The race for Chester County offices in 2019
● By J. Chambless
Josh Maxwell is a lifelong resident of Chester County, and is serving in his third term as Downingtown’s mayor. First elected in 2010 as Downingtown’s youngest mayor at the age of 26, he has been an active advocate for the environment, infrastructure investment, and equality. As Mayor, Josh has balanced six straight no-tax-increase budgets, negotiated the largest public and private investment in Downingtown’s history in the form of a transit-oriented and train station development, and has been a vocal advocate for drug treatment and domestic violence charities. Besides serving in the part-time mayoral position, Josh works as a USAID contractor, developing international development programs around the world. He holds a BA from West Chester University and an MPA from the University of Pennsylvania.
Marian Moskowitz has dedicated the last 28 years to strengthening the community. As a local developer, Marian revitalizes properties to benefit all members of the community. She redeveloped an abandoned factory in Phoenixville into an education and business hub known as Franklin Commons. For the past 12 years, Marian has served on the board of West Chester University. Marian also serves as president of the historic Colonial Theater and has assisted organizations that provide the region with economic and healthcare opportunities.
Michelle Haris Kichline is the Chair of Chester County’s Board of County Commissioners. She has served on the Board of Commissioners since 2014, when she was appointed to fill the term previously held by Commissioner Ryan Costello. She was appointed unanimously by the judiciary of the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County. In November 2015, she was elected to a full four-year term as a Commissioner for Chester County. Commissioner Kichline was selected by her fellow commissioners to co-chair VISTA 2025, Chester County’s public/private economic development initiative for Chester County.
Prior to her appointment, and subsequent election as a Chester County Commissioner, she served on Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors from 2010 to 2013, which she chaired for the last two years of her tenure. Commissioner Kichline also served on Tredyffrin Township’s Zoning Hearing Board and was its first female chair in 2007.
Terence Farrell began his first term as Commissioner in 2008, and served as Chairman of the Board of Commissioners for 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2015. Under his leadership, the board advanced its development of a strategic plan to increase efficiency in the county's operations, passed a balanced budget without raising taxes and reaffirmed the county's award-winning open space preservation program for the next decade. He believes we must meet the fiscal challenges imposed by reductions in state and federal funding to the county, while still providing the quality of services our citizens have come to expect in an accountable, responsible manner.
He is also a licensed realtor, holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Carleton College, and Graduate Certificates in Public Administration and Public Personnel Administration from Indiana State University.
Court of Common Pleas Judicial Seats
Analisa Sondergaard, a 1994 graduate of Temple University School of Law, spent seven years as a prosecutor at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the next 17 years as a civil litigator. In 2011, she was elected to serve as Magisterial District Judge in District Court 15-4-01 (parts of East Whiteland and Tredyffrin), where she enjoys an excellent reputation among the police, legal community, and colleagues. She hopes to continue to represent and serve the residents of Chester County as a Court of Common Pleas judge.
Bret Binder defeated an 18-year incumbent in 2017 to become the Magisterial District Judge in District 15-1-01, the busiest magisterial district court in Chester County. He is also a local attorney and the founder and managing partner of Binder & Canno, LLC, as well as a former law clerk for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. His practice focuses on small business, real estate, and commercial litigation. He earned his law degree at Villanova University School of Law and his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He served on the West Chester Area School District Board in 2014-15 and has been on the board of numerous local non-profits, including the Chester County OIC, which focuses on adult literacy, as well a group dedicated to preserving open space in West Chester.
Charles “Chuck” Gaza is a veteran of both the United States Army and Air Force. He is the Chief of Staff for the Chester County District Attorney’s Office and has more than two decades of legal experience in both Civil and Criminal Courts. He is one of two candidates on the ballot for judge who was voted qualified by the Chester County Bar Association.
A graduate of Pennsylvania State University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, he started his legal career with the Judge Advocate General’s Office for the United States Air Force. In 2001, he returned to his home state of Pennsylvania and served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Chester County District Attorney’s Office. In 2008, he left the District Attorney’s Office and worked as a solo practioner in Kennett Square until returning to the District Attorney’s Office in 2012.
Since returning to the DA’s Office, he has been the Chief of Staff, handling the daily management of major case investigations, supervising the specialized prosecution units and acting as the liaison between the DA’s Office and the 46 municipal and state police departments in Chester County. During his 22 years practicing law, Chuck has tried over 75 jury trials covering everything from homicide to DUI. For the last seven years Chuck has focused on fighting the opioid epidemic in Chester County.
The Democratic candidate for District Attorney, Deb Ryan, has spent her career advocating for justice on behalf of children and adults who were victimized by crime and violence. For 15 years, she worked in the Philadelphia and Chester County District Attorneys’ Offices, and served as the Deputy District Attorney in charge of the Child Abuse Unit and Children’s Advocacy Center.
As the Chester County District Attorney, I will continue to give a voice to the voiceless and to seek justice for victims in a fair and respectful way. As your next Chester County District Attorney, she promises:
I will always place victims first.
I will promote community safety through criminal justice reform.
I will focus on prevention and education.
I will be an active partner in our community and collaborate with all stakeholders.
I will hold the District Attorney’s Office to the highest standards.
As a criminal prosecutor and First Assistant District Attorney, Michael Noone has handled cases – both in and out of the courtroom – involving murder, rape and sexual assault, child and elder abuse, drug distribution, theft and robbery, DUI, and more. He has nearly 20 years of legal experience. Highlights of his service to the Chester County District Attorney’s Office include leading the successful prosecution of the Scotty McMillan child abuse and murder case, securing justice in one of the worst cases in Chester County history; helping found, and serving as Co-Chair of, Chester County’s Overdose Prevention Task Force that has helped reduce overdose deaths in the community; working for safer schools across Chester County as a member of the Safe Schools Summit planning committee; and preventing elder abuse in Chester County by coordinating a multi-disciplinary approach as a member of the Executive Committee of the Elder Abuse Task Force.
