Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Chester County Commission Political Buzz

Gosh, things are buzzing at the Chester County Commission this week! There was the application deadline for the interim County Commissioner position vacated by Carol Aichele, who left for a job in Gov. Corbett’s administration. The deadline was Monday, January 30 at 12 noon – but at the close of business on Friday, there were zero applications received at the Common Pleas Court of Judges.

An article appeared in the Sunday edition of the Daily Local advertising the fact that there were no applications. Apparently, the notice did the trick and created a last-minute crush of interest! By the 12 noon deadline on Monday, there were 39 applications received for the vacancy! Upon review, six were removed from consideration because the applicants were Democrats and the appointment will go to a Republican. Although the judges hope to shorten the list, it looks like the interview process is going to be quite the undertaking!

Another item out of the County Commissioner’s Office. . . there is some unsettling news circulating about Republican Commissioner Terrance Farrell’s re-election campaign. This past November, he held a kick-off fundraiser, “A Pint of Chester County” for his campaign. The emailed invitation encouraged recipients to become sponsors with a suggested donation range of $250 – $2,500. When I received Farrell’s invitation, I found it curious that I was on his email list. Never having donated to Farrell and not knowing how they had my address, I emailed Farrell’s campaign but never received a response.

Today, I learned that my receiving Farrell’s email invitation was not an anomaly and some people are none too pleased, including State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-Chester). Farrell’s fundraising email invitation was sent to government and personal email addresses, including Sen. Dinniman. Farrell emailed the fundraiser invitation to Sen. Dinniman’s district office.

Senator Dinniman’s staff sent Mr. Farrell’s campaign a letter stating that he was allowed to send political mail to a state senate office. Dinniman reported that his office received complaints by at least three other individuals, all Democrats complaining that Farrell had sent them the fundraising invitation to personal email accounts. Farrell’s response to accusations of misusing emails for his re-election campaign — he was just keeping his constituents informed. Whoops!

Things are really getting interesting for county races . . . from DA candidates to the Common Pleas Judge candidates and now the news about the County Commissioner candidates. It will be curious how the hyperbole plays out at the County Republican Convention on February 15.

Speaking of politics . . . so, you think you know where you stand, politically speaking? Think again. A friend sent me this short test and the results may surprise and give you food for thought. You will be asked just 10 questions, and it instantly tells you where you stand politically.

The results will show your position as a red dot on a “political map” so you will see exactly where you score. The most interesting thing about the quiz is that it beyond the Democrat, Republican, and Independent.

The Quiz has gotten a lot of praise . . . The Washington Post said it has “gained respect as a valid measure of a person’s political leanings.” The Fraser Institute said it’s a “fast, fun and accurate assessment of a person’s overall political views”. Suite University said it is the “most concise and accurate
political quiz out there.”

I took the test and was not surprised to score a ‘Centrist’ label for my efforts. According to the Quiz website, . . . “a Centrist prefer a ‘middle ground’ regarding government control of the economy and personal behavior. Depending on the issue, they sometimes favor government intervention and sometimes support individual freedom of choice. Centrists pride themselves on keeping an open mind, tend to oppose “political extremes,” and emphasize what they describe as “practical” solutions to problems”.

Take the Quiz — it’s fun and will not take you more than 5 min. It would be great if you would share your results! Here is the link for the Quiz:

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  1. Pattye —

    I think you may be overblowng the Farrell thing, and that Senator Dinniman may, in fact, be playing politics.

    i, too, received the e-mail. It was not sent from a government email, so Farrell did nothing wrong there.

    Further, i — or you, or anyone else — can go buy email lists which will include personal emails. Campaigns and political parties on both sides of the aisle do it all the time. That is why I get junk email I don’t want — and why I unsubscribe at the bottom of those emails.

    Senator Dinniman is incorrect — you CAN send political emails to a state office, provided it is not a political email discussing that member’s campaign, campaign efforts, etc.. You CANOT send them out of a state office, no matter what the subject.

    Basically, it is an issue of control — those receiving cannot control what is sent and therefore cannot be held accountable. The Senator may have an office policy about such things, but until a sender is made aware of that policy both parties are in the clear.

    As to other contacts, i am sure that the Commissioner builds a large contact list in his dealings and may be using information collected in those dealings as well. Not sure on the legalities there.

  2. From the West begins the political spin for Farrell”s race for county commissioner…

    He may have broken no laws by sending fundraising emails far and wide, but voters will soon begin to focus on the man’s lighweight credentials and track record as commissioner. Joined at the hip and ushered into office with the now departed (to Harrisburg) Carol Aichele, Farrell and Aichele’s involvement in the 2008 voting discrimination debacle will be black mark that will loom large when he runs for re-election.

    (Note that Commissioner Kathi Cozzone disagreed with her colleagues and supported moving the poll location back to Lincoln University in time for the 2008 election.)

    This article appears on the Public interest Law Center of Philadelphia website:


    August 10, 2010 – Lincoln University students and Chester County residents have settled their federal lawsuit in which they alleged that the Chester County Board of Elections and Department of Voter Services deprived African-Americans in Lower Oxford East Township of their right to vote by assigning them to inconvenient and inadequate polling facilities. On Election Day 2008, hundreds of Lower Oxford East voters – most of them African-American – waited up to seven hours in the pouring rain to cast their votes. Those who were unable to wait left without voting.

    “The voting process in the 2008 presidential election was a frustrating and time consuming process. With the changes coming, residents and students will have adequate facilities and a better experience,” said Wanda Havelow, who waited six hours in the rain next to active train tracks to vote.
    Read more about the filing of the case here.

