Four Democrats sworn in as Chester County officials
01/09/2018 11:39AM ● Published by Richard Gaw
The swearing-in of newly elected Chester County officials, always a dignified and respectful ceremony, has nonetheless been lacquered with a ho-hum sense of sameness, as Republican after Republican has been ushered into county positions for more than 200 years.
At about 11:45 a.m. on the morning of Jan. 2, however, the Ballroom in the Sykes Student Union on the campus of West Chester University reflected a different vibe altogether, as nearly 250 filed in to witness the beginning of a changing political makeup in county government, as four Democrats were sworn in as county row officers: Patricia Maisano as Treasurer, Margaret Reif as Controller, Yolanda Van De Krol as Clerk of Courts and Dr. Christina Vandepol as Coroner.
In addition to the four County row seats, Bret Binder, John Hipple and Al Iococca were sworn in as Magisterial District Judges.
After an opening invocation by Rev. Jonathan Hauze of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Exton, and a stirring performance of the “Star Spangled Banner” by Cpl. Wayne Johnson of the Chester County Sheriff’s Office, all four women took their oath of office, to huge applause from the audience.
The event served as the touchstone to the election of last Nov. 7, when Maisano defeated Jack London by a vote of 57,318 to 49,453; Reif defeated incumbent Norman MacQueen 57,455 to 47,824; Van De Krol defeated former Clerk of Courts Robin Marcello 56,195 to 50,199; and Vandepol beat incumbent Dr. Gordon Eck, 57,584 to 48,866. None of the winning officials had any prior political experience coming into their respective races.
Remarks made by county officials prior to the swearing-in ceremony seemed to strike a concilliatory tone of bipartisanship. County Commissioner Michelle Kichline, a Republican, told the audience that she had the opportunity to meet all four of the row officers, and said that all four appreciate the importance of public service, in the spirit of bipartisanship and in the best interests of all Chester County citizens.
"Chester County government, unlike our state and federal governments, has a long history of electing women to leadership positions," she told the audience. "In fact, one could argue that having so many women at the helm has contributed to our position as the healthiest, the wealthiest and the best educated county in the state.
"In all honesty, the women, and the men, who have been elected to public service in Chester County do contribute to our many earned accolades and achievements, whether it is strong financial management or a healthy pension fund that allows us to consider investing in Chester County tech companies, or a government that plans for growth, open space or economic development...or a county that works as one to fight the opioid and heroin crisis."
In her comments, Commissioner Kathi Cozzone, a Democrat, said that she does not view the election of Maisano, Reif, Van De Krol and Vandepol in terms of bipartisanship, but as a way of "looking for solutions."
"I see [the election of four Democrats to row offices] as looking for practical ways to serve the needs of Chester County citizens," Cozzone said. "Government words like 'task force' aren't just rhetoric in the county. They have a true purpose, because we do work together and address issues like homelessness, incarceration of those with mental health issues, and the battle against substance abuse.
"Is it always harmonious? No. We have our differences from time to time, but we agree then to disagree, but through respect for each other, we're able to accomplish a lot in this southeastern corner of Pennsylvania."
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email email@example.com.