Historic wins for Democrats
● By Steven Hoffman
The Democratic Party surged to an historic win on Election Day, capturing a majority on the three-person Chester County Board of Commissioners for the first time as Marian Moskowitz (70,842 votes) and Josh Maxwell (68,914 votes) emerged as the top two vote-getters in the race. Incumbent Republican Michelle Kichline (63,779 votes) edged Terence Farrell (62,287 votes) to win the third seat on the board. All the vote totals are unofficial until they are certified.
Democrats also flipped a series of row offices that have long been held by Republicans. Deb Ryan won the District Attorney race, Fredda Maddox is the new sheriff, and Debbie Bookman is the new prothonotary. Michele Vaughn won the race to become the register of wills and Chris Pielli won the recorder of deeds race to complete the sweep for the Democrats.
The get-out-the-vote effort played a significant role in the Democrats’ victory. Democrats edged republicans in straight party votes by a margin of 53 to 46 across the county, and candidates with a “D” next to their name won an unprecedented number of local races in southern Chester County.
The Kennett Square area has been near the epicenter of the democratic groundswell.
Wayne Braffman, the chair of the Kennett Area Democrats, said that the historic wins by Democrats could be attributed to three factors.
“The democratic sweep in Chester County was the result of three forces converging in a perfect political storm,” Braffman said. “There were highly motivated and energetic democratic volunteers who worked like never before. The democrats had an exceptional slate of highly qualified candidates. And voters across the political spectrum are rejecting the President and the once-respectable party he has hijacked.”
Democrats scored unprecedented victories in the Philadelphia collar counties. Republicans, meanwhile flipped some counties that had been controlled by democrats in more rural parts of western Pennsylvania. It certainly sets up an interesting situation in 2020, when voter turnout could surge to unprecedented heights.
As it was, turnout for the 2019 off-year election was extraordinary. In 2015, the last time that the Chester County Commissioners were up for election, Terence Farrell was the top vote-getter with 44,712 votes. In the election last week, Farrell’s vote total was 62,287. And he finished fourth in a four-person race. In 2019, Marian Moskowitz received the most votes in the Chester County Commissioners race with 70,842 votes. So in just four years, the number of votes it took to finish in first place in the same race jumped by 26,000 votes. The get-out-the-vote effort made all the difference in the 2019 election, and those efforts will only increase in 2020.
Here’s a look at some of the other results throughout southern Chester County:
Democrats sweep the Oxford Borough Council races
A team of Democratic candidates swept the races for seats on Oxford Borough Council. With three seats up for grabs, incumbent Peggy Ann Russell, Kathryn Goodley Cloyd and Mary Higgins emerged as the top three vote-getters in the field of six candidates.
Dr. Richard Winchester, the fourth member of the team of Democrats, won the election for a two-year term on Oxford Borough Council, completing the sweep for the team.
Democrat Paul Morgan and Republican David Besselman won full terms on Avondale Borough Council, while Robert McCue won the two-year unexpired term.
In Kennett Square Borough, incumbent council president Doug Doerfler won re-election, while a pair of Democrats, Mayra Zavala and Rosa Garza Moore, won seats on borough council.
With four seats up for election in West Grove, Elizabeth Garduno, Kristin Proto, Karen Beltran, and Fred Boyce won seats on borough council. All four ran as Democrats and emerged with wins in a crowded field.
A sweep in Avon Grove
Voters in the Avon Grove School District weighed in on the current direction of the school district, including the construction of a new high school, by re-electing the core group of school board members who set Avon Grove on this path—school board president Tracy Lisi and Jeffrey Billig (in Region II) and Herman Engel and Bonnie Wolff (in Region III). The victories were by a wide margin. Additionally, Dr. Dorothy Linn, a retired superintendent who publicly supported the high school plan, out-polled incumbent Republican Charles Beatty in Region I, winning by a margin of 58 percent to 41 percent.
School board races in Kennett, Oxford, and Unionville-Chadds Ford
In the Oxford Area School District, Bob Tenga and Mark Patterson were both re-elected in district-wide at-large races, fending off the challenge of Denita Wright Watson and Sherri Matis-Mitchell.
In Region I, Howard Robinson won re-election for another four-year term, while incumbent Dr. Eric Owens won a two-year unexpired term. Robinson and Owens were both unopposed.
Jen Harrison captured 57 percent of the vote to win an open seat in Region II. She was opposed by Mary-Laura Buchner-Hulse.
In Region III, school board president Joseph Tighe was unopposed and won another four-year term.
There were six seats on the Kennett School Board up for election. In Region A, a pair of newcomers, Maribel Garcia and Ann Parry, emerged with wins by out-polling the incumbents, Dominic Perigo and Steve Ciprani. Also in Region A, Ryan Bowers was unopposed in his bid to win a two-year unexpired term on the board. In Region B, school board president Joseph Meola and David Kronenberg won the two seats. Incumbent Michael Finnegan won re-election in Region C.
In the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, Rashi Akki (Region A) and Victoria Baratta (Region B) were unopposed and won re-election. In Region C, with three seats up for grabs, John P. Murphy, Jen Brown, and Erin Talbert emerged with victories in a field of five candidates.
There were numerous board of supervisor races decided on Election Day.
One of the most hotly contested races was in Franklin Township. Voters elected Mary McVeigh and David Gerstenhaber, a pair of Democrats, over incumbent Republican David Snyder and Brent Van Lith.
Another highly contested race was for a seat on the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors. Incumbent Democrat Richard Leff emerged with a victory, defeating Republican Hunter Tower by a margin of 55 percent to 43 percent.
In Lower Oxford Township, Democrat Noel Roy defeated Republican incumbent Joel Brown by a margin of 53 percent to 47 percent.
In Penn Township, the bipartisan team of incumbent Democrat Victor Mantegna and Republican Laura Sperratore won the two seats on the Board of Supervisors.
London Grove Township voters elected Christine Allison, a Democrat, and Kevin Runey, a Republican, from a field of four candidates.
In London Britain Township, Brian Samuel Sachs defeated Russell McKinnon, 61 percent to 38 percent.
Republican incumbent John Sarro and Democrat Eric Matuszak won election to the East Marlborough Board of Supervisors. Kathryn Monahan won a two-year term to the board.
In East Nottingham Township, David Smoker won a full term on the board of supervisors, while John Wallace won a four-year term. William Weaver emerged with a victory in a bid for a two-year term.
William Winand, a Republican, won a seat on the West Nottingham Township Board of Supervisors by defeating Democrat Antonio Pedulla.
Scott Rugen was unopposed and was re-elected to the Upper Oxford Township Board of Supervisors. The same can be said of Milt Rudy (Elk Township Board of Supervisors) and Mary Anne Steel (New London Township Board of Supervisors).