Election Day 2019:
By Steven Hoffman
Election Day is now less than three weeks away.
When voters go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5, they will be making decisions on a variety of county-wide races, including the highly contested race for three seats on the Chester County Board of Commissioners, the contests to elect a new district attorney and a new sheriff, and several county row offices. At the local level, there are various school board races as well as contests for seats on borough council. Township residents will be selecting supervisors to fill the seats that are up for election this year, as well as tax collectors and auditors.
On Election Day, the polls are open in Pennsylvania from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Republicans still hold an edge in the number of registered voters across the county—148,629 to 138,281 at the time of the Primary Election, but the margin has been narrowing in recent years.
In 2018, Democrats made historic gains, winning all the county row offices that were on the ballot that year. Will this be the election when Democrats win two of the seats on the three-person Chester County Board of Commissioners? The Primary Election results suggest that it’s at least possible. During the Primary Election in May, more Democrats went to the polls than Republicans. There were 30,070 ballots cast on the Democratic side, while Republicans cast 26,272 ballots. Total voter turnout across the county was at 19.60 percent. Democrats turned out at 21.75 percent, while Republicans turned out at 17.68 percent. Many of the races throughout Chester County could be tight enough to be decided based on get-out-the-vote efforts.
The Chester County Press started its election coverage in the Oct. 9 edition, and there are stories about a few contested races in this edition as well. The election coverage will continue in the coming weeks, with a focus on some of the more highly contested races, but for now here’s a quick overview of some of the contests that will be decided by voters on Election Day:
In the race for three seats on the Chester County Board of Commissioners, Republican incumbents Terence Farrell and Michelle Kichline are seeking re-election, hoping to maintain a majority on the three-person board. Democrats Josh Maxwell and Marian Moskowitz could make a little bit of history if they manage to win two seats, tipping the board in their party’s favor.
Republican Michael Noone and Democrat Deb Ryan are vying to become the new District Attorney of Chester County.
In the Chester County Sheriff race, where the incumbent, Carolyn Welsh, is retiring, Republicans nominated Jim Fitzgerald, while Democrats nominated Fredda Maddox for the race to fill the open position.
The Chester County Prothonotary race will be between incumbent Matt Holliday, who earned the Republican nomination, and Democrat Debbie Bookman, who won by a wide margin in the Primary.
The Register of Wills contest will be between Republican incumbent Terri Clark and Democrat Michele Vaughn.
Democrat Chris Pielli is vying with Republican Amber Little-Turner in the race to serve as the county’s next Recorder of Deeds,
Chester County residents will be electing two judges to serve on the Court of Common Pleas. Republicans nominated Charles Gaza and Andrea Cardamone in this race, while Democrats selected Analisa Sondergaard and Brett Binder.
In municipal elections, there are several hotly contested races for seats on borough council.
In Kennett Square Borough, voters will elect three people to seats on borough council. Incumbent council president Doug Doerfler is in a very strong position because he earned the nominations on both the Republican and Democratic ballot. The same is true of Rosa Garza Moore, who is seeking her first term on council. Mayra Zavala earned the nomination on the Democratic side, while Lorenzo Merino, who was appointed to fill a vacancy on council earlier this year, was nominated for a seat by Republicans.
In the Oxford Borough Council race, there are six candidates vying for three seats. The only incumbent seeking re-election is council vice president Peggy Ann Russell. She has joined forces with fellow Democrats Kathryn Goodley Cloyd and Mary Higgins. On the Republican side, Philip Harris, Mary Lou Baily and Michele Rich-Ianieri are the candidates. Additionally, there is a two-year unexpired term on the ballot. Richard C. Winchester is challenging Randy Grace in this contest. Grace was appointed earlier this year to fill a vacancy on council. Winchester, a Democrat, is aligned with the three Democrats seeking four-year terms on council.
There are seven candidates vying for four seats on West Grove Borough Council: Elizabeth Garduno, Karen Beltran, Kristin Proto, and Fred Boyce earned the Democratic nominations, while Charles Donovan, Michael Ranieri and Clyde Jacobs, II are the Republican candidates.
In Avondale Borough, there are three candidates—Democrat Paul Morgan and Republicans Stepehn Cummings and David Besselman—vying for two seats on borough council. Robert McCue, a Republican, is seeking to fill a two-year unexpired term.
Kennett Township, London Grove Township, and Franklin Township are a few of the municipalities that will have contested races for seats on the board of supervisors on Nov. 5, while in many other municipalities the longtime incumbents have a clear path to reelection.
In Kennett Township, incumbent Richard Leff is being challenged by Republican Hunter Tower.
Franklin Township has two supervisor seats up for election this year. David Gerstenhaber and Mary McVeigh are the Democrats in the race, while the Republicans are Brent Van Lith and incumbent David Snyder.
