Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Tredyffrin's Board of Supervisors – Some are Political Party Committee Members – is this OK? Radnor Township Says No for their Commissioners

Tredyffrin Township is governed by Home Rule Charter, and you can find a copy on the township website, With a new year, and 3 new supervisors on Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors, I was curious about something. When someone is a committee person for a political party and is elected to serve their community, I wondered how this subject was handled under Home Rule Charter (or was it even addressed). From my vantage point, supervisors are elected to serve all the residents, and by remaining a committee person for a particular party, I would think that there is an appearance that a political committee person would ‘lean’ in the direction of their party. Of the 7 members of Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors, we now have 3 supervisors who are also Tredyffrin Township GOP committee members (Kampf, Kichline, Richter). I think that Supervisor Kampf is also a PA State GOP committee member – but I’m not 100%.

I checked Tredyffrin Township’s Home Rule Charter and this subject is not addressed. So I looked to our neighbor, Radnor Township who also uses Home Rule Charter for their local government. I guess the residents of Radnor Township share my concern with political party committee people serving in elected positions, as they are very clear in their Home Rule Charter. Radnor Commissioners are prohibited from holding an elected or appointed political office. The information below is cut and pasted directly from Radnor’s Home Rule Charter. Reviewing Radnor’s regulations on elected officials holding political party office, I was also interested in their ‘Conflict of Interest’ section (also included below). Reading this, I am wondering if Radnor Township’s Commissioners would have been permitted (under their ‘Home Rule Charter’) to solicit to businesses on behalf of Radnor Fire Company? Interesting question, don’t you think?

From Radnor Township’s Home Rule Charter

§ 21.9-904. Prohibitions.

A. The activities which follow shall be prohibited in the operation of the Township government.

1. Discrimination. No person shall, in his employment by the Township in any capacity, appointment to any Board, Commission, or Authority, or removal therefrom, be favored or discriminated against because of age, race, national origin, sex, handicap, or political or religious opinions or affiliations in violation of applicable Federal or State laws. No person shall be accorded favored treatment in employment or appointment because of family relationship.

2. Improper Gifts. No person who seeks appointment on any Township Board, Commission, or Authority, or employment by the Township in any capacity shall, directly or indirectly, give or pay any money, service, or other consideration to any person in connection with such appointment or employment. In addition, no elected or appointed Township official or employee shall receive any money, service or other consideration in connection with such appointment or employment.

3. Political Party Office. No Township official elected under this Charter, no appointed official, and no full-time Township employee shall hold any elected or appointed political party office.

4. Improper Political Influence. No elected or appointed Township official and no employee of the Township shall request any Township employee to make a political contribution or engage in political activity.

5. Other Government Service. No Township official elected or appointed to an elective office under this Charter and no full-time Township employee shall hold any other Township employment or any other elective or appointive Township position. No Township official elected or appointed to an elective office under this Charter and no full-time Township employee shall hold any full-time employment, or any other elective position, with Delaware County or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This provision shall not apply to employees of School Districts or of other educational institutions.

B. Violation of any provision of this Section shall constitute grounds for forfeiture of office, termination of appointment, or dismissal.

§ 21.9-905. Conflict of Interest.

A. No elected or appointed official of the Township and no Township employee, shall engage in any activity which follows.

l. Take any action as a result of information acquired as a Township official from which action the Township official or employee or any other person or entity in whose welfare the official is interested, shall realize a gain or advantage. Such action shall not, however, be construed to be prohibited if the gain or advantage were realized generally by a group or class of citizens as the purposeful result of such action.

2. Solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any gift, favor, service commission, or other consideration that might reasonably tend to influence that official or employee in the discharge of the duties of office.

3. Seek to influence, directly or indirectly, the awarding of any contract where such Township official or employee, or other person or entity in whose welfare the official or employee is interested would benefit directly or indirectly, financially or otherwise, from said contract.

B. Disqualification from Action. Any elected or appointed official and any employee of the Township, having a direct or indirect financial interest with any person or business entity proposing to contract with the Township for the purchase or sale of land, materials, supplies, or services of any kind, or seeking formal action of the Board or any petition application, request, or appeal, whether that interest be as an employee, a party, a partner, or a stockholder, shall disclose fully said interest and except where stock holdings in a public corporation shall be minimal, shall not participate in the discussion or formal action relating thereto. Violation of the provisions of this Section shall render the contract of such actions voidable by the Township.

