Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Election Day 2019

T/E School Board Candidate Question #4: WHY Should We Vote for YOU?

The days are counting down to Election Day on Tuesday, November 5. There are 10 school board candidates for the T/E School Board and 6 seats available — do you know who you are voting for?

The saga of the elusive correction of the District’s $1.2 million accounting error continues. On my Community Matters post from yesterday I included the October 16 letter from Edward Furman, CPA from Maillie LLP which details their position. The Furman letter was subsequently added to the District website, ,although not easy to find.

It has been 4+ months since the school board vote of June 11 which directed the District to correct the District audits and Annual Financial Reports for 2016/17 yr and 2017/18 yr with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Based on the Furman letter, it is obvious that as of October 16, the business manager has not moved the process forward.

Given this recent information from the auditor leaves the public with more questions than answers about the District’s financial management. As a result, the upcoming election of 6 school board directors takes on increased importance!

I thank and appreciate that all 10 T/E School Board candidates (and earlier, the 8 Tredyffrin Township and 4 Easttown Township supervisor candidates) responded to my questions and hope that voters take the time to read them!

It is appropriate that the fourth and final question which I asked the school board candidates is as follows.

Question #4: What differentiates you from the other candidates and /or board member? Why should you be elected or re-elected?!

Doug Anestad Response:

One of the biggest things that differentiates me from the other candidates is my experience in both the private sector and the education field. I was in the technology field for a decade before being a public-school teacher for a decade. I have since returned to the private sector for the last six years. This diverse experience allows me to see issues from both sides.

The other thing that differentiates me is my history of speaking out for the parents and the community and trying to give them a real voice. If elected, I will not automatically think that everything the administration does can’t be improved.

I will do everything I can to give the parents and the community a real voice. This includes having them be members of committees and asking follow-up questions from the public instead of letting them speak and then ignoring their suggestions.

Michele Burger Response:

As a 21 year resident and parent of 3 district graduates, I have had the privilege of serving my community in various capacities, working in a non-partisan way to preserve the excellent public education that makes our community a desirable place to live, work, and raise a family. If re-elected, I’m planning for the future by advocating for an independent financial advisor, conducting a comprehensive evaluation of ALL district infrastructure, and supporting reading instruction based on “the science of reading” with data-driven interventions. My accomplishments to date:

  • Controlled wasteful spending (e.g. protecting taxpayers’ investment by saving $1.2 million on the security camera system without compromising student/staff safety)
  • Gathered community/expert input PRIOR to making decisions
  • Moved committee meetings to evenings
  • Held Open House regarding proposed high school expansion
  • Healthier start times
  • Air conditioning for elementary schools
  • Laptops for 7-12 grades

BUT, there’s more work to be done!

Roberta Hotinski Response:

I have spent my entire professional life working in science and higher education environments. I have served on the Board for four years, as education chair since January 2018. I have advocated for the following changes and helped make them a reality:

  • Healthier school start times
  • The Conestoga high school expansion
  • Elementary school air conditioning
  • Laptops for students in grades 7-12
  • Increased transparency through preservation of Board documents on the web (previously maintained for only 1 year)

During that time I’ve also been involved in the negotiation of three district contracts that were concluded with no disruption to the district. I’m an experienced leader who studies the issues and listens to the voices of all stakeholders, and I would be honored to serve another 4 years as a director for Region 1.

Mary Garrett Itin Response:

As a licensed social worker, I bring a unique set of skills to the School Board. I am passionate about improving student wellness and safety. Suicide is the second leading cause of death of youth ages 10-24. Over 20% of children and adolescents in the United States experience mental health challenges impacting their academic success, functioning, and relationships. Oftentimes our students who are doing the best are struggling and don’t want to let us know. Through my work, we have added explicit goals related to student’s social-emotional learning and mental health into the District Goals. I am a skilled facilitator and trainer, and I have 15-years of experience working in difficult situations where trust, accountability, and transparency are challenged and developing collaboration. We can provide education excellence for ALL of our students and improve our budget process.

