With the countdown underway to the General Election on Tuesday, November 8, I sent an email about a week ago to Tredyffrin Township supervisor candidates and to school board candidates for the Tredyffrin Easttown School District. My email to the candidates was simple; it contained a 3-part question asking the candidates to respond in 200 words or less to the following:
(1) In your opinion, what is the single most important issue facing Tredyffrin Township (or Tredyffrin Easttown School District)
(2) If you were elected, what would you do to help solve or improve this issue?
(3) Tredyffrin Township (or Tredyffrin Easttown School Board) needs problem-solvers; what in your background or job experience qualifies you to help solve this important issue?
In addition to posting their responses to the 3-part question, I offered to include the candidate’s resumes on Community Matters, as I did prior to May’s Primary Election. 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.”
Although my email offer was sent directly to the individual candidates, it was the chair of Tredyffrin Township’s Democratic Party, Dariel Jamieson that responded on behalf of the Democrat supervisor and school board candidates. Dariel’s email on behalf of the candidates, likewise declined the offer to participate but the decision was for a different reason,
“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.
Dariel also suggested that voters could visit the website of the candidates. She apparently does not want the Democratic supervisor and school board candidates to ‘show their cards’ in advance of the debates next week.
I’d be more likely to buy that explanation were it not for a lengthy editorial written by Democrat at-large supervisor candidate Murph Wysocki that appeared in last week’s edition of the Main Line Suburban newspaper, Main Line Media News online and TE Patch online. His editorial describes his background and skill set and what he views are the important issues facing the township; in essence, answering the 3-part question that I posed. This week I see that Democrat supervisor candidates Molly Duffy and Tory Snyder have a joint letter to the editor in the paper in the Main Line Media News. In other words, Dariel’s logic of not wanting to ‘let the cat out of the bag‘ pre-debate is lost on me.
To be fair, I do not know if the Democrat candidates weighed in on this decision or not. In the case of the Republicans, their email was signed by the candidates. As full disclosure, Dariel did offer that the candidates could answer my 3-part question after the debate. I believed that this was a win-win opportunity for candidates (and more importantly, the voters) to respond.
My sole purpose in sending the request to the supervisor and school board candidates was to offer voters an additional resource to ‘know the candidates’ before Election Day — believing that the more informed the voter, the better choice he or she will make. I also saw this as one more opportunity for voters to review the resumes of the candidates before voting.
I want to see our community elect independent-thinking problem solvers and viewed that this exercise could encourage voter turnout on Election Day!
You notice that I talk about the Tredyffrin school board candidates; not the Easttown school board candidates. Easttown resident and TE School Board encumbent Pete Motel (R) is being challenged by Easttown resident Craig Lewis (D).
Because our school district is made of school board members from Tredyffrin and Easttown Townships, I had sent Motel and Lewis the same email with the 3-part question. Motel and Lewis were appreciative of my offer to help inform the voters and have chosen to participate. For the record, Motel and Lewis will also be participating in next week’s school board debates alongside the Tredyffrin school board candidates.
When I sent my emails to the supervisor and school board candidates, I stated I would post their responses in the order they were returned. Therefore, Pete Motel’s response is first, followed by Craig Lewis’ response. Their resumes follow their responses. Although I cannot vote for either Motel or Lewis for school board, I thank them for their participation and understanding the importance of informing voters on the candidates.
Pete Motel (R) — Easttown Township School Board Candidate
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.
Craig Lewis (D) — Easttown Township School Board Candidate
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:
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.
8 CommentsAdd a Comment
I agree and would like to have heard the answers from the candidates. Will this question be asked at the debate? Do you know if they will be recording and showing the debates?
It is my understanding the Monday’s League of Women Voters Tredyffrin supervisor debate will be taped and shown but that Tuesday’s LWV debate for the school board candidates will not be taped. Not sure why the supervisors debate is going to be taped and not the school board. It is really unfortunate that the school board candidates from Tredyffrin did not respond to my question because only the people who attend Tuesday’s debate will hear their responses. As to the questions that the LWV will ask — my guess from own experience 2 years ago, is that a very similar question to what I asked will probably be asked of the candidates. The important issues facing the township and the school district is exactly the type of question that should be asked of the candidates.
Mr. Lewis offers this: “Retirees deserve school tax relief – My opponent never did this, I will.”
Since the PA constitution does not allow unequal taxes, perhaps someone will follow up as to why he would contrast that particular feature of his campaign, and exactly what it is he thinks his opponent should have done. Ask Carole Rubley about this — it’s why tax relief is so difficult to achieve.
I want to know what people will do that is within the framework of serving in the job. Halt “no bid contracts” ….by law all contracts are bid. Mandate relief is actually targeting trying to reduce the complexity to “lowest responsible bidder” for all work done.
You cannot come to this job with provocative ideas but no background. The union is going to want to see what candidates know. So should the voters. Offering ideas requires give and take. I’m certain Mr. Lewis is earnest, but is he famliar with the school code, and has he attended meetings over the years to get a sense of what he is asking? These comments about what’s wrong do not reflect a full understanding of the limitations of being on a board. .
What a dearth of information.
All the 8 Tredyffrin candidates for school board have web sites that do not address any school related issues. All we have is pictures and resumes.
I see that none of the school board candidates have taken a position on the EIT.
Mr. Motel doesn’t mention he was on the board that approved the disastrous teacher contract.
Mr. Lewis points out the looming budget deficit, but proposes solutions that are laughable and won’t come close to addressing the problem.
How are voters going to make an informed decision?
Based on the yellow signs, I guess we know that all the Republican school board candidates oppose EIT. The Republican party chair Mike Broadhurst was clear that it is all Republicans, so there’s no reason that the R candidates should not add their ‘EIT opposition’ to their individual websites. And if the Democrat candidates are taking a ‘wait & see’ until after the tax study group presents its findings, I think that is OK. However, they should make that statement on their individual websites.
I too have looked at all the supervisor and school board candidate websites which is why I decided to send my specific 3-part question then. I wanted to know specifics of not only what the candidates thought was the most important issue facing either the township or school district but . . . of much further value to the voter was exactly what he or she would do to help or correct the problem if they were elected. Flowery rhetoric fills space on political campaign lit pieces and websites, but specifics are far more challenging and requires independent thought. And I believe that if you are willing to make a statement on ‘what you would do if elected’ you should be held accountable for your words.
You are right when you say, “How are voters going to make an informed decision?” Where are we supposed to get the information?
Let’s hope that voters decision doesn’t rest entirely on candidates at their doors — in 28 years, I have only had ‘one’ candidate ever come to my door. And that includes both political parties and all local, county and state candidates. And I’ll give credit to that candidate — it was Republican school board candidate Liz Mercogliano running in Region 2. Both my husband and I have been registered Independents most of our adult lives, so you would think our vote would be courted by both parties.
The district”s architect & outsourced landscaping company both have “no bid contracts”..
I don’t believe that the architect is a contract — but rather services agreements by project. Same as the lawyer I would assume.
The landscaping services I assume is a general bid by several groups as to costs of services, and then it is used.
There is a difference between what can be bid and what cannot be bid as far as a “price” — it has to be apples and apples. I’m not famliar with exactly how schools work, but I have done contracting work for the county and I know which services require unit pricing.
There are also laws about what must be bid as far as I know.
My error..they are “contracted services”..the architect firm has the hourly rates listed and they get a certain % of the projects. ..The landscaping company was the low biddder years ago .