When you turned the calendar to 2018, you probably thought that Election Day 2017 was finally in the rear view mirror. Not so in Easttown Township. Although the election results are in, the township finds itself looking for a replacement supervisor.
On Election Day, Easttown Township residents were voting for two supervisors – four candidates appeared on the ballot, two Republicans and two Democrats. When the votes were counted, incumbent Betsy Fadem (R) received the most votes, followed by Brandon Adams (D). Michael Wacey (D) received the third highest and Fred Pioggia (R) the fourth highest number of votes. The supervisor seats went to the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes – in this case, Fadem and Adams.
With the New Year, Fadem continues to serve on the board of supervisors with Adams set to begin his first term. That is, until the residents learned Brandon Adams cannot serve – apparently his employer was acquired by a company (since the election?) that prohibits his serving in local government.
This is an unusual situation and there does not appear to be an automatic process to fill the vacancy. Although there isn’t an automatic process, wouldn’t it just make sense for the vacancy to go to the person whom received the third highest number of votes, which in this case was Michael Wacey. Both Democrats, it would seem a reasonable solution for Wacey to step in as supervisor for vacating Brandon Adams. Of course, that solution is only viable if Michael Wacey was available and willing to serve but according to the agenda from the January 2 meeting of the Board of Supervisors he is.
Wacey read the following statement at the January 2, 2018 meeting which was provided to the township in advance:
My name is Michael Wacey and I live at Beaumont Road, Berwyn. I want to thank the Easttown Board of Supervisors for all the time and careful thought that they put into their work. We are very lucky to have this Board to manage the affairs for our township. In the fall, I ran for Easttown Township Supervisor and came in Third. Ms. Betsy Fadem, an incumbent appointed Supervisor, came in first and Mr. Brandon Adams came in second. Mr. Adams will most likely resign on January second rather than take the office. He is doing this for personal reasons beyond his control. As the third-place finisher in November, the citizens of Easttown would reasonable expect this board to appoint met to fill the vacancy. The board has met with Mr. Adams. I have express to the board, in writing, my desire to serve the people of Easttown. As I see it, the board has three options in 15 days: 1) Appoint me in recognition of the wishes of the Easttown voters; 2) Appoint someone else such as Mr. Pioggia, the four-place candidate in November. Or someone who did not run; 3) Ignore the voters and conduct a search and appoint someone who did not run in November. As this directly affects me, I am here tonight to ask the board to let the citizens of Easttown know what the Board plans are.
The day following the meeting, on January 3, 2018, the vacancy on the Board of Supervisors was posted on the township website as follows:
Easttown Township seeks applicants for consideration of appointment to the Board of Supervisors. The term for this appointment is for two years, expiring on December 31, 2019. Interested residents should send a letter of interest/resume to Township Manager, Dan Fox, via email by end of business day on Wednesday, January 10, 2018.
The process for how the township would fill the supervisor vacancy was not obvious from the press release (above) on the township website. However, if you look at the meeting agenda of January 2, you find the following explanation of the selection process to fill the supervisor vacancy by Easttown Township Board of Supervisor Chairman James Oram :
The Board vacancy occurs if the elected official, Mr. Adams, announces his intention not to serve at the Board meeting on January 2, 2018. If this vacancy does occur, the Township will begin accepting resumes from interested candidates for one month beginning on January 3, 2018. If the Board cannot agree on an appointment for this vacancy, a fifth vote will be cast by the member of the Vacancy Committee.
According to the notice on the township website, today, January 10, 2018, is the last day to receive applications for the supervisor vacancy.
I know that the four remaining members of the Easttown Township Board of Supervisors are trying to do the right thing, especially given that the selection process to fill the vacancy is not automatic. However, here’s my vote to keep it simple and drama-free by appointing Michael Wacey as the replacement supervisor. Wacey received the third highest number of votes in November and has stated that he is willing to serve. This should be an easy, uncomplicated decision.
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“(since the election?)”
Well before the election. He did not campaign. Won anyway.
By the way, is it really so obvious that automatically awarding the job to the third-place finisher is more democratic than letting four supervisors, all of whom were actual winners, choose from among applicants? Whether it’s Wacey or someone else, the four supervisors are accountable for the decision.
