How many times have you gone to the polls during an election or even a primary and done what I am guilty of, "eeenie, meenie minee, mo." Part of the reason is that, believe it or not, I haven't had time to familiarize myself with the candidates, especially in the primaries. Last night that changed for me. Johnsontown Community Group had invited the candidates running for the open Borough Council seats, and we got much more than we bargained for. By the time we all made it to our seats last night and the meeting was called to order 15 candidates or their representatives had come to present themselves to our group and the community residents who attended. I was impressed with some, and others failed to make me sit up and want to give them my vote, so here are my impressions of some of the candidates that attended last night.
Judge of the Court of Common Pleas
Mark Tunnell-I honestly could not get a feel for him. He's a quiet man and when speaking to him after the event he was a very cordial person. Mark Tunnell
Fredda Maddox-I was not impressed with Ms. Maddox. While she is well spoken, she spoke mostly about Philadelphia and the challenges they face as opposed to getting down to brass tact's as to what she will bring to the table for Chester County. Fredda Maddox
Ann Marie Wheatcraft-If she is as good as the representative that was there for her last night she has my vote. I had heard of some of the programs that Ms. Wheatcraft had been involved in in Avon Grove, but did not know who she was. Ann Marie Wheatcraft
Kathi Cozzone-Most of us here in Johnsontown are familiar with Ms. Cozzone as she is an active member in the community of Downingtown, but her family also recently suffered a tragedy in our little area of the borough. She was well spoken last night and I felt that I could easily vote for her if I were of her party. Kathi Cozzone
Ryan Costello-For some reason this gentleman rubbed me the wrong way. I don't know if it was how he carried himself or if it was the content of his speech. He is presently filling the spot left open by Carol Aichele. His firm is also involved in the case for Pennhurst Manor and was challenged during our question and answer period about said case by a council member from that area. He is a former Recorder of Deeds so he is from the political world of Chesco. Ryan Costello
Sam Stretton-I honestly expected more from Mr. Stretton. I knew that he was the attorney of record for Ann Feldman and the Kardon Park issue, so I think I was expecting a little more flamboyant personality and a bit more well spoken. What I took away from his speech was that at the end of the day while his experience is impressive he does not bring to the table what is needed to be the District Attorney for Chester County. Prosecuting the crimes that are committed here in Chesco is not going to be an easy job because as those of us who live here know they range from the petty to the horrific and I did not see how Mr. Stretton had the personality to take on such a huge task. (No website available)
Tom Hogan-This candidate impressed me the most out of all those running for county positions. At first when he got up to speak I thought to myself, "Here we go another arrogant candidate that thinks we are dumb." But Mr. Hogan proved me wrong. Mr. Hogan is charismatic, his resume is impressive and he makes you feel that he wants to put away the "bad guys" as much as you do. His experience in not only local prosecutions, but all the way to a federal level give the impression that he will make sure justice is served. Tom Hogan
Sheriff Carolyn Bunny Welsh (Sheriff Bunny Welsh) was her own bubbly, yet down to business self as she described the accomplishments of the Chester County Sheriff's Department which have been well documented thus far. Russ Phifer, (Russ Phifer) running for the position of Recorder of Deeds appeared to have all his ducks on a row even with it being his first time within the political realm. He wishes to make the office more service oriented for the public. Judge Rita Arnold (Rita Arnold) also spoke briefly asking for our support as she rounds out her public service on the bench.
Now on to council for the Borough of Downingtown.
Matt Zaun (East Ward)-Matt is a soft spoken gentleman, but does give you the feeling that he really cares what goes on in the borough. He is a member of the Historical and Parks Commission and has a true heart for service. He wants to see smart growth in Downingtown without emptying the pockets of the residents and preserving our rich history. (Matt Zaun)
Cara DeStefano-Cara is a leader and has headed up the IDEAL (IDEAL) group in Downingtown. This group is residents and business owners in Downingtown who wish to see revitalization and growth in the borough. IDEAL, while promoting all revitalization in the borough also went head to head with Friends of Kardon Park. If you don't know the whole issue behind Kardon Park-in a nutshell the borough wished to develop the land west of The Ponds which is, in my opinion and many others, a former dump that needs to be remediated for it to be of some use to anyone in the borough. Friends of Kardon Park have taken this to litigation and have said that the land west of The Ponds is still a park and therefore should not be developed. At this time the head of Friends of Kardon Park, Ann Feldman is a member of Borough Council and is sitting until 2013. This could be an issue for Cara as both women will have to work together and it may work against Cara in the polls. (IDEAL/Daily Local)
Betty Shingle(West Ward)-Betty is a long time resident of Downingtown and of Johnsontown. She has headed up several car enthusiasts clubs and is a doting grandmother. Betty was a former Executive Council member of Johnsontown, but resigned late last year after a personality conflict with other members of the group. Betty also recently (March 2011) changed party affiliations to run as a Democrat against Nick Winkler for the seat being vacated by Bob Smith. While Betty does have the borough's best interest at heart I cannot see what skill set she would be able to bring to the table as a council member. I, myself sometimes get lost in the quagmire of local politics and I have been following it quite closely for the last few years, so I am not sure what skills Ms. Shingle feels she has to contribute to the twists and turns of running the ever growing and changing borough. (No website available)
Alex Rakoff-Mayor Josh Maxwell represented Alex. I could not really get a feel for Alex from Mayor Maxwell's talk other than he seems to be a very involved citizen and resident of Downingtown.(http://www.alexrakoff.com/)
Nick Winkler-I may be a bit bias when it comes to Nick as I have worked closely with him for the past two years on the Johnsontown Community Group. Nick ran for mayor in 2009 and was narrowly defeated by Mayor Maxwell. Nick is well spoken and has a true heart for service in his community. He is involved, as proven by the time he gives to JCG and does indeed love the town he has chosen to call home. When I am not sure about an issue that has come before Borough Council most times Nick will have an answer for me or knows who or where to go to get the answer. His clear concise answers to questions at times can appear that he knows too much, but Nick does his research so that he can answer the question that is asked of him. He brings a great deal to the table as he ran a campaign for Mayor of Downingtown and while he was defeated he did have a fantastic showing and he ran the re-election campaign for Curt Schroder for State Representative. He tries to have his finger on the pulse of Downingtown and that is what I seek in a political representative. (Nick Winkler)
So there you have it...my impressions of those who wish to represent you in the next election. Take what you like and leave the rest, but make sure you get out and vote so that your voice can be heard.