Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Steve Kelly

Chester County GOP Convention . . . District Attorney Race – Steve Kelly Withdraws, Tom Hogan Endorsed but . . . is Pat Carmody remaining a candidate?

Attending the Chester County GOP endorsement convention last night was a four-hour marathon event. The evening started at 7 PM and was filled with political tradition, excitement, predictions, disappointment and for some of us . . . a night of waiting.

With 391 committee members voting (or holding proxy votes), the convention endorsement process required a candidate to receive 60 percent of the total votes or 235 votes. If after one round of voting, a candidate did not receive a minimum of 60 percent of the votes, there was a second round of voting. On the occasion that the second round did not net a candidate at least 235 votes, a third round of voting was required. If a candidate did not emerge with the required 60 percent on the third round of voting, both candidates received ‘recommended’ status versus ‘endorsed’ and the Republican candidate would be determined by the voters in the May primary.

For those of us in the spectator seats (only the voting committee members of the county GOP were permitted beyond a certain point) there was an opportunity to speak with the candidates. Fortunately for me, Congressman Joe Pitts campaign manager was sitting close by and she provided a wealth of information on the candidates and an explanation of the endorsement process. I liken my attending the convention, much as a spectator at a sporting event, when you have never played the sport and do not know the rules and regulations. It was great to have an expert explaining the ‘plays’ throughout the night!

My interest in attending the GOP convention last night, extended beyond idle fascination. I felt like I had a ‘horse in the race’ so to speak and for me the evening centered on the district attorney race. I have written about the DA candidates, Pat Carmody, Tom Hogan and Steve Kelly. Although I know Hogan and consider him a friend, I have had email and telephone contact with Carmody and Kelly. Having had several phone conversations with Pat Carmody, I was delighted to put a ‘face to the voice’. Friendly and engaging, it is easy to see how Carmody has successfully served in the district attorney office for 27 years! As expected, Kelly withdrew his name from the nomination process and his support (and the suggestion that his supporters do likewise) went to DA candidate Hogan.

The district attorney race was the last race of the night. Remembering that after the straw polls, only two votes separated Carmody and Hogan (Carmody led by the 2 votes) the committee members cast their votes for DA. First round, the vote count was Carmody 165; Hogan 224. Neither candidate had received the necessary 60 percent vote; a second round of voting was required. At this point, it was late in the evening – after 10:30 PM. Two of the committee members had left the building (and apparently did not leave their proxy) so the committee members voting dropped to 389 (versus the original 391). However, the 60 percent number of votes required for endorsement remained the same at 235. After a second round of voting in the DA race, the count shifted — Carmody 127; Hogan 255. Hogan had passed the required 60 percent vote margin and emerged the endorsed Republican District Attorney candidate. Although Hogan is the GOP endorsed DA candidate, there was speculation among the spectators that Carmody may remain in the district attorney race.

In other races, there was no surprise that the two endorsed County Commissioner candidates are Terrence Farrell and Ryan Costello. If you recall, Costello was recently appointed to fill the unexpired term of Carol Aichele. The Common Pleas Judge race was interesting. Candidates Jeff Sommer and Ann Marie Wheatcraft were both recommended after three rounds of very close voting. However, so as not to confuse voters at the primary, Jeff Sommer withdrew his name, and by a special vote, Wheatcraft was named the endorsed candidate; thus avoiding any confusion in May. The other Common Pleas judge candidate endorsed was Mark Tunnell.

Creating a look right out of the Wild West with straw cowboy hats and red t-shirts were supporters of Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh. Without party opposition, Welsh was endorsed for re-election as Chester County sheriff.

I want to thank the Chester County GOP for allowing the public the opportunity for an inside look at county politics. Several people asked if I would be attending the county Democratic convention on Saturday. My reply, only if there are any contested races. (I do not think any of the races are contested.)

Although the district attorney’s race was my primary motivation for attending the county GOP endorsement convention last night, the evening provided a glimpse in to political party tradition and a front row seat for the candidate endorsement process. Thank you for the experience Chester County Republican Committee.

Chester County DA Race . . . Steve Kelly to Withdraw, & then there were 2!

As a follow-up to my recent post concerning the Chester County DA race — Steve Kelly has notified all the Republican committee members via email that he will be withdrawing his name from the nomination process tomorrow night at the convention.

