Following November’s mid-term election, I wrote of news in the Chester County District Attorney’s office . . . District Attorney Joseph Carroll decision to run for Common Pleas Court judge seat and not seek re-election as the county DA. At the time of the announcement, there was speculation about possible DA candidates including Tredyffrin’s solicitor Tom Hogan among others.
Fast forward, a couple of months and the district attorney race is now in full campaign mode. Three candidates, Tom Hogan, former prosecutor and partner in Lamb McErlane law firm; Assistant District Attorney Pat Carmody and Deputy District Attorney Stephen Kelly are vying for the endorsement of Chester County Republican Committee and it appears that the candidates are taking the gloves off for this race!
The GOP is conducting interviews with the district attorney candidates at various locations throughout the county. So far, the organization has held three straw polls and the voting of the committee members is as follows:
West Chester area: Carmody 47 votes; Hogan 24 votes; Kelly 10 votes
Tredyffrin area: Hogan 51 votes; Carmody 16 votes; Kelly none.
Southern Chester County area: Hogan 31 votes; Carmody 30 votes; Kelly 18 votes
If my math is correct, the current vote count has Hogan leading with 106 votes to Carmody’s 93 votes and Kelly’s 28 votes. There are two more straw polls this week leading up to the Chester County Republican Convention on February 15 that decides the candidate endorsement.
I do not typically weigh in on county politics, (there is more than enough going on with Tredyffrin and our neighboring townships to keep me busy) but I will make an exception with the district attorney race. The Sunday Daily Local ran an article on the district attorney race that caught my attention. In the article, the writer claims that during a GOP interview, DA candidate Hogan suggested administrative inconsistencies and the need to ‘clean up’ the district attorney office.
I was surprised by the immediate defensive reaction to Hogan’s criticism of the district attorney office by District Attorney Carroll and Assistant DA Carmody. I believe citizens prefer placing their confidence in a district attorney, like candidate Tom Hogan, who is willing to take a stand to improve the process and to make government better. There is nothing wrong with Hogan suggesting there is room for improvement in the DA office. You set your goals, ever-increasing the level of standard, and then work to achieve that objective. As taxpayers, isn’t that what we should expect and what we want from our elected officials?
We know that change can be difficult for some; people get comfortable with doing things the same way they have always been done; my guess is that the Chester County District Attorney office is no different. From my association with Tom Hogan over the last few years, his approach does not simply accept status quo but rather an approach that seeks to make government more accountable, and more efficient. ‘Raising the bar’ by raising expectations makes for good government.
Yesterday, I received an anonymous email in regards to the district attorney race from a concerned Chester County resident. Attached to the email were several Carmody campaign-related documents, including his campaign business card. The individual who sent the email was concerned that candidate Carmody was using his personal cell phone number on the literature. I did no appreciate the individual’s concern until I opened the attachment containing the official telephone contact list from the DA office. Curiously, the same cell phone number that Carmody uses on campaign materials is also his office contact number in the District Attorney office.
So what does this mean? Is Carmody’s cell phone personally owned or county-issued? Regardless if the phone is county owned property or personally owned by Carmody; it is interesting that he uses the same telephone number in his campaign literature and his county office. Would this imply that Carmody takes campaign calls at the district attorney office? Is this but a small legal campaign detail overlooked by a person running our legal system? Does this suggest that the district attorney’s office doubles as his campaign headquarters? If nothing else, Carmody’s actions make me wonder about what line is drawn between campaigning and working for the people of Chester County. The merging of political activities with the people’s work is a fine line.
Certainly, I lay no claim to understanding the inner-workings of the District Attorney’s office but as a response to Carroll and Carmody over Hogan’s criticism of the DA’s office, I am reminded of a line from Hamlet . . . “you doth protest too much me thinks”. Perhaps, Hogan’s criticisms were hitting a little too close to home.