In London Grove Township, where two seats are up for election, Christine Allison and Dina Manceva are the Democrats in the race, while the Republican nominees are Kevin Runey and Richard Scott-Harper. Scott-Harper is an incumbent.
Incumbent John Sarro and Shelley May Mincer are the Republicans who are seeking the two seats that are up for grabs in East Marlborough Township, while Eric Matuszk and Robert Jerger are the Democrats. There is also an unexpired two-year term up for election in East Marlborough Township: Bruce Jameson is the Republican nominee for the two-year term, while Kathryn Monahan is the Democrat on the ballot.
Republican incumbents Randy Geouque and Richard Ayotte are seeking reelection to the New Garden Township Board of Supervisors. On the Democratic side, the challengers are David Unger and Kristie Brodowski.
In Penn Township, there will be three candidates vying for two seats on the Penn Township Board of Supervisors. Longtime incumbent Democrat Victor Mantegna is seeking reelection, while Ronald Hill is a Democratic nominee and Laura Sperratore is the Republican nominee.
In New London Township, Mary Anne Steel, a Democrat, is seeking a seat on the board of supervisors.
In West Nottingham Township, Democrat Antonio Pedulla is challenging incumbent Republican William Winand for a seat on the township’s board of supervisors.
In East Nottingham Township, Republican P. David Smoker is seeking a full term on the board of supervisors. Then, for an unexpired four-year term, Democrat Philip Brenner, Jr. and John Wallace are vying for the seat. William Weaver is seeking to fill an unexpired two-year term.
In Elk Township, Republican nominee Milt Rudy is seeking election to the board of supervisors.
In London Britain Township, Republican Russell McKinnon and Democrat Brian Samuel Sachs will be vying for a seat on the board of supervisors.
Upper Oxford Township supervisor Scott Rugen is seeking reelection and locked up the Republican nomination. The same can be said of Joel Brown in Lower Oxford Township.
There are two at-large seats up for election on the Oxford School board, with incumbent Republicans Mark Patterson and Bob Tenga being challenged by Democrats Sherri Matis-Mitchell and Dnita Wright Watson. Howard Robinson, an incumbent, is seeking reelection in Region I and is unopposed. In Region II, the contest is between Democrat Mary-Laura Buchner-Hulse and Republican Jen Harrison. In Region III, Joseph Tighe, the incumbent school board president, is unopposed. Eric Owens, an incumbent, is a candidate for a two-year unexpired term in Region I.
In Avon Grove, the contest in Region I is between incumbent Charles Beatty and challenger Dorothy Linn. In Region II, incumbent school board members Tracy Lisi (current school board president) and Jeffrey Billig are both seeking reelection, while challenger Mark Stewart Jr. is hoping to win one of the seats. Longtime school board members Bonnie Wolff and Herman Engel are seeking reelection in Region III. The challenger is Christina Fanning.
In Kennett School Board races, the candidates for two seats in Region A are incumbent Republicans Dominic Perigo Jr. and Steven Ciprani and Democrats Maribel Garcia and Ann Parry. In Region B, David Kronenberg and Joseph Meola are the candidates for the two seats on the board. Meola is an incumbent and the current school board president. In Region C, incumbent Michael Finnegan is unopposed. Ryan Bowers is a candidate for a two-year unexpired term in Region A.
In the Unionville-Chadds Ford School district, Rashi Akki is unopposed for a seat in Region A and Victoria Baratta is unopposed for a seat in Region B. In Region C, with three seats up for election, the candidates are Erin Talbert, Jen Brown, John P. Murphy, Steve Jones, and Jon Trigg.
Voters throughout Pennsylvania will weigh in on a proposed Constitutional Amendment regarding crime victim rights. The ballot question is, “Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to grant certain rights to crime victims, including to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity; considering their safety in bail proceedings; timely notice and opportunity to take part in public proceedings; reasonable protection from the accused; right to refuse discovery requests made by the accused; restitution and return of property; proceedings free from delay; and to be informed of these rights, so they can enforce them?” For those who want more information about this ballot question, the Chester County Department of Voter Services website offers a detailed explanation of this ballot question.
Voters will also consider a series of retention questions regarding judges at various levels. Pennsylvania voters will respond to questions about the retention of Superior Court judges: “Shall Anne E. Lazarus be retained for an additional term as Judge of the Superior Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?” and “Shall Judy Olsen be retained for an additional term as Judge of the Superior Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?”
There are also retention questions regarding judges on the Commonwealth Court: “Shall Kevin Brobson be retained for an additional term as Judge of the Commonwealth Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?” and “Shall Patricia A. McCullough be retained for an additional term as Judge of the Commonwealth Court of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?”
Chester County voters will respond to the retention question: “Shall William P. Mahon be retained for an additional term as Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, 15th Judicial District, Chester County?”
For a full list of candidates as well as sample ballots, visit the Chester County government website and follow the link from the Department of Voter Services page.