A true gentlemen, Kelly had kind words for both of the remaining candidates, Pat Carmody and Tom Hogan, including ” . . . I know that each shares a great passion in seeking justice for victims in our community. Yours is not an easy decision. . . “

Kelly goes on to explain his long association and friendship with Carmody and the decision to go public with his support was difficult. However, in the end, Kelly says, ” . . . as a committeeman, an Area Chair and as a career prosecutor, I know I have a duty that transcends my personal life – a duty to see that the best leader takes the helm in the DA’s Office. Consequently, I would urge you to support Tom Hogan. . . “

The District Attorney race just got more interesting . . . will Kelly’s supporters give their vote to Hogan? Would those votes be enough for Hogan to get the needed 60% for endorsement? Has Carmody managed to change some minds of committee people since the straw polls? Will either candidate stay in the race without party endorsement?

I think that there are around 400 committee votes at stake and pre-Kelly’s withdrawing, only 2 votes separating Carmody and Hogan.

Political Notes . . . Brazunas Will Not Run in 2011; Chester County Republican Convention Tomorrow – District Attorney Race

A couple of noteworthy political items . . .

There has been speculation as to whether Eamon Brazunas would be throwing his hat in the campaign ring again for the Tredyffrin’s Board of Supervisors. Eamon emailed friends and supporters today with his decision not to run in the 2011 supervisor’s race. Here is an excerpt from the email:

“After careful consideration I have decided not to seek election to the Board of Supervisors this year. Therefore, I will not be running in the 2011 election cycle. While it has been a goal of mine to serve the residents in Tredyffrin on the Board, I will be taking this year to fully appreciate the first year of Stella’s life.

I will continue to work with my fellow colleagues in the fire service and with the Board of Supervisors in both Tredyffrin and Easttown to improve the Fire/EMS services in our community. We have made significant progress with communications publicly at Township meetings, established a communications network to link Fire/EMS/Police and other stakeholders and made strides towards a long-term funding solution. There is more work to be done and I will continue to contribute in this area, which I have devoted much time to over the past 13 years.”

In December, Eamon and his wife Ali became first-time parents to daughter Stella Nicola. I think we would all agree that this is a very special time in the Brazunas family and should be enjoyed! I appreciate that Eamon was a supervisor candidate in the past and that he recently participated as a candidate for the interim supervisor vacancy. The entire community appreciates his continued service as a Berwyn volunteer firefighter!

On another political note . . . tomorrow is the Chester County Republican Convention and I will be attending. A couple of years ago, I attended the convention to support Judy DiFilippo when she was running for the State House and was interested in the process.

If you recall, over the last several weeks, I have written about Chester County’s district attorney race. The race is very close for Republican candidates Pat Carmody, Tom Hogan and Steve Kelly. After the county straw polls, Carmody was ahead of Hogan, but only by two votes and Kelly was in third place. Based on my experience, the straw polls may (or may not) be an indicator of the voting at the convention.

To avoid a primary race between Republican candidates would require that one of these three candidates receive 60% of the votes cast at the convention. If committee members are unable to attend the convention, they need to give their proxy vote to someone to attend in their absence. Good news is that the weather tomorrow should not be a factor to keep anyone home. All the votes are important and could be the deciding factor in whose name will appear on the May primary ballot.

Although it was my understanding that the Republican Convention was open to the public, I did call ahead to double-check that Community Matters would be welcomed. I received a very friendly welcoming response to my inquiry from Maria at the Chester County Republican Headquarters; and I look forward to attending (and following the DA race!)

Chester County DA Candidate Steve Kelly Provides His Comments

Below are comments that I received from Steve Kelly, the third candidate in the Chester County District Attorney race. Mr. Kelly states that he was not given an opportunity to respond for the Daily Local article. If this is accurate, than I am particularly pleased to offer Mr. Kelly the forum for his remarks. Mr. Kelly mentions that the straw poll vote count is incorrect . . . can someone please provide the correct numbers?

There are two remaining Chester County Republican Committee interviews scheduled for the district attorney candidates, tonight and tomorrow nights. I understand the politics of this process but I am hopeful that committee people give all three candidates fair and honest consideration.

