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Chester County Press

Whitney Hoffman: 'It's as much about communication as it is about radical transparency'

10/21/2015 08:46AM ● By J. Chambless

Whitney Hoffman

Republican Ted Moxon and Democrat Whitney Hoffman have both declared their candidacies to occupy the seat soon to be left occupied by long-time Kennett Township Supervisor Robert Hammaker, in an election to be held on Nov. 3. Recently, the Chester County Press sat down with both, to get a glimpse inside their respective campaigns

By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

In the years prior to the election of Scudder Stevens and Dr. Richard Leff in 2012 and 2014, respectively, the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors board was made up of Robert Hammaker, Michael Elling and Alan Falcoff – three Republicans, a political tilt that regularly saw 3-0 votes and a one- sided influence that some in the township viewed as an uncompromising, political bulldozer.

With the campaign – and possible election – of Democrat Whitney Hoffman to replace Hammaker in January 2016, some who follow the township's government are believing that the same scenario may soon exist again.

It's a perception Hoffman flatly denies.

“I find it insulting to assume that I would just be a rubber stamp for Scudder and Richard,” Hoffman said of her candidacy. “I hate when things get partisan, because I think the actual issues about what's good for the future of the township get lost in this side and that side conflict. My axe to grind, if anything, is trying to make sure that the township is more community-focused and more responsive to its residents. We should be working toward something that's more reflective of what the community wants and needs.”

A review of Hoffman's campaign platform reveals an extensive list of issues of concern to the township's future, and while some objectives are similar in scope to the work being done by Stevens and Leff, the brightest spot of Hoffman's agenda is an area that, if elected, could be in the form of what she calls a crucial natural resource: sustainable development, as seen through increased Internet capability.

Leaning on her knowledge of as a digital media strategist and consultant, Hoffman believes that the township must expand its communication channels with township residents. If elected, she would like to help the township acquire the high-speed community Internet services soon to be made accessible by Comcast and Verizon. It's the key to improving the technological infrastructure for the township, which she feels will benefit schools, businesses, and homeowners.

Hoffman said that increased Internet capability in the township would allow more residents to work from home, thus reducing traffic and pollution. She said that it would encourage local employers to bring more clean jobs to the Kennett area, and increase the township's earned income tax base, providing additional money to improve infrastructure, attracting new businesses and increasing property values.

“Comcast has said that they've already rolled out 2-gigabit Internet in Atlanta and San Francisco, and plan to do it over this area over the next two to three years,” Hoffman said. “I want to make sure we're early on that list, because we have a population here that already has family members with multiple devices and having higher bandwidth access will be great for all of that. If we're not looking two or three years down the road, we're going to end up behind the eight ball.”

Increasing communication avenues in the township, Hoffman said, will be directly related to increasing its transparency. Although she praised the township for an improved website and its ability to communicate with residents during the snowstorms of last year's winter, it's merely the first step in the progress she would like to see in developing consumer-friendly technology.

We have to have a better user interface and on-line experience,” she said. “You can get anything you want from our website but if its going to take more than three clicks to get there, nobody knows and nobody cares. You can videotape all of the supervisors' meetings, and it won't mean anything if there's no index and it's not searchable. I would like governments better use the tools that we have been given.

“It's as much about communication as it is about radical transparency.”

Whitney Hoffman (Democrat)

Age: 49

Family: Husband Matt, two children

Length of Residence in Kennett Township: 11

Related Experience: Treasurer, Junior Board of Christiana Care; Member, Kennett Consolidated School District Professional Development and Strategic Planning Committees; Pa. State Representative Election 2014 Candidate, Pa. District 160.

Agenda: Sustainable development; financial transparency and responsibility; open space and trails; and public safety.

Quote: “How can we synthesize our information into something that's meaningful and actionable, and get a plan to go forward? You can have great ideas all day, but if you don't have an implementation strategy, it means nothing. Part of it is, that when you know that there are better ways of getting information, you can either throw up your hands or you can actually do something to improve it.”


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