In one evening, five new members join Kennett Square Borough Council
● By Steven Hoffman
Only a few minutes after the three new members of Kennett Square Borough Council—Wayne Braffman, Doug Doerfler, and Jamie Mallon—were officially sworn into office on Monday, Jan. 4, they and the other members of borough council were charged with filling two other vacancies on the seven-person council.
By the end of the evening, there were five new faces on borough council.
“That, my friends, is what we call a dramatic changeover,” said council president Dan Maffei, one of only two council veterans.
Borough council unanimously selected LaToya Myers to fill a vacancy that was created last November when Patrick Taylor resigned his seat on council. Myers works as a public health professional. She is a lifelong resident of Kennett Square who graduated from Kennett High School and has been involved in community service in town since she was 16 years old.
Myers said that she felt that joining council would be the next step to serving the community.
Next, borough council set out to fill the vacancy that was created when Lynn Sinclair resigned from council.
Mallon made a motion to appoint Ethan Cramer to fill the vacancy. Cramer is a community organizer who lives in the East Linden neighborhood. He serves on the Carter Community Development Corporation that continues the work of the Historic East Linden Project. For more than a decade, an effort led by residents in the neighborhood has managed to re-build East Linden into a healthy neighborhood.
Cramer was appointed to fill the seat by a vote of 3-2. Braffman said that he supported Cramer for the position because of the strong connection that he has to the Latino community. He explained that Kennett Square, as a community, is 50 percent Latino, but the borough council itself doesn't include any Latino members.
“That's a problem and it's a challenge and it's an opportunity,” Braffman said, explaining that Cramer is well-respected in the Latino community, and could serve as a bridge to those residents.
Braffman talked about the process that he used to make a decision about who should be selected to fill the vacancies, focusing on what each individual would bring to council as a whole.
“I looked at this body as a team,” Braffman said. “We need to have a wide range of skills.”
Myers and Cramer will both serve until Jan. 1, 2018.
Maffei said that there were a total of eight people who applied to fill the two vacancies, and with so many highly qualified candidates it made it difficult for council members to choose who to appoint. He encouraged those who weren't selected to the positions to serve Kennett Square in other ways, like serving on one of the other boards and commissions that do a lot of work for Kennett Square.
“Your talents are extraordinarily valuable and needed,” Maffei said.
In other business at the reorganization meeting, borough council selected its officers for 2016. Maffei was selected by his colleagues to serve as president, while Bosley was chosen to be the vice president.
Borough council also approved a waiver from some of the parking requirements for a project that will redevelop the old fire company building at 112 South Broad Street. The plan is to renovate a portion of the building into a wellness center for the community. This use would require eight parking spaces for the building, according to borough regulations. But the parking waiver will allow the developer to pay a fee-in-lieu of $470 for each space. This money is then available for the borough to use in its efforts to provide parking throughout the town.
Kennett Square Borough Council also appointed Leon Spencer, a former council president, to serve as the chairman of the Kennett Square Borough Council Vacancy Board. The Vacancy Board would only convene if there is a vacancy on borough council, and the remaining council members are deadlocked on who should fill the vacancy.