TTDEMS

Election 2017: Candidates for Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, TESD School Board & Magisterial District Judge, District 15-4-01

The 2017 Election campaign season is officially underway for Tredyffrin Township supervisor, TE School District directors and Magisterial District Judge candidates.

All candidates who wished to appear on the Democratic or Republican ballot in the Primary Election needed to have filed their “nomination petitions” along with a “statement of financial interests” with Chester County Voter Services. The nomination petition documents required the signature of registered voters, who are enrolled in the party of which the candidate sought nomination and reside in the electoral district of the office sought. The statement of financial interests requires the candidate to provide information regarding the filer’s source of income.

Below is the list of our local candidates for supervisor, school board and magisterial district judge – best of luck to all those taking the journey!  Regardless of party affiliation and stance on specific issues, we thank you for your time, effort and willingness to serve!

The last day for withdrawal by candidates who filed nomination petitions is March 22.  The Primary Election date is May 16.

Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors

There are three Tredyffrin Township supervisor positions available – two at-large and one in the middle district.  Currently serving at-large supervisor Mark Freed (D) and middle district supervisor Evelyn Richter (R) have chosen not to seek reelection.  At-large supervisor Murph Wysocki (D) is seeking a second term. Terms are four years.

Three attorneys, a physician, corporate CEO and real estate agent will vie for Tredyffrin Township’s three available supervisor seats.

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

  • Supervisor at Large: Raffi Terzian, MD
  • Supervisor at Large: Robin Bond, Attorney
  • District 2 (Middle): Beth Coppola, Real Estate Agent

For Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has announced the following candidates: (official endorsement meeting not yet held)

  • Supervisor at Large: Matthew Holt, Attorney
  • Supervisor at Large: Murph Wysocki, Attorney *
  • District 2 (Middle): Kevin O’Nell, CEO, Peoplelinx

* Incumbent

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TE School District School Board

For the 2017 election, there is a change to the election districts in the TE School District. The regional election districts in the TE School District were approved for realignment last year to address changes in population that had resulted in disparity among the voting regions. The new regional election districts take effect with the 2017 voting cycle. Terms on the school board are four years.

Voting Precincts: (Representatives will serve through December 31, 2017.)

Region 1- Tredyffrin E-1, E-2, E-3, E-4, E-5, M-1, M-5, M-6
Region 2- Tredyffrin  M-2, M-3, M-4, M-7, W-1, W-2, W-3, W-4, W-5
Region 3- Easttown 1-7

Voting Precincts Beginning with the 2017 Election: 

Region 1- Tredyffrin E-2, E-3, E-4, E-5, M-1, M-2, M-5, M-6, W-3, W-4,
Region 2- Tredyffrin M-3, M-4, M-7, W-1, W-2, W-5
Region 3- Tredyffrin E-1, Easttown 1-7

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

  • Region 2: Doug Anestad, Senior Technology Consultant

The Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has announced the following candidates for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director: (official endorsement meeting not yet held)

  • Region 1: Scott Dorsey, Pastor, Director of Children’s Services *
  • Region 2: Kyle Boyer, Educator

* Incumbent

Incumbent school board director Scott Dorsey (D) is seeking a second term on the TE School Board. The Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has chosen not to oppose Rev. Dorsey in the Region 1 school board race.

Incumbent school board directors Doug Carlson (R) and Virginia Lastner (R) are seeking reelection for a second term in Region 3.  Carlson currently serves as the President of the TE School Board.

UPDATE: Candidates Tina Whitlow (D) and Heather Ward (D) have filed to run for TE School Board for Region 3.

The Region 2 school board race will be interesting.  Republican Doug Anestad, a computer consultant, attends many of the school district meetings and is an active resident participant – most notably outspoken in his opposition of the VF Middle School fencing project (which the current school board elected to install).  Anestad’s opponent in the school board race is candidate Kyle Boyer (D) who is a currently a TESD social studies teacher at VF Middle School.  I do not recall when we have had a candidate for the TE School Board, who was a current TE School District teacher.  This could prove to be a delicate balance for candidate Boyer – employed as a teacher in the school district where he seeks to serve on its school board.

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Magisterial District Judge, District 15-4-01

Incumbent Analisa Sondergaard (D), an attorney is seeking her second 6-year term for Magisterial District Judge, District 15-4-01.  Opposing Sondergaard is Liz Mercogliano(R), attorney, realtor and RN.

Unlike the school board and supervisor candidates, where only 10 signatures are required on the nomination petitions, the magisterial district judge candidates are required to have 100 signatures. As is the case with school board candidates, those seeking district judge position, can cross-file and appear on both Republican and Democratic ballots.  To appear on both Republican and Democratic ballots, a school board candidate would need to have a minimum of 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats signatures and a magisterial district judge candidate would need a minimum of 100 signatures from each political party.

Primary Election 2015 Results for Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors and School Board Races: Amidst Low Turnout, Results Indicate Interest in Change

Your vote mattersPrimary Election 2015 was yesterday and Chester County Voter Services has now calculated the results. Tredyffrin Township has 9,003 registered Republicans and 8,146 registered Democrats. For Primary Day, it was nearly a dead heat of Republicans and Democrats showing up to vote. Approximately 17.8% of the registered Democrats voted (1,447 voters) and 17.7% of the registered Republicans voted (1,596 voters) yesterday. If you want your vote to matter, you have to vote!