Todd Kantorczyk Response:

Each current Board member brings unique strengths and perspectives to this role based on individual experiences and views. But one thing I have learned during my first term is that while from time to time I may disagree with individual Board members on a question, we all share a commitment to public education in our community. This job requires the dedication of many hours, not just in meetings, but also outside of meetings reviewing materials and preparing to be able to make important decisions that affect our entire community—all on a volunteer basis. Regarding the question as to why I should be re-elected, as an unopposed incumbent, I would say that over the past four years I have dedicated the time and energy to do this job and maintain the high standards for our public schools that our community deserves, and I am prepared to do it again.

Nicholas Lee Response:

I offer a unique perspective as an educator without any personal ties to the T/E School District administration or teachers union. I studied at the Peabody School of Education at Vanderbilt University and at Saint Louis University’s graduate School of Education. I believe a healthy TE School Board should have a limited number of experienced educators on its team, but I also believe that the majority of these educators should not have a history teaching in or administering in TE schools. As a private school educator in Wilmington, DE, I bring knowledge and expertise concerning the educational needs of today’s students and families, as well as an understanding of the demands and strains on current teachers.

Kate Murphy Response:

My voting record demonstrates areas where I’ve differed from others. First, delayed start times. I liked the idea but wanted to hold off while we studied the options and carefully weighed the costs against the benefits. Second, the proposed literacy committee. I thought the committee would be a good mechanism for educating parents and taxpayers, supporting teachers in their work, and helping kids. Third, the budget. After lengthy discussion of the delayed payment of invoices and the troubling history of projected deficits and actual surpluses, I lost confidence in the budget process. I advocated for a tax increase consistent with the cost of living adjustment. I’m proud of these votes but even more proud of the work that went into them: studying the issues; discussing them with board members, administrators, and community members; and carefully weighing the options. If re-elected, I’ll keep pushing for what’s best, even against resistance.

Stacy Stone Response:

With reading specialist, special education instruction and supervision, and Deaf education certifications as well as Wilson Reading System training, along with more than thirty years of experience as a teacher, supervisor, and consultant in public, private, and parochial schools in Pennsylvania and Illinois, I will bring a broad view of education to the board. Specifically, my background and experience make me uniquely qualified to advocate for and monitor the provision of literacy instruction that includes systematic, explicit phonological awareness and phonics instruction in K-2 classrooms in T/E. Finally, as a 33-year Tredyffrin resident and parent of two grown children who attended T/E schools, I understand parents’ concerns and will keep them in mind as I work hard to preserve and improve our district’s educational programs and services to prepare ALL of our students for the future.

Ed Sweeney Response:

For the past four years, I have had success as a challenging and reforming yet more conservative voice on the Board. TE needs to lower our yearly tax rate and have financial accountability, real time financial reporting, and partner with parents. My record shows that I have tried hard to effectuate these needed changes. I will take a minority position if it makes a necessary point that makes the community think more deeply on an issue. I have been successful at working to find the votes for a middle ground position.

My vision as a TE School Director to maintain and improve the high quality of our School District is: (1) be a world class school district that prepares our students for College and life and (2) maintain an affordable community where middle class voters, single income families, and retirees can live without being taxed out of the district.

Sue Tiede Response:

I have spent my entire professional career in education. As a teacher, school counselor, elementary principal and district-level administrator I have had the privilege and the responsibility of working with children, parents, teachers and community members to provide students with an unrivaled public-school education experience. As a proud parent of three Conestoga graduates and the grandparent of five young students who live in the T/E District, I am deeply invested in ensuring our first-rate schools continue to be the cornerstone of this vibrant community in which we live.