Let’s be honest. If Michael Wacey were a Republican, he’d have been appointed by now. But Easttown’s all-Republican Board of Supervisors have decided to use this unfortunate situation as an opportunity to keep Easttown a one-party town(ship). By disregarding the number of constituents who voted for Democrats last November, they are ignoring the will of the people. Chris Polites, who is up for election in 2019, and Marc Heppe and James Oram, both up for election in 2021, can avoid the inevitable voter backlash when they run for re-election by doing the right thing now and installing Michael Wacey at the next BOS meeting.
I am not sure how you can say –“Easttown’s all-Republican Board of Supervisors have decided to use this unfortunate situation as an opportunity to keep Easttown a one-party town(ship).” The outcome has not yet been determined.
Without an automatic process, Easttown’s current Board of Supervisors made the decision to open up the process to fill the supervisor vacancy. The application process has closed and, to my knowledge, the public has not been told how many letters of interest were received or by whom. Without an automatic process, the supervisors decided on this approach. However — as I said in my post, the end result should now be that the supervisors come together and unanimously vote for the candidate with the third highest number of votes, Michael Wacey. Wacey earlier sent in his letter of interest and also presented the information at the January 2 Board of Supervisors meeting that he is willing to serve.
Until I find out otherwise, I am going to believe in the Easttown Board of Supervisors — and that they will do the right thing and appoint Michael Wacey. It should not matter whether that person is an ‘R’, ‘D’ or ‘I’, or what the current political make-up is of the Board of Supervisors — the vacancy should be filled by the candidate who received the third highest number of votes.
I am a registered R living in Easttown Township and I voted in this election. Although I am not vocal and I don’t attend township meetings, I keep up on the issues and decisions made by my local representatives. I think they’ve done a great job!
I agree with Kathleen and Pattye. The vacancy should be filled by the candidate who received the third highest number of votes.
I have received many texts, e-mails and phone calls from friends living in Tredyffrin asking for my support.
I support Michael Wacy for the Supervisor position in Easttown Township.
I beg to differ with those who think Mr Wacey should automatically be chosen.
The Easttown Board is vested with the decision to select the candidate that will best serve the Township’s stakeholders. Though I do not know Mr. Wacey, their invitation to apply for service and interview process may surface a candidate who is far more skilled, experienced, and/or qualified to serve than Mr. Wacey. They should select the best candidate, period. That’s the Board’s job, by law.
Btw, Tredyffrin has gone through a similar application and interview process a couple of times in recent years to fill Board vacancies.
Unlike Tredyffrin Township which had a process for handling a supervisor vacancy, the problem is that Easttown Township does not have an automatic process. As I understand it, Brandon Adams was not sworn in and technically was not a supervisor. Adams found out he would not be able to serve (due to his employer) in advance of the November election but too late to have his name removed from the ballot. To have his name off the ballot, there is an August deadline. As I understand it, Adams notified that he would be unable to serve prior to election day. I say that the voters should have the right to decide — and in the order of the vote count, the supervisor vacancy should be filled by Michael Wacey. If Easttown Township wants to prevent something similar from happening in the future, they should come up with language which handles a supervisor vacancy.
I believe the law tells all townships how to fill a vacancy:
Section 407. Vacancies in General.–(a) If the electors of any township fail to choose a supervisor, tax collector or auditor, or if any person elected to any office fails to serve in the office, or if a vacancy occurs in the office by death, resignation under subsection (b), removal from the township or otherwise, the board of supervisors may appoint a successor who is a registered elector of the township and has resided in that township continuously for at least one year prior to their appointment.
Interesting, thanks Keith. OK, I guess this is how it works — Easttown Twp says it doesn’t have an automatic process to fill the vacancy. But what that means is that its not automatic to appoint the person with the third highest vote count. That is the ‘automatic process’ that is referenced.
The BOS can appoint whomever they want within the law. A Republican was elected and the BOS is well within its right to appoint an Republican. In fact, it’s the most appropriate thing to do in this circumstance because each party only had 2 candidates. If Mr. Wacey was that compelling of a candidate, he would have finished first or second. There will be a special election for this seat that will give voters an opportunity elect a candidate to fill the term. In the meantime, Mr. Wacey should submit is application and give the BOS an opportunity to act. Not a shock that once again, TTDEM’s chair Keohane puts the cart before the horse and goes down the conspiracy path. If the shoe were on the other foot, you can bet she’d not support a D appointing an R.