I received some early inaccurate results however the following information is verified from the County website. In reviewing the cumulative results, the total vote count for the Board of Supervisor races are as follows:

Tredyffrin Township Supervisor: At-Large 
Sean Moir(R) 1,378
Trip Lukens(R) 1,316
Elva Bankins(D) 1,264
Lou Horvath(D) 1,253

Two at-large seats are available on the Board of Supervisors and no incumbents are in the race. Republicans Mike Heaberg and Kristen Mayock are current at-large supervisors and are not seeking re-election. Both having previously run unsuccessfully for the Board of Supervisors, Moir and Lukens received the highest number of votes in yesterday’s Primary Election. Political newcomers, Democrats Bankins and Horvath followed closely behind Moir and Lukens in total votes.

Tredyffrin Township Supervisor:  District 3: West 
Yolanda Van de Krol(D) 444
Heather Greenberg (R) 416

Currently serving Western District supervisor John DiBuonaventuro is not seeking reelection. Both newcomers to the municipal supervisor races, Van de Krol received the highest number of votes in the Primary Election.

Tredyffrin Township Supervisor:  District 1: East 
Paul Olson(R) 466
Tory Snyder(D) 464

The District 1 supervisor race has a re-match between Tredyffrin Township Planning Commissioner chair Tory Snyder(D) and Paul Olson(R), the longest-serving supervisor in the history of the township. If you recall, in 2011, this particular supervisor race was extremely close with only 13 votes separating them in the General Election. For Primary Election 2015, Olson received only two more votes than Snyder. It doesn’t get much closer, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens over the next 6 months.

For many people, the Board of Supervisor races have taken a backseat to the TE School Board races.

Five of the nine seats on the school board are available. Four Board members, Karen Cruickshank (D), Pete Motel(R), Jim Bruce(R) and Liz Mercogliano(R) are not seeking reelection. The fifth available school board seat is held currently by Board President Kris Graham(R) who is seeking reelection.

The unresolved school fencing issues, the very expensive $4 million + maintenance building and the outsourcing of the aides and paraeducators are just three school district issues that recently have had some of us questioning the decisions of the current school board. The Primary Election results indicate an interest from the community in ‘change’, particularly the numbers in Tredyffrin, Region 2.

TE School Board: Tredyffrin West, Region 2
Michele Burger(D) 1138
Ed Sweeney(R) 922
Kris Graham(R) 764
Alan Yockey(D) 691*
(*Not cross-filed)

In the only school board race with an incumbent, Democrat Michele Burger has a commanding lead, with more than 200 votes separating her and Republican Ed Sweeney, with incumbent Kris Graham(R) in third place. With only two seats available in Region 2, if the General Election were held today it would mean that incumbent Kris Graham would no longer be sitting on the school board.

TE School Board: Tredyffrin East, Region 1
Roberta Hotinski(D) 604
Todd Kantorczyk (D) 572
Neal Colligan(R) 495
George Anderson(R) 398*
(*Not cross-filed)

Two positions on the school board are available in Region 1. All political newcomers, the Democratic candidates Roberta Hotinski and Todd Kantorczyk received the two highest vote totals in the Primary Election.

In addition to the Region 1 and Region 2 seats in Tredyffrin Township, Region 3 in Easttown Township has one seat available. Currently serving school board director Dr. Pete Motel(R) is not seeking reelection.

The Primary Election results for Easttown, Region 3 have Republican Kate Murphy receiving 610 votes and Democratic Fran Reardon receiving 268 votes. Reardon did not cross-file. Although both Murphy and Reardon themselves are newcomers to the school board races, Murphy is the daughter of a well-known local political family, Steve and Carol Aichele. Steve Aichele served as the Chief of Staff for former PA Governor Tom Corbett. Carol Aichele served as Secretary of the Commonwealth under Corbett and previously served as a Chester County Commissioner and TE School Board member.

The results of the Region 2 School Board race should be a message not just to incumbent Kris Graham but to the entire school board. More and more people are ‘tuning in’ as to what is going on and do not necessarily support some of this Board’s decisions.  Whether it is the increasing taxes, school fencing, outsourcing of District employees, an over-priced maintenance building, lack of transparency,  etc. – these votes reflect a desire for change.  The Board needs to accept that this is no longer a ‘few discontents’ but that more and more residents are paying attention and are troubled by some of their decisions.

It will be interesting to see if the Primary Election proves to be an indicator for what we will see in November.  It is six months until the General Election and much can happen between now and then, particularly with the addition of the Independent voters.  Pennsylvania does not allow Independent voters a voice in the Primary Election but come November, our votes will count!  I am sure that the local political analysts will have more to say on the Primary Election results and I welcome the discussion.

In closing, I have to include this photo from Primary Day. I ran into the Democrat and Republican chairs (Kathleen Keohane and Neill Kling) at Our Lady of the Assumption, one of the voting locations yesterday and they generously posed for this photo. Although I’m delighted to include it here on Community Matters, I challenged each of them to include it on the respective websites!

Kathleen Keohane and Neill Kling

Kathleen Keohane, Tredyffrin Democratic Party Chair with Neill Kling, Chair of Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee on Primary Election Day, Our Lady of the Assumption.