Tredyffrin Township Supervisor Candidate Question #1: Zoning

Starting today for the next four days, is a daily question which was presented to the Tredyffrin Township supervisor candidates. All eight supervisor candidates responded and their responses will follow the question in alphabetical order according to last name. Here is the reminder of the candidates running for the Board of Supervisors – voters will select one district supervisor from the East, one district supervisor from the West and two At-Large supervisors.

Julie Gosse (D)
Raffi Terzian (R)

Mark Freed (D)
Sharon Humble (D)
Gina Mazzulla (R)
Liz Mercogliano (R)

K. S. Bhaskar (D)
Peter DiLullo (R)


Question #1:  If you could change one thing in the Tredyffrin Township zoning code or township ordinances, what would it be and why?

K. S. Bhaskar Response:

I would change the regulations to reduce the maximum permissible housing density. While multi-family residential structures like apartment buildings are appropriate, and we want Tredyffrin to be a welcoming community to one and all, excessive housing density adversely affects our quality of life in ways such as exacerbating traffic (which in turn adversely impacts the timeliness of emergency services) and adding to overcrowding in our schools. In our transition from villages to suburbs, change is inevitable. But change must be managed rather than allowed to run roughshod over us.

Peter DiLullo Response:

The first thing that comes to mind is that the Board of Supervisors should have final approval of any land development plans.  This responsibility should not be relegated to an appointed volunteer planning commission.

Mark Freed Response:

It is difficult to pick a single issue, as I am regularly considering changes to many provisions of the Township Code (e.g., sign requirements, assisted living facilities, development, stormwater, historic preservation).  If required to pick just one, I would choose stormwater.  We are in a period of sustained increased rainfall.  These events have exposed gaps in stormwater management throughout the Township and the region.  The solution to many of these problems are capital improvements, which the Township has and will continue to undertake.  However, the Township is also evaluating ways that the ordinance can be improved to address these issues.  This is why I supported the creation of a Citizens Stormwater Advisory Task Force to review the Township’s stormwater management requirements and to make recommendations on how to improve these requirements.

Julie Gosse Response:

The current zoning code is tilted toward growth over sustainability, and I am in favor of amending it to limit negative impact on our strained shared resources. A reasonable starting point is to address the construction of new assisted living facilities that would encroach on our residential neighborhoods. We can do this by: (1) removing assisted living facilities from C-1 zoning districts altogether or (2) only allowing them in specific C-1 areas (e.g., on a major arterial highway). In addition to changing the character of a neighborhood, assisted living facilities create increased call volume for our already-strained fire companies. Beyond adjusting our C-1 zoning, we could consider requiring conditional use approval for assisted living facilities, adding the additional step of review and approval by the Board of Supervisors.

Sharon Humble Response:

The first “thing” on my list for change is to revoke the Planning Commission’s final decision-making authority on development plans and requests for waivers and variances. On October 7, 2019, the Board of Supervisors authorized the Township Solicitor to review methods by which the Board of Supervisors may obtain final land development approval authority, which I fully support.

Tredyffrin has seen a surge of oversized development projects before the Planning Commission seeking waivers from the restrictions designed to protect the rest of us. Too often, the developers’ requests are granted, to the great detriment of the surrounding homeowners and the environment. Responsible development, however, fits within Township ordinances that exist to protect the Township’s infrastructure, property values, safety, and quality of life. Township residents are not willing to have their safety, quality of life, home property values, and regional environment stability sacrificed for the sake of a developer’s greater profit.

Gina Mazzulla Response:

I support efforts to return final approval authority for land development concerns to the Board of Supervisors. Zoning and land development concerns, I believe, have the broadest and deepest impact across the spectrum of services the township is responsible for, including emergency services, roads and traffic, stormwater, open space and population density, and of course, taxes – affecting both resident stakeholders and the physical infrastructure of the township.