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  1. It’s not clear whether anything would change in Tredyffrin if our supervisors were required to resign from their positions as voting members of their local political parties (Committeepersons are the only voting members) .

    Nothing can stop supervisors from affiliating with a politcal part.y

    No provisions in a Home Rule Charter can stop them from being influenced by party officials.

    The responsibility they have to represent all residents in the community will not prevent individual supervisors from making decisions and voting based on their own ideological leanings.

    And what constitutes ethical conduct will always be open to interpretation.

    Even so, I think it makes sense to require supervisors once elected, to resign from their positions as committeepeople.

    I’m thinking about the motivations of one in particular who has higher political aspirations of his own and is carrying water for the local, county and state Republican parties. To stand at the polls and promote oneself for one office while holding at least two others is in conflict with the job of a committeeperson and vice versa.

    As John suggests, requiring supervisors to resign their posts as committeepeople will not put an end to the backroom shenanigans, improper use of influence or partisan activity that ignores the community’s best interests.

    But it’s a start.

  2. John
    Aren’t members of the local “committees” elected? If so, then voters surely have the right to remove them, or not elect them subsequently to other jobs?
    I think it’s dangerous to presume any actions on the part of the new supervisors — and am offended that you would mention the two women new to the BOS, along with several other women on boards as your concern. (Yes you talk about the KOL, but that’s based on your assessment of them in the job).
    One thing that will reduce or eliminate problems is for voters to pay attention to the issues of government, not just to the scandals. The power of incumbency here is somewhat overwhelming, but that’s mostly because no one wants the job, and if you are willing to step up for it, you encounter countless personal attacks and citizen journalists like all of us second guessing your motives and political ideology. Shouldn’t we give voters credit (or blame) for understanding ideologies before they vote? Your comments about what you think about EJR and MK are really a step over a line. Those two women and PD were elected to the job. They ran campaigns just like their opponents, and in a time when our area had most recently turned in favor of the Democratic party in some other elections. ??
    As to your conclusion that KOL do not have any ethics — that is hyperbole at its extreme, since ethics are nothing more than a system of moral principles, and you do not have to agree with their ethics for them to exist. I think their ethical principles are patriarchal in nature — they believe Tredyffrin township is theirs to take care of and to run. They know best.
    I know that you have a long history of commenting on the townshi and have been a good citizen journalist. To simply take shots at the efforts of or to project values onto those you don’t know or prefer is simply the other side of a presumptuous BOS majority — it’s caustic without being constructive. If the TTRC and all its appointees are inbread, then we need to change it, not undermine it.

  3. Thanks for this posting. I moved here from Boston a few years ago and I am just starting to really understand how local politics work in this township.The public can see what is happening, they could have made better choices in the last election but no its same old, same old. So disappointing. Why don’t people do something? John, you have it right on this one.

  4. If you’re unhappy with your committee member, run against him/her. It only takes 10 signatures on a petition to file it and run in the primary. Check w/voter services in West Chester to find out the filing dates. Granted you may have an uphill battle, but stranger things have happened. And once elected you may find the balance of the committee doesn’t share your views & you’re in the minority.

    P.S. The Tredyffrin Supervisors are elected; the commission members are appointed.

  5. John Why don’t you give E.J. And Phil a chance before you start putting labels on them? For better or worse, (I think better) the voters gave them the nod last November to represent us on the BOS. I happen to know E.J. personally and I can tell you she will be nobody’s puppet. The fact that she may vote right on most issues is what she told the voters when she campaigned AND it is what they generally will expect from her. Whether or not she is a committee member of the TTRC won’t and shouldn’t change a thing. If it were democrats in this same position, I suspect that we wouldn’t be having this discussion. That being said, I think some on this blog should just come clean and admit that they are just unhappy with the election results from November. Lastly, I cringe with the thought of what these boards will look like come the end of this November. Jim Bailey. Committeeman M-4

  6. John, I consider Eamon and his family friends. I personally think he would do a great job on the board and I hope he considers another run. So , from that, I hope your question is answered. There are a lot of good republicans on the TTRC and we all are doing what we think is best for our community. We are passionate, like you. I am new to local politics and the TTRC and have a lot to learn. I believe I am open minded and hope never to be “part of the problem”. John, if I ever am, I hope you will let me know. Anyway, whether or not our township is the “Gold standard” is not the point. The truth is that T/E with it’s schools, culture, people and government is a pretty nice place to call home. I hope you agree…………..

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