laws to reduce gun violence, including:

  1. Preventing known and suspected terrorists, those convicted of violent hate crimes and those with a history of domestic abuse from illegally buying guns.
  2. Funding research into the effect of gun violence and gun safety technology.
  3. Requiring trigger locks on all homes where children are present.
  4. Banning access to assault-style weapons.
  5. Reducing the number of permissible cartridges in a clip or magazine.

This Resolution shall be distributed to current elected individuals:

The President of the United States
The Speaker of the House of Representatives
The U.S. Senate Majority Leader
The Governor of Pennsylvania
Congressman Ryan Costello
State Senator Andy Dinniman
State Representative Warren Kampf

[1] http://www.bradycampaign.org

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Election 2017: Referendum on President Trump as Democrats upped their game in Tredyffrin and TE School District races

The “Trump Effect” sweeping the nation found its way to our local municipal and school board elections. Every local election can be seen as a referendum on President Trump as voters came out in mass and cast their votes overwhelmingly in support of Democratic candidates, ousting sitting Republicans in the process.

In the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors race, At-Large candidate Murph Wysocki (D) was re-elected to a second term and newcomers Matt Holt (At-Large) and Kevin O’Nell (Middle District) candidates beat their Republican opposition. Historic in Tredyffrin Township, the election marks the first time in its 300 year history, that three of the seven seats will be held by Democrats.  If memory serves me correctly, Paul Drucker was the first Democrat elected to the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors in 2005.

As a result of the 2017 election, there are big changes coming to the T/E School Board.  Running for second terms on the school board from Region III, Easttown residents Virginia Lastner (R) and Doug Carlson (R) lost to their Democrat opponents Heather Ward and Tina Whitlow.  Region I school board candidate Scott Dorsey (D) had no opposition and will serve a second term.

In the T/E School Board Region II race, current Valley Forge Middle School teacher Kyle Boyer (D) prevailed over his Republican opponent Doug Anestad.   As a teacher in the T/E School District, Boyer has been the focus of much attention since declaring his candidacy last March and is now required to resign from his reaching position before the December 4 school board meeting. It has been stated that Boyer will immediately tender his resignation to the school district and the District will waive the 60-day notification requirement so that he can take office.   As a result of the 2017 election, the T/E School Board make-up will be seven Democrats and two Republicans.

All Chester County row office elections were won by Democrat candidates, including Tredyffrin Township resident Yolanda Van de Krol as newly elected County Clerk.

Thank you to all the candidates for caring about our community and your willingness to serve! Congratulations to those who have been elected – wishing you much success!

 

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