State Rep Warren Kampf takes on TTDEMS Chair Dariel Jamieson for lying about him … again!

Below is an excerpt from an op-ed written by State Rep Warren Kampf (R-157).  In the article, Kampf is calling for an end to uncivil discourse.  He uses a couple of examples in his editorial of uncivil speech, including Dariel Jamieson’s recent letters to the editors.  It is not Jamieson’s right to voice her opinion concerning Kampf’s vote on the transportation bill that is the issue but rather her lying about a political pledge she states that Kampf took.  As I said in my last post, Jamieson compounded the difficult situation by writing a second letter to the editor and not taking responsibility for her incorrect accusations contained in her first letter. Civil discourse means to engage in conversation intended to enhance understanding – personal attacks and lies are wrong and diminish the value of the argument.

In his latest op-ed, Kampf does not say Jamieson’s actions were politically motivated.  However, when you write an editorial attacking a Republican elected official and sign the letter as chair of the local Democratic Committee (as Jamieson did), it is not a stretch to come to that conclusion.  For those keeping score – Dariel Jamieson has now written two editorials attacking Warren Kampf in the last couple of weeks and Kampf’s op-ed marks his second response back to her.  Here’s hoping that Jamieson does not feel compelled to write a third letter to the editor on the same topic!

Beyond the uncivil discourse created by Jamieson’s letters, I remain troubled that her actions as the political party chair are putting Murph Wysocki and Mark Freed, the newly elected Democratic Tredyffrin Township supervisors, in an awkward position less than a month before they take office.  Wysocki and Freed will join five Republican supervisors on the Board and this ‘war of words’ from Jamieson going on in the background cannot be helpful to them.  I will not believe that Jamieson sought counsel with either Wysocki or Freed before engaging in this discourse against Kampf – if she had, it is extremely doubtful that they would have approved either of these letters.

When you accept the role of president or chair of an organization, and act publically in that capacity, you need to ensure that your voice is representative of those that you are elected to serve – are Jamieson’s letters to the editor representative of TTDEMS members opinions?  I hope not.

In closing, I echo Kampf’s words,” … every citizen and every elected official – would be better served saying what we must in a way that achieves civil discourse …”   Below is the excerpt from Kampf’s Op-Ed, to read the entire article, click here.

It’s Time to End Uncivil Discourse

As State Representative, I am accustomed to hearing from constituents as they present their views and positions on issues being addressed in Harrisburg and here at home.  Some agree with me.  Some do not.  But, mostly, all make their points in a manner that is respectful and fair.   I work hard to do the same in answering their concerns.  It’s called civil discourse, and it is one of the foundations of our representative democracy.

Unfortunately over the past few months – as we have seen arguments over government shutdowns in Washington, D.C., differences surrounding the recently enacted Transportation Funding package in Harrisburg, and now the passionate feelings over eminent domain issues in Phoenixville – it has become clear that too many have abandoned civil discourse in favor of uncivil speech and actions.

This speech and these actions do us no good.  It forces people, who are otherwise normally reasonable, to abandon the idea of achieving pragmatic progress.  It forces gridlock.  It stops us from addressing truly important issues.

During the debate over the Transportation Funding package, I was accused in a Letter to the Editor of choosing my position based on a political pledge to a Washington, DC special interest group.  The problem?  I had never taken any such pledge (something that was easily verifiable with a simple internet search) and I had made it known publicly that my position came from surveying the people I represent.  My attacker, however, had no problem simply submitting a lie to the newspaper.  That’s uncivil discourse.

I give my attacker respect for her position on the issue and her passion over it.  I believe, however, her point could have been made in a way that was more respectful to both the public and me.  Had she made her point this way, I believe it may also have been more effective for those she wished to persuade. . . .

Let me be clear: I am in no way suggesting that citizens abandon making their voice heard, be it in favor or opposition to an issue.  As the saying goes, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

I am just suggesting that all of us – every citizen and every elected official – would be better served saying what we must in a way that achieves civil discourse again.   In this way, we can find our way to truly addressing issues rather than just fighting about them.  That is a simple goal we should all strive to achieve if we truly care about making our community stronger.”

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.

Go Green … 3rd Annual Eco-Tour Tomorrow in Tredyffrin!

Tomorrow marks the third year for the Tredyffrin Backyard Eco-Tour  — Saturday, July 7, eight eco-gardeners in and around Tredyffrin will welcome the public in to their backyards.

The Tredyffrin Backyard Eco Tour will offer gardeners, aspiring gardeners or people who want to learn more about gardening in an environmentally friendly way, an opportunity to see some of the most creative uses of natural landscapes.  Living in a sustainable community nowadays is becoming more important as our water and non-renewable resources are becoming scarcer.

  • Tour the gold certified “green” building at Jenkins Arboretum
  • Discover the Discovery Garden at Heritage School (fun for kids)
  • How to install a small pond or water feature in your yard
  • Find out about implementing solar and geothermal energy for homes
  • See 3 Certified Wildlife Habitats and learn how to create your own
  • Learn about locally native plants – trees, shrubs, perennials, vines, etc.
  • Learn how to save $$ on fertilizers, herbicides, lawn care & maintenance

This is a great chance to learn about using native plants, renewable energy, and sustainable practices in your own home and garden. Eco-gardens prove that you can have a landscape that is beautiful and unique – and gentle on the environment.   Not to be missed, the tour will provide visitors with plenty of inspiring ideas for their own gardens.