As a Supervisor my duty is to represent the interests of, be a voice for, and be accountable to the residents and voters I serve, balanced with due consideration for the interests of the township as a whole entity.  Recognizing the complexities and legalities of zoning and land development, I also support mandatory education for Supervisors, Planning Commission and Zoning Officer and Hearing Board through programs such as the Chester County Planning Commission’s Master Planning Program for (new) municipal officials.

Liz Mercogliano Response:

The most important zoning ordinance update should be in the area of the planning and development including storm water management. The Supervisors should take back the final decision role in the final approvals of building plans.  The Supervisors are elected and must respond to the constituents. Currently, the township allows the planning commission, (a group of Supervisor appointed volunteers), the privilege of the final decisions on the development plans. I suggest the Supervisors take back the final approval. In addition, the supervisors should give the residents in the immediate community a stronger voice.

Our citizens should not have to attend Supervisor meetings begging for help. Our taxpayers should not have to scream, beg or read dissertations for the Supervisors to acknowledge their views. I plan to listen and help in any way I can in a polite civil manner. A simple response of thank you, I am glad you came to our meeting would suffice.

Raffi Terzian Response:

I am honored to serve as a Board member of the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust whose mission is to preserve and protect historic and cultural resources in our Township. The Board of Supervisors must enact a historic ordinance which is meaningful and which firmly recognizes the importance of these resources for the benefit of our community and ensures their preservation for future generations. Progress is being made with the creation of a draft ordinance, which is winding its way through the approval process, but this process must advance swiftly and with transparency. The recent controversy over the installation of a digital billboard, which many of us oppose, illustrates the need for open dialogue, community engagement and greater visibility in the creation, review and application of our Township ordinances.

Eight Candidates for Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors and Ten Candidates for T/E School Board – Where do they stand on important community issues? Know before you VOTE – Responses to Community Matters questions

In two weeks, local voters we will go to the polls to select four supervisors for Tredyffrin Township and five T/E School Board directors. People bring different backgrounds and qualifications to the job of supervisor and school board director and as voters; we need to make the right choices on Election Day.

To assist voters in the decision-making process, it is important for the public to know the candidates and where they stand on important community issues. To aid in the process, last Thursday I sent four questions to the eight supervisor candidates and four questions to the ten school board candidates. The questions were not shared in advance and all candidates received the questions at the same time. Completely voluntary, the eighteen candidates were given the following direction when responding:

Questions were chosen based on what I believe are important issues and included zoning/ordinance changes, fire and EMS funding, public accountability, fiscal responsibility and resident involvement. Candidates were invited to respond to the four questions with the following directions:

Your responses should NOT be a political campaign plug and no campaign websites are to be included. Your response (word doc format) should NOT exceed 150 words per questions and is due no later than Sunday, October 20. Your responses will not be edited and will be provided to the public via Community Matters.

Candidate participation was completely voluntary and all responses will appear on Community Matters in alphabetical order (by last name) beginning the week of October 21. I sincerely appreciate the candidates taking the time from their busy campaign schedules to respond; it looks like all supervisor and school board candidates are participating. On a personal note, I admit that the management of eighteen candidates and their individual responses to four questions has been challenging but believe that this is an important exercise!

The process for the candidate questions and their responses is as follows – starting tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 22) with the supervisor candidates, I will post one question daily on Community Matters with the eight candidate responses. Once the four supervisor questions and responses are posted in four days, I will post one question daily with responses from the ten school board candidates.

In preparation of the supervisor questions (starting on Tuesday, Oct. 22), here is a list of the candidates running for Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors (listed in alphabetical order).

Julie Gosse (D) *
Raffi Terzian (R)

Mark Freed (D) *
Sharon Humble (D)
Gina Mazzulla (R)
Liz Mercogliano (R)

K. S. Bhaskar (D)
Peter DiLullo (R)

* Currently serving on the Board of Supervisors, Mark Freed is an incumbent seeking re-election. Julie Gosse was appointed as interim supervisor in August to fill the unexpired term of Paul Olson and is seeking election to a regular 4-year term.

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