    “The Chester County Commissioner twice refused to move the Lower Oxford East polling location to Lincoln University because they wanted to deter African American students from voting. Under pressure of a lawsuit, they have now agreed to stop interfering with this basic American right. It is tragic that so many people were prevented from voting or inconvenienced by the County Commissioner playing politics with voting rights,” said Michael Churchill, an attorney with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.

    As part of the settlement, the Board of Elections has agreed to return the Lower Oxford East polling place to the Lincoln University campus, where it had been in the 1990s. The County will notify all Lower Oxford East voters of the change in polling location. The County will seek to transfer a portion of Lower Oxford East north of Baltimore Pike to Lower Oxford West. Voters affected by that change will also be notified by mail that they will continue to vote at the Township Building. The federal court will retain jurisdiction over issues relating to the Lower Oxford East polling place through the 2012 presidential election, allowing plaintiffs to return quickly to the same judge if problems with the settlement arise.

    ”All people in this country have a chance to voice their opinion through the vote. Government with all of it responsibilities to the people should never demonstrate such little regard for the process that give people a sense of being free to have their voices heard,” said Golden English, who had taken the day off work to vote but left before casting a ballot in order to babysit his granddaughter.

    The plaintiffs are represented pro bono by Phil Wilson, John E. McKeever and Nicole Edwards of DLA Piper LLP (US); and by Michael Churchill of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia; Mary Catherine Roper of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania; Bryan Sells of the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project; and Marian Schneider, Esq., a Chester County lawyer, election integrity and voting rights advocate.

      1. Flyersfan says: “all should have a right to vote except if you are in the military and are overseas”

        WTF???? Flyersfan, are you advocating the disenfranchisement of those servicemen and servicewomen who are risking their lives overseas to protect your freedoms. . .including your right to vote? WTF????


        As for the Terence Farrell thing: Who cares if you get e-mails from him? Obviously people have nothing left to complain about and are really scraping the barrel by taking issue with receiving an occasional fundraiser e-mail from him.

        I periodically receive fundraiser e-mails from Democratic candidates from outside my voting districts. I am a Republican and don’t know how I got on their e-mail distribution lists. However, unlike alot of whiney people on this blog, these Democratic Party e-mails don’t bother me in the least. I simply hit delete (Geee, now that was really hard to do).

        1. Thanks Mr. R. I agree — this nonsense about getting unwanted emails….please. Hit Delete.
          If people’s emails looked just like their name, I could understand complaining…but emails can be anything and why bother to review a list since we have so many names that no one could connect to a person.

          I think FF was making fun of the fact that so few found serious problems with the disenfranchisement of those groups….

        2. Mr Robot,
          There are possibly two things here that could be happening… First, you did not read my sarcasm in my entry, which I forgive you for because that is impossible on the internet, or two.. you are not aware of current events.
          So WTF… catch up on recent history, like the election of 2010 before you spew WTF’s all over this board.
          WTF indeed

    1. Kate —

      I am not politicking for Farrell. All i did was point out that we shouldn’t make a bigger issue out of things than they actually are.

      As for credentials, the voting issue, etc., they are all for legitimate discussion.

      1. I agree that we don’t need to make too much of an issue that is not a violation of campaign rules. Farrell’s decision to email far and wide in search of early campaign contributions probably annoyed more voters than it inspired them to send a check or attend a fundraising event.

        My point was and is that there is a much more important reason to examine this man’s fitness to serve as a county commissioner.

        Farrell’s decsion to deny multiple requests to move a poll to a safe and adequately sized location shows a lack of good judgment and suggests a partisan motive. He knew it would likely cause voters in a presidential election year to stand in long lines- along a railroad track, no less . He was aware of the large Democratic Party affiliation among the voters in the precinct, many of whom were Lincoln University students. That Farrell was named as a defendant in the inital lawsuit filed by a group of civil rights lawyers is further evidence of his involvement.

        As the man puts forward his case for re-election, voters need to keep this unfortunate incident in mind.

  3. Voting discrimination charges lodged at the only black commissioner seem somewhat politically motivated.

  4. I know several people who have received these email and the only way he could have gotten those emails was from the county data base. They had contacted the commissioners office as well as a few departments about constituent issues.
    It’s improper to send campaign emails to your constituents without their consent.

    If this isn’t illegal, it’s certainly immoral. Kathi Cozzone should take the lead and change any policy they have that has not caught up with todays technology. If Cozzone had done this the Republicans would be all over her.

    No, it’s not ok to do this.

    And you have to admit that any Rep or Dem candidate that would send campaign fundraising emails to state offices of the opposite party is just plain stupid.

    1. Can’t disagree with the “just plain stupid” part or the fact that there may not be proper policies in place. But that was sort of my point — the guy is being attacked for something that is not wrong under any policy. And yes, he should have known better.

      I can’t agree with the “only way” he could get those emails was from the county…emails come from a lot of places, including purchased lists. Until someone offers proof, I am unwilling to throw anyone (of either party) under the bus for something I cant prove.

  5. I was also surprised to score as a Centrist (though on the left side of the Center square). But I’d like more options on most of the questions. What kind of drugs are they talking about? A draft for what purpose? etc.

    I also receive Mr. Farrell’s emails–but in my case it’s because I actually signed up to see what he was saying as one of our Commissioners. Mostly about pints so far, it seems. if he wanted to share some political points (as opposed to pints), e.g., on the Lincoln University voting snafu or his takeover of the ChesCo Christmas display, that would be interesting.

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