DATE: Saturday, July 7th (rain or shine)

TIME: 10 am to 4 pm (arrive & depart on your own schedule)

STARTING LOCATION:  Purchase your “badge” and get map & directions at Tredyffrin Township Library parking lot (582 Upper Gulph Rd., Strafford/Wayne, PA 19087) from 9:45 am to 3:00 pm

COST: $10 per adult, children under 18 free

The Clock Ticks Down to Election Day – Soon it will be up to ‘Us’, the voter!

In less than 36 hours, the polls will open on Tuesday at 7 AM, Election Day.  Soon it will be up to us, the voters.

Although I encourage everyone to take their voice to the polls on Tuesday, I admit that this political campaign season has disappointed.  Some would suggest that negative campaigning is the way to mobilize the partisan base.  Perhaps, but where does that leave the independent and swing voters?  Emotion-packed or personal attacks on campaign mailers play a different role than policy-based attacks.

The political rhetoric in this country has become too vitriolic . . . we are losing the ability to discuss things with civility.  The poisonous rhetoric is everywhere; turn on CNN or read the New York Times . . . ‘our national discourse’ has tumbled to new lows.  Regrettably, it is not limited to the national campaigns but it is right here; in our own backyard.

Certainly some of the campaign mailers and political signs have made good points, but it is the way they are presented.  The politicos are not trying to reach us intellectually; they want to draw on our emotions – make us afraid, angry, anxious.

We all understand that a natural part of any political campaign is opposition research.  After all, a candidate has to make a case to the voter that they are the more experienced, the better prepared, and the best ‘choice’.  Therefore, we should not be surprised that the next step is for the campaign camps to feel pressure to let voters know “the truth” about their opponent, especially if that person has already gone negative. The pressure builds between the opposing sides.  One side attacks and then the other side feels they have little choice but to respond in kind.  Yes, that is the name of the game . . . politics.

Often times during this campaign season, I watched with sadness as members of this community lobbied attacks against each other.  It is such a shame, because for every minute a candidate spends attacking his opponent that is one less minute that could be spent talking about legitimate differences on policy issues that actually affect the voters. Speaking of differences between the sides – at times it has appeared the candidates were more similar than different.

Where does all this leave us for Election Day; what is a voter to do?  There are no campaign enforcement police making sure everyone is telling the truth. My hope for all of you who hold the privilege to vote is to think for yourself.  Do a little research and use that developed human brain of yours.  Please try not to be influenced by the negative campaign ads. Your vote is worth more than a nay saying ad or a half-truth campaign mailer.

Think for yourself, beyond what your neighbor, your friend or co-worker favors. Know the candidates and support those who have shown principled behavior. Exercise your right to vote in a sane, thoughtful manner and make your vote count this Tuesday!

It is now up to ‘us’ . . . the voters.

T/E School Board Candidates Asked What’s Most Important Issue – Responses from Tredyffrin Democratic candidates & Easttown candidates, no Tredyffrin Republican candidate responses

We know that local elections are important and that the choices that you make on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8 will help determine the future of our community.  As a way to better understand the school board candidates and what they value as the most important issues facing the district, I sent a three-part question to all Tredyffrin-Easttown School Board candidates. Previously, I had received and posted the responses from Easttown school board candidates – Republican Pete Motel and Democrat Craig Lewis.

Following the League of Women Voters debate on October 25, I received responses to the question from Tredyffrin Democratic school board candidates.  However, the Tredyffrin Republican school board candidates declined to participate.

Below is the question and the responses from Tredyffrin’s Democratic school board candidates Karen Cruickshank, Jerry Henige, Scott Dorsey and Jenny Wessels.   Following their responses, I have reposted the responses from Easttown’s school board candidates Pete Motel (R) and Craig Lewis (D)

It’s a shame that the Republican school board candidates in Tredyffrin Twp declined to respond. One of two reasons — either the Republican school board candidates in Tredyffrin didn’t see any value in my question (and their answers) or they didn’t see value in Community Matters.  But then two of the Republican school board candidates (Tara LaFiura, Region 1 and Liz Mercogliano, Region 2) decided against participating in the League of Women Voters debate so perhaps I should not take their decision as personal.

Dear School Board Candidates:

Local elections are important.  In an attempt to inform voters for Election Day, as a candidate for the TE School Board, I hope you will participate in the following Q&A on Community Matters.

In 200 words or less, please respond to the following question. Incorporate all three parts of the question into your response and please be specific.  School board candidate responses will list on Community Matters in the order that they are received.

(1) In your opinion, what is the single most important issue facing the Tredyffrin Easttown School District?
(2) If you were elected, what would you do to help solve or improve this issue?
(3) The Tredyffrin Easttown School District needs problem-solvers; what in your background or job experience qualifies you to help solve this important issue?

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Karen Cruickshank
Democratic Candidate for School Director, Region 1

The most important issue facing the T/E School District is our fiscal outlook.