Dear Pattye,

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the newspaper article in the Daily Local. I am disappointed that I was not given an opportunity to respond by the author of the article. I saw that the reporter stated that he made an attempt to reach me but I never received a telephone message or email from the reporter and so I question whether there was a sincere attempt to reach me. I am also disappointed that the article incorrectly reported my straw vote total although I am told there was a correction in the newspaper today.

At this point, I believe that the District Attorney and First Assistant adequately addressed the substantive issues raised by the newspaper reporter. It is my desire to refrain from criticism of the other candidates and to focus on the positive message offered by my campaign. I believe the other candidates are fine gentleman and are certainly qualified to be DA. I am as well.

I graduated from the National College of District Attorney’s Career Prosecutors Course in 1993 and was one of a few prosecutors in the nation to be invited back to teach on the faculty. I have over twenty years under my belt as a prosecutor and wear many hats in the office. I supervise a team of prosecutors, run the grand jury and help direct most of the major investigations in the county, oversee our HIDTA drug task force and oversee all major drug trafficking investigations, act as director of police training and I maintain a trial caseload. I tried two murder trials last year and since 1990, I have tried more jury trials in our courthouse than any other attorney. I have also litigated death penalty cases and won record setting sentences.

My goals are influenced by my training in the field of economics and I want to start with the recognition that we have to do a better job of preventing crime. Most crimes are committed at night and are committed by repeat offenders so I want to lead an effort to place curfews on felons who are on probation or parole. Such curfews should be enforced by probation officers partnering with police. The current model of supervision that relies on probation officers working 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. simply is not sufficiently effective. I also want a strong prisoner re-entry program. Because we know that idle time is the devil’s workshop, if a parolee is not working, looking for a job or going to school, then he or she should be performing community service. At the same time, I want the justice system to collaborate with church groups to enlist their help with mentoring parolees. I want a renewed emphasis on addressing truancy. If we can keep kids in school, they have a better chance of graduating and becoming contributing crime-free members of society. I want to partner with our secondary schools and colleges to help identify and address common problems.

There are many community-policing concepts that help save lives and money and I have the experience to implement them. Using many of these same ideas, I led a highly praised effort from 2001 to 2003 that earned Coatesville the Pennsylvania award for the “Weed and Seed Community of the Year.”

Another goal I have concerns training. Our police officers risk their lives every day as they respond to crime and they do a fantastic job. They would agree with me however that better training of police and prosecutors will lead to improved service to our community. What is more, better training can lead to cost savings in the criminal justice system. With travel and overnight accommodation expenses, outside training can be expensive. Therefore, we need to provide high quality in-house training for attorneys and detectives. I have had tremendous success in providing training to local members of the Pennsylvania State Police. I also started a police-training unit three years ago that designed and implemented an accredited CSI training program for local and federal agents. Graduates receive certificates as certified crime scene technicians. We just had a graduation ceremony this past Friday and I was proud to see over twenty officers and FBI agents complete this intensive ten-month program.

Thank you again for this opportunity and please know that I will continue the fight to keep Chester County a safe and welcoming community.

Steve Kelly

Chester County DA Candidate Tom Hogan Responds

Chester County district attorney candidate Tom Hogan has responded to my email request for comment to yesterday’s Community Matters post, “Chester County DA Race is Heating Up . . . Candidates Taking the Gloves Off” — his remarks are below.

Mr. Hogan’s comments and the earlier remarks of Mr. Carmody would indicate that the gloves in the DA race are indeed off!

Pattye –

I am aware of Mr. Carmody’s communications with the Republican committee people of Chester County as we are both working to earn their endorsement; I am certain that Mr. Carmody has seen my communications to committee people as well. I have heard rumblings throughout the committee process and from the DA’s office about use of County resources in campaigns.

The taxpayers of Chester County want open government and fiscal responsibility that separates the partisan political from good government. If it is proven to be true that Mr. Carmody has utilized taxpayer-paid resources for his campaign, this is very troubling and could be detrimental to the Republican ticket as well as open Mr. Carmody to legal actions being brought against him. For his sake and the sake of the office, I hope it is not true.

In the coming weeks, I will continue to present my positive record as a county and federal prosecutor, as well as my endorsements from the law enforcement community to the committee people and citizens of Chester County. I believe that when they compare my record to that of my opponents, they will agree I am the best choice to serve as their District Attorney.

Thank You.

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