A crowded field seeks seats on Oxford Borough Council
● By Steven Hoffman
There will be some new faces on Oxford Borough Council in 2020, and the Primary Election begins the process of determining who those new faces will be.
There are three council seats up for election this year, and just one incumbent—Peggy Ann Russell—is seeking reelection as council president Sue Lombardi and council member John Thompson have both opted not to seek another term. Lombardi is finishing up her third term, while Thompson is concluding his second term.
There are eight people seeking to fill the three seats so there will likely still be a crowded field after the Primary Election on May 21.
The Democrats seeking the nomination include Russell, Kathryn Goodley Cloyd, and Marybeth Rizzo Moore, while the Republicans are Mary Lou Baily, Joseph B. Emhof III, Philip Harris, Joseph Martinelli, and Michele Rich-Ianieri.
Russell, who is currently in her fourth year on council, said that her experience was a reason that she wanted to seek another term.
She explained, “After the Council approved the construction of the Multi-Model Transit Center, I felt it was necessary to run again to provide some continuity on the Council. Otherwise, there would be three brand new members, three members with two years of experience, and Mr. Hershey, who travels a lot for his employment. This is in no way a reflection upon Mrs. Lombardi and Mr. Thompson, who chose not to run. They have served twelve and eight years, I have only served one term. One goal for Council, as I see it, is to manage the construction costs as responsibly as possible and do everything in our power to make this successful. Although there were many mixed feelings about the project, it is being constructed, and we want it to be all that the proponents dream it can be. There are other important issues that are dealt with on a continuing basis so it is not all about the "parking garage." There is the Sewer Authority, ordinances to help the community welcome new businesses and still maintain the culture which draws people to Oxford, the environment, safety, our youth, etc. All of these require transparency, dialogue, and engagement with the residents and taxpayers, businesses and visitors.”
Michele Rich-Ianieri said that she never had any aspirations to run for a political office. But she was a strong opponent of the parking garage project, and was not pleased with borough council’s process of making its decisions about the project.
She explained, “It was not the concept of such a large and costly structure, but rather the behavior of our elected officials. Residents and taxpayers were faced with the inability to question perceived "authorities" and Council exhibited an ever-increasing desire of absolute authority over the project and the people.”
She said that Oxford Borough is “a community divided by local government’s inability or unwillingness to represent those for whom they were elected to represent and the peoples’ unwillingness to accept less.”
Rich-Ianieri said that she wants to help rebuild Oxford by enhancing community involvement in local government activities. If elected, she would ensure full transparency of the parking garage project, while keeping the promise that taxpayer money will not be used to fund the parking garage’s construction or maintenance.
Other goals include “revisiting local ordinances that are causing undo financial hardships to property owners, continuously working toward rebuilding the public’s trust, and demanding more transparency from the special interest groups that seek financial support from taxpayer funds.”
She added, “It would be an honor to join like-minded individuals such as Peggy A. Russell and Kathryn Goodley Cloyd, whom I have had the opportunity to work with in the past, to build the Oxford of the future.”
Mary Lou Baily was born and raised in Southern Chester County and is a graduate of Avon Grove High School. She earned her degree in architecture from Temple University and followed her passion for non-profits by moving to Washington, DC upon graduation. After marrying her husband and having their first son they rediscovered the joys of the Southern Chester County lifestyle and became enthralled with Oxford. They chose to put down roots and grow their family here. Their second son was born a year and a half ago, and their love for Oxford has only deepened. They can be found many weekends enjoying the expanded library, the beautiful new playground, and walking into town for coffee or dinner.
Mary Lou is also no stranger to leadership and community activism. She has stepped up to volunteer in leadership roles since childhood and this has continued through her adult life. She is currently the Main Street Manager for Oxford Mainstreet, and is responsible for overseeing all the downtown events, which includes working closely with volunteers, business owners, Borough Council, Oxford Police Department, the Union Fire Company, and many others.
She currently serves on the Oxford Borough’s Planning Commission, and she believes her experience and passion for the Oxford community will benefit her in the role as Borough Council member.
Her priorities include providing opportunities for the community to be proud of where they live by having safe streets and neighborhoods, supporting community events, and celebrating the town’s history. She would use smart growth tools like mixed-use development, complete walkable streets, and quality housing to help enhance the neighborhoods while maintaining Oxford’s small town charm and the proximity to open space.
She also wants to continue to develop the borough into a business-friendly environment by crafting regulations and communicating a clear process to new businesses, which in turn will reduce the tax burden on all residents.
Kathryn Goodley Cloyd said that if she were elected, she would “hope to work with other council members to improve outreach to our residents. I feel that we'll be a stronger community if more of us are involved in the decision-making process. I'll continue to work to make sure that the Borough is taking advantage of all grant monies that are available. This will help to alleviate some of the burden that taxpayers shoulder. It's also important that residents who attend meetings or contact Council always feel welcome to make their concerns known. I'll always be receptive to hearing people out and going above and beyond to help them if possible. We need to solve our congestion problem in order to make visiting Oxford a better experience, and I have some ideas to address this problem as well. I love our town, and I want us to grow responsibly. I enjoy thinking "outside the box" to find solutions, and I'm excited at the prospect of helping Oxford businesses and residents alike.”
She has lived in Oxford for 31 years, moving there after serving in the United States Army. She has two boys who both graduated from Oxford Area High School. She was a homeroom mom all the years her children were in elementary school, and she coached her one son’s Odyssey of the Mind team from fifth grade to 11th grade. She continued to volunteer in the schools until she went to work for the District full-time. She lives with her husband, Charles, and their three cats.
Other races in the Oxford area
Here’s a look at some of the other races in the Oxford area that will be decided in the 2019 election cycle:
The Oxford School Board race has incumbents Eric Owens and Howard Robinson both seeking reelection in Region I. In Region II, Mary-Laura Buchner-Hulse and Jen Harrison have filed for one seat that is up for election. In Region III, incumbent school board president Joseph Tighe has filed for reelection. Four people have filed for the two district-wide at-large seats: incumbents Robert Tenga and Mark Patterson and Sherri Matis-Mitchell and Denita Wright Watson.
In East Nottingham Township, there are three supervisor seats up for election this year because of two resignations on the board. Republican David Smoker has filed to fill the six-year term on the board. For the unexpired two-year term, William Weaver, a Republican, has filed for the position. For the unexpired four-year term, Phillip Brenner, Jr. has filed for the Democratic nomination, while John Wallace has filed for the Republican nomination.
In Elk Township, Milt Rudy has filed for a six-year term on the board of supervisors.
Incumbent Joel Brown is running for a six-year term on the Lower Oxford Township Board of Supervisors.
In Upper Oxford Township, Republican Scott Rugan is seeking reelection to another six-year term.
Antonio Pedulla is seeking the Democratic nomination while William Winand is seeking the Republican nomination in West Nottingham Township.