The School District faces a 5.5 million dollar budget gap for 2012 and increases to 17 million in 2015.

State controlled pension obligations will increase from 4.7 million in 2011 to 13.3 million in 2015. In 2001 state legislators gave themselves, state employees, and public school employees a big increase in pension pay outs. These increases were never OKd by local school districts or the public.

The second budget factor is a loss of 6.5 million in revenues since 2006 from commercial and residential real estate reassessments.

In response to fiscal issues the School District has cut 10 million dollars out of its budget. Our teacher’s union gave up half of their raises for this year and our non-teaching union gave up all of their raises.

If re-elected I will work with legislators, unions, administrators, and citizens to find solutions to fiscal issues. I will look for ways the District can become more efficient without hurting the quality of our schools.

A trained higher education professional, I understand the issues facing education. I am trained in conflict negotiation and am a proven consensus builder.

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Jerry Henige
Democratic Candidate for School Director, Tredyffrin Region 1

We have great schools that contribute to the wonderful quality of our neighborhoods. However, our great schools are facing serious financial challenges. For example, we are losing almost $3M a year due to property reassessments and this amount will continue to grow. And, based on bad decisions in Harrisburg, the amount the school district is being asked to pay into the pension funds will grow from $3M last year to $13.4M over the next 4 years.

At the same time Kevin Mahoney, the financial expert on the school board, is retiring leaving a critical skills gap. The financial challenges are too great to leave this gap unfilled. I believe that with my 30+ years of management and financial experience, I am the candidate that is best suited to fill this gap.

We need a school board that can work as a team to focus on potential solutions. We need to partner with parents and taxpayers, teachers and other school districts, our townships and employers to put pressure on Harrisburg to address the pension problem.

We need a school board that is prepared to work diligently to find common ground with all these constituencies. We need to be willing to try alternative approaches to education that may be more effective than what we are doing today. And we need to consider the plight of the retiree on fixed income, the family with a member who has lost a job.

I believe that I have the financial skills, temperament and energy to manage the serious financial challenges facing the school board.

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Scott Dorsey
Democratic Candidate for School Director, Tredyffrin Region 2

Today our district is facing a financial storm that threatens the excellence that we have come to expect from our schools.   $6.5 million in lost property tax revenues because of reassessments, and other revenue shortfalls will devastate programs that are vital to many average students.  Co-curricular and extra-curricular programs are also in danger. I have proven track record as a non- profit Administrator who is fiscally responsible, and I am personally opposed to the Earned Income Tax.

My background as an educator and community leader has inspired my passion for investing in children’s success. In response to TESD’s budget challenges, I propose to:

  • Collaborate with the public and private sector for solutions that combine best educational and business practices that will benefit every child
  • Fight to hold the line in the upcoming teachers’ contract
  • Find creative solutions to keep sports and other after-school activities from being cut
  • Work with the Unions to lobby the state legislature to fix the pension system
  • Work with the Township to build grant-funded sidewalks that could reduce transportation costs

I have deep experience as an administrator who has helped lead multi-million dollar non- profit organizations from the red to sound fiscal footing.   I am a skilled consensus builder.  I am the only school board candidate who has not sought union endorsement because I believe full transparency is required in the upcoming contract negotiations. I will lead with integrity, fiscal responsibility, and a dedication to investing in our children’s success.

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Jennifer Lightman Wessels
Democratic Candidate for School Director, Tredyffrin Region 2

The most important issue facing our school board is managing our limited financial resources while minimizing the impact on our educational program.  I will be a voice on the board committed to protecting our outstanding educational program.

To lessen the financial strain on our district, I will lobby Harrisburg for legislative reform.  I will use my training as a labor attorney to achieve a successful result during contract negotiations with the teachers’ union in 2012.  I will be open to innovative ideas, such as pursuing new income streams from advertising and private funding.  I will not, however, support the implementation of new taxes such as the Earned Income Tax (EIT) and I would oppose any move to enact an EIT in Tredyffrin Township.

As a parent of two young children in our school district and having served as the President of the PTO at New Eagle Elementary School for two years, I understand and care deeply about the issues facing our school district.  As a taxpayer, I understand the importance of balancing these concerns with fiscal restraint and responsibility.

Among all the school board candidates, I am unique in that I will bring both a parent’s perspective and a lawyer’s skill to this job.  I look forward to the opportunity to serve.

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Pete Motel
Republican Candidate for School Board Director, Easttown Township

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.

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Craig Lewis
Democratic Candidate for School Director, Easttown Township

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:

-$777,000
-$3,909,000
-$7,925,241
-$11,862,000
-$15,450,000

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.

Community Matters Clarification on BOS and School Board Candidate Responses

It has come to be attention that some readers may be confused about the last couple of Community Matters posts and are questioning why Tredyffrin Republican supervisor and school board candidates did not respond to my questions and that the Democratic candidates did. Hope this post will offer clarification.

In early October, I sent an email to all the Tredyffrin Republican and Democratic supervisor and school board candidates.  In addition, I sent the Republican and Democrat school board candidates in Easttown the same email.  The email asked the candidates to (1) idenify what they thought was the most important issue facing either the school district or the township, (2) the candidate was asked what they would do to help or solve the issue if elected and (3) what in their background or experience qualifies you to help solve the issue.  I was specific and asked that the 3-part question be 200 words or less and gave them a deadline that was prior to the League of Women Voters debates.

