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Chester County Press

Gamble sworn in as new Kennett Township supervisor

01/04/2022 03:17PM ● By Richard Gaw

Courtesy photo        Geoffrey Gamble was sworn in as the newest member of the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors at the township’s reorganization meeting on Jan. 3.

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

Before a small audience at the Kennett Township Building, nearly 50 watching from their computer screens and