He has been overseeing the administration of the Chester County District Attorney’s Office as First Assistant District Attorney for the past eight years. He has helped implement reforms including expanding diversionary programs for non-violent, non-repeat drug offenders, implementing best practices for eye-witness investigations, supporting the use of body cameras for police, and more.
In 2017, Debbie Bookman became a member of Coatesville City Council, winning the primary election against an eight-year incumbent as a write-in on both the Democratic and Republican ballots, and later winning the general election. She is a liaison to the city’s administration, providing support for internal processes in day-to-day operations. She is also liaison to the finance department, assisting them in balancing a $10 million budget by identifying areas of savings, allowing Council to adopt a budget with no tax increase. She is a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, providing many successful events. She is also a representative on Western Chester County Council of Governments, Vice-President and Treasurer of the Community Youth and Women Alliance’s Board, and works with families and women on homelessness and drug addiction.
Matt Holliday has served as Chester County Prothonotary since he was elected in 2015. The Prothonotary serves as the chief clerk of the civil and family courts for the county, and provides other services, such as U.S. passports to the public. Since his election, Holliday has implemented an e-filing process for court documents, acceptance of credit cards as a form of payment in the office, begun digitizing of all the old microfilm, and set up a system for the staff to scan in old cases into the system so that files from the 1980s and 1990s can be searchable on a database and the images are available to the public.
He also closed 1,857 inactive cases that were left open by the previous administration. Under Holliday’s leadership, the office has also improved their county website to give better instructions regarding passport applications. He brought the office expenses in under the department’s budgeted amount for 2017 and 2018 without eliminating staff, and while still providing raises to everyone in the department each year.
Holliday serves on 13 boards of local non-profits. He is the past president of both the West Chester Public Library and the West Chester University Alumni Association. He is the current president of two organizations: the DVCCC and the West Chester Downtown Foundation. He will also become the president of the West Chester Rotary Club and Friends Association for Care and Protection of Children in July 2019.
Recorder of Deeds
Chris Pielli is a West Goshen Township Supervisor, and has been twice elected Democratic State Committeeperson. He is a U.S. Army veteran and a longtime Chester County resident. He attended Temple University Law School while working at the Chester County Prison, where he was employed as a Correctional Officer and Correctional Counselor. He also served as a part-time Chester County Public Defender for five years while establishing his own practice. Chris is now employed at the law firm of Pine & Pine, LLP, specializing in estate and probate matters, including recording of deeds. He has been a Program Coordinator for the Chester County OIC Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, Workforce Reintegration Program, and the at-risk youth Career Corps Program.
Amber Little-Turner’s career in public service began when she worked for former Magisterial District Judge Gwenn Knapp in her West Chester office. She also worked closely with Harry Lewis during his time as a State Representative in the 74th District. In 2010, Amber started her own business as an independent contractor, helping local residents gain access to legal services and navigate the legal system. She currently works as a field representative for Senator Pat Toomey. A resident of Coatesville, she has been an active member of the Republican Committee of Chester County, holding various positions such as Republican Committee of Chester County Committeewoman, Vice Chair of the Republican Woman of Chester County, and Executive Board Secretary of the RCCC.
Register of Wills
As a business and technology leader, Michele Vaughn has more than 30 years of management experience. In her current position as a Consumer Medical Technology Leader, she is responsible for shaping IT strategies, managing projects and developing programs. In her role as a Township Supervisor, she oversaw the management of more than 50 employees, addressed personnel issues, and worked with union and legal representatives to ensure employees were working effectively and being paid fairly. She also launched East Whiteland Township’s first Community Health Day and Senior Citizens Day to connect individuals in the community with health resources they desperately needed. Through a partnership with Fox Chase Cancer Center, free mammograms were provided to uninsured and under-insured women throughout Chester County.
Terri Clark is the Register of Wills/Clerk of the Orphans' Court. She was elected in 2011 and is seeking re-election in 2019. Before holding office, she worked as Executive Assistant to the Controller at the Chester County Controller's Office. She has previously worked in the West Chester Area School District and was a West Chester Area School District Board Director. She has been an active member of the Republican Party by holding two chair positions and working on numerous campaign committees.
Since taking office in 2011, her initiatives have included enabling the office to accept credit card payment, converting old microfilm to searchable PDF documents, and setting up a new guardian tracking system that protects seniors from physical and financial abuse. She also makes off-site visits to bedridden people, many of them veterans, who need marriage licenses. The Register of Wills Office continues to cut their discretionary spending budget in order to help the county avoid raising taxes.
Fredda Maddox is one of the first women to serve as a Pennsylvania State Trooper in Chester County. A narcotics agent for the Bureau of Narcotics in the PA Office of the Attorney General, she served in the Bureau of Criminal Investigations as a special agent. A law enforcement veteran and practicing attorney of 20-plus years, she holds a law degree from Widener University School of Law and a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from West Chester University. She pledges to restore trust between law enforcement and culturally diverse groups, while returning oversight and accountability to the Sheriff’s Office.
Jim Fitzgerald is a newcomer to the political arena. he is a retired special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served the FBI for more than 26 years, and was on active duty in the Marines for 10 years prior to that time. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on an NROTC scholarship and earned a Master of Science Degree in management from Troy State University. He was an active supporter of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts when his children were younger. He was also active for approximately 15 years as a coach, age commissioner, and referee with the West Chester United Soccer Club.
Having already worked closely with many of the police departments in the county, he will maximize the contribution of the Sheriff’s office to the overall law enforcement effort in the county.