The Easttown school board candidates Pete Motel (R) and Craig Lewis (D) responded with their answers prior to the deadline and those responses were posted on Community Matters on October 19.   In that October 19 post, I also explained that the Tredyffrin Republican and Democratic supervisor and school board candidates had declined to participate.  Here is an excerpt from that post:

. . . 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.”

The chair of the Tredyffrin Democratic Party Dariel Jamieson responded on behalf of the Democratic supervisor and school board candidates, declining to participate until after the League of Women Voters debates.  Here is an excerpt from that email:

“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.

Following the League of Women Voters debates, I received responses to my questions from the Democratic supervisor and school board candidates.  Although the responses were past my original deadline, I thought there was value for the voters in posting them.  But so everyone knows, I actually sent a courtesy email to the Republican candidates last week to explain that the I had received the Democratic responses and offered the Republican candidates a second opportunity to answer the questions. My email to the Republican candidates stated that that no response was required if they were not going to participate; and for the record, there was no response to my email.

So there is absolutely no question in anyone’s mind — if the Republican supervisor and school board candidates would like to answer the 3-part question — I am now making a third offer to them.  Candidates — answer the 3-part questions in 200 words or less and email them to me at: tredyffrincommunitymatters@gmail.com  I will be happy to post your responses!  I hope this clarifies the timeline and that I gave all candidates exactly the same opportunity.  I am sorry if there was any confusion!

Township Board & Commission Vacancies . . . Appointments Without Partisan Politics

Last night was the first meeting of the township’s new Historical Commission.  The seven members of the HARB (Historical Architecture Review Board) were appointed to the Historical Commission.  The new commission was established with nine members.

A Community Matters reader reminded me that I should advertise the two vacancies on the Historical Commission.  We need one of the positions to be filled by a certified architect and the other would be for someone with a background/interest in historic preservation, history or archeology. I and three other Historical Commission members are working on a Chester County historic resource mapping project which has been fun – we’re locating and identifying all properties that are 75 years or older in the township, that were not included in the historic resource survey the HARB did 6 years ago.  Unfortunately, we have discovered a number of the historic resources no longer exist.

If I am going to name the vacancies on the Historical Commission, I thought it would be good to review all the boards and commissions in the township . . . and see where there are other vacancies.  Municipal boards, commissions and advisory committees exist to further the township’s success through the volunteer participation of citizens in the daily business of community government. 

The following vacancies currently exist in the township.  If you visit the township website, www.tredyffrin.org you can read the requirements and mission of each of these boards.

  • Cable TV Advisory Committee (CATV) – 1 vacancy
  • Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) – 1 vacancy
  • Historical Commission – 2 vacancies, (one position is for certified architect)
  • Municipal Authority – 2 vacancies

How does the process work for board appointments?  I assume that my appointment to HARB (and now the Historical Commission) is similar to other boards/commissions.  If you are interested in serving and have the background, experience or skill requirement you send a resume and letter of interest to the township at tredyffrin@tredyffrin.org . The supervisors are notified of your interest and an interview time is scheduled.  It has been awhile ago, but I think there were 4 supervisors at my interview.

I want to believe that all board appointments are made for the right reason.  Appointments on boards and commissions should go to those that are best qualified to serve in that position.  In the past, there has been talk of partisan appointments to some of the township boards.  In response to this kind of discussion, I have deferred to the HARB (now Historical Commission) and its members.  Historic preservation is very specific and those that serve are passionate about the history of the community and its historic resources.  As an example, our group has always been without the bias of partisan politics.

However, is the policy of nonpartisan appointments the same if you want to volunteer for other township boards, such as the Zoning Hearing Board or the Planning Commission?  In my world, I would hope that the Board of Supervisors would treat applicants equally and choose the best qualified candidate, regardless of their political party affiliation.  There should be a sense of fairness to the board and commission appointments.  Citizens should apply and feel they have an equal opportunity to serve on any board or commission, regardless of their political affiliation. 

If they are the most qualified and have a willingness to serve, all citizens should be welcomed.  If any of these vacancies appeal to you, I would encourage you to submit your resumes.  It is a wonderful way to volunteer and help your community.

What’s the future of the Paoli Transportation Center project . . . Remember, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’!

I continue to wonder about the PA Department of Transportation’s interest in the Downingtown train station; the cost of purchasing land and building a new train station when the existing station is only 20 years old.  I am certain that Downingtown probably needs additional parking but with one-third the daily ridership of Paoli, I am troubled how the Downingtown project, seemingly out of nowhere, appears to have shot to the ‘head of the class’ in interest for the DOT.  With major budget cuts in Harrisburg, and a finite amount of dollars for transportation projects, there should be alarm for existing transportation projects such as the Ardmore Transit Center and the Paoli Transportation Center. Will there be enough money to go around to all these projects?

There is concern in Ardmore that their long-standing transportation project may likewise take a backseat to Downingtown, and the suggestion is that it is political connections – either by Downingtown elected officials or ‘lack of’ connections by Ardmore’s elected officials.  To read further about Ardmore, see the latest post from Carla at Save Ardmore Coalition.

Why does politics have to drive projects in Harrisburg?  Is it the squeaky wheel that gets greased?  Sen. Andy Dinniman’s jurisdiction covers both Downingtown and Paoli, so which train station project does he prioritize . . . the project that is years in the making (Paoli) or this new train station project in Downingtown? 

Serving as state representative for the 155th legislative district, which includes Downingtown, is Curt Schroder (R-East Brandywine).  A quick review of his website did not produce any news on the Downingtown train project, but I did discover that Schroder chairs the House Gaming Oversight Committee that is responsible for the state’s gambling industry.  As a senior state representative, I am guessing that Schroder has a direct line to Harrisburg and the governor.

Back to the Paoli Transportation Center – some would suggest that what goes on in Downingtown has no bearing on Paoli; that these transportation projects are separate and apart.  You know the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, I think that sums up the Paoli Transportation Center project.  How does a community sustain interest in a project, when there appears to be so little forward movement? 

In 1996, the Paoli Rail Yards Task Force composed of representatives from Tredyffrin and Willistown Townships, Chester County, Septa, Amtrak, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the US Environmental Protection Agency, PennDot and elected officials completed a feasibility study that recommended:

  • construction of a new station and associated facilities 800 feet west of the current station;
  • preparation of a conceptual transportation center, access and development plan; and
  • preparation of preliminary development costs and income potential.

Look again at the date of that study, 1996 . . . 15 years ago!  We know that Rome wasn’t built in a day but how many years does it take to build the Paoli Transportation Center?

Last June 2010, there appeared to be a shot in the arm for the Paoli Transportation Center.  Former State Rep Paul Drucker, a staunch supporter of the Paoli transportation project, announced $1 million in state funding from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program for the construction of the Paoli Intermodal Transportation facility and named Strategic Realty Investment as the project’s developer. Through Drucker’s efforts in Harrisburg, there seemed to be a renewed sense of urgency and momentum to build the train station with on-site parking garage and new office and retail space.  Evidenced by the $1 million in state funding, many of us saw this as kick-starting the project that would create jobs and provide economic stimulus for the community.

When Drucker lost his state house re-election bid in November, did the community also lose their most vocal supporter of the Paoli Transportation Center project? During the last 13 months, since the announcement of the $1 million funding, I have not heard of any ‘new’ news on the train station project. We saw the Paoli Transportation Center project used in campaign literature in November and by political candidates in the May primary, but what really has changed in the last 13 months?

Hoping to gain perspective and an update on the Paoli Transportation Center project, I contacted elected officials and supervisor candidates.  The following individuals were contacted for comments:  State Rep Warren Kampf, State Rep Dwayne Milne, Michelle Kichline and John DiBuonaventuro,   (Tredyffrin Twp supervisors and members of the Paoli Rail Yards Task Force) Norm MacQueen (Willistown Twp supervisor) and Tredyffrin Twp supervisor candidates Kristen Mayock, Tory Snyder, Mike Heaberg, Paul Olsen, Murph Wysocki and Molly Duffy.

Understanding my short timeline for responses, coupled with summer vacation and work schedules, I accepted that some of those contacted would be unable to respond.  However, I want to thank those that did take time from their busy summer schedules to offer their comments for Community Matters readers.

As a response for an update on the Paoli Transportation Center, I received the following from State Rep Warren Kampf:

Pattye:

Thank you for your email. I appreciate your concern as a constituent regarding the Paoli Transportation Center.

My recollection is that most of the legislators and County officials support this project. The PennDOT Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) currently has the Paoli Transportation Center (MPMS# 47979 and MPMS #60574) as a priority project and Chester County has this listed at the top of their list.

Every few years the TIP projects are reviewed and that process is again underway. I will continue to advocate for the Paoli Transportation Center. Other communities have needs of course, but I consider Paoli to be a very high priority.

I would caution you or anyone who sees planning or activity on other projects, for example, Downingtown, as somehow linked to the standing of Paoli. The process does not appear to work that way as I understand it. My belief is any work related to Downingtown that would receive State funding would need to go through the TIP process, and I do not see it on the TIP list I have. Further, I presume that the size of that project is far, far smaller than Paoli, so they would logically have different levels of work and funding associated with them, and probably very different timelines.

The Paoli project is moving forward. I am told that both Tredyffrin Township and SEPTA are preparing separate RFPs for road way design needed for the transportation center this summer. Precise timelines, however, are not available. That there is work being done, and the funding needed for that work exists, are good signs in my view.

Warren

Michelle Kichline and John DiBuonaventuro as Tredyffrin Twp supervisors and members of the Paoli Rail Yards Task Force provided the following joint response:

In response to your question about the status of the Paoli Transportation Center, the following is the most recent update:

Both Tredyffrin Township and Septa are about to issue Requests for Proposals for transit and road improvements. all of the work will be grant funded, mostly from federal funds.

SEPTA’s RFP will be for design of the new station and parking garages. Tredyffrin is issuing 2 RFPs : one to lead the public input process and design road improvements associated with the Paoli Transportation Center; and the other for the design of the improvements recommended by the recent feasibility study for the Rt 252/30 intersection. The Township told me that once the RFPs are ready to go out they will be posted on the Township website, along with a project update.

We are assured by Township and County representatives that Paoli remains a top transportation priority for Chester County. It continues to have the support of Federal and State representatives.

If you have any further questions please let us know.

I sent the following question to Tredyffrin Twp supervisor candidates Mike Heaberg, Tory Snyder, Paul Olsen, Kristen Mayock and Murph Wysocki:

Please make a brief statement on the Paoli Transportation Center project. In 200 words or less, please offer your opinion on why the project has lagged for 15+ years, if there is a future for the project and whether or not you support the project. If you support the Paoli Transportation Center project, as a supervisor, what would you do to ensure that it is a priority of the state’s Department of Transportation and receives adequate funding.

Below are responses from Heaberg, Synder, Mayock and Wysocki:

I fully support a new Paoli Transportation Center, built in a way that improves the quality of life of our community and fully protects the interests of Tredyffrin residents.  This project is a top local transportation priority for our federal and state legislators, the DVRPC, PennDOT, SEPTA and Amtrak. 

As a current Supervisor, I have participated in recent planning discussions and at our upcoming meetings the Tredyffrin BOS will consider two Requests for Proposals: 1) a public input process to assure that our community’s voices are heard and 2) design of local road improvements in the Paoli community, including the 30/252 intersection.  Also, SEPTA is preparing a RFP for the design of the new station and parking garages.

We’re making progress…Thank you for your interest in this important project.

Michael Heaberg
Current Supervisor-At-Large
Republican Candidate for Supervisor-At-Large

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It is frustrating to see how slowly the Paoli project is taking, but it is significantly more complicated than a “simple” regional rail station relocation.  The Paoli project is a public/private development on a former superfund site, which required clean-up, a zoning change in two municipalities,  awarding of a contract to a private developer, coordination of two transit agencies (Amtrak and Septa), and juggling of various public funding sources.  We have actually made a huge amount of progress on this complex process, but the devil is in the details and that is where we are  —  waiting for formal submission of plans from the developer and the transit agencies. That said, I believe that at least in Tredyffrin, there have been a number of individuals, some elected, some not, who have been advocates for the Paoli project over the years and have given endless hours of their time to help move the process forward. What I think we have lacked is a united Board of Supervisors in support and as advocates of the project, without which the need for the project probably seems less urgent at the state and federal levels. My goal as Supervisor would be to work to create that united front.

Victoria “Tory” Snyder,
Democratic Candidate for Supervisor, East District

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Paoli has the potential to be a jewel in Tredyffrin.  As someone who uses the Paoli station for travel to Philadelphia and New York and who lives near the station, I strongly support and will advocate for the Paoli train station redevelopment project.

The infrastructure of the station is outdated and dilapidated.  The roads around the station are unsafe and gridlocked.  Lack of parking is a significant contributing cause of failed local businesses.  Tredyffrin has lost out to neighboring townships in attracting new businesses because of the limited usefulness and overall undesirability of the Paoli station.  We cannot afford to continue to do so.  Exactly why the project has lagged is not as important at this juncture as recognizing the progress made in the last few years and keeping the pressure on to advance the project. Tredyffrin has a unique opportunity to transform a run-down station into a vibrant, smart growth transportation center.  Intelligent redevelopment of the Paoli Rail Yard will encourage economic development in the Township, improve local traffic problems, alleviate congestion on local roads and encourage rail travel.

This project is going to happen. Tredyffrin and SEPTA have already put the wheels in motion for transit, station, parking and area road improvements, using mostly federal grants.  I have existing relationships with the Township and State leaders who are active participants in the reinvigoration of this project.  As Supervisor, I will ask to be a member of the Township’s Task Force, making it one of my top priorities.

Kristen Kirk Mayock
Republican Candidate for Supervisor-At-Large
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Tredyffrin’s Opportunity. Some might offer the following reasons for the more than fifteen year tortuous path of the Paoli Transportation Center (Center)—complicated project, numerous governmental and private stakeholders, burdensome procedures, environmental issues, money, developers, and two townships.  I say that this project has suffered from a lack of political will and vision.  The Tredyffrin community would have long been enjoying a completed Center and a vibrant Paoli if Tredyffrin’s governmental leaders had vigorously pursued this important project with vision and leadership.

I fully support the completion of the Paoli Transportation Center.  This project creates jobs, short term and long term.  The Center will revitalize Paoli.  It will help make Paoli a vibrant town center in and for our Tredyffrin community.  The new Paoli will mean an expanded tax base for the Township. 

If elected, I will fight for the completion of the Paoli Transportation Center.  I will work with my fellow supervisors to present a united front in Harrisburg in the pursuit of project priority and funding. I will lobby legislators and other governmental officials, alone and with other stakeholders, relentlessly seeking our  rightful share of funds.  We must seize this opportunity for our Tredyffrin community.

Thank you,

F. Michael “Murph” Wysocki
Democratic Candidate for Supervisor-At-Large

I hope that this offers some perspective on where the Paoli Transportation Center project stands with our elected officials and an indication from supervisor candidates as to what they would do to help the process, should they be elected.  For those unable to respond by today’s deadline, due to work or vacation schedules, I will be glad to add their comments at a later time. 

Also, it is my understanding that there will be an official update on the Paoli Transportation Center project at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.  Looks like  progress and forward movement on the project may be coming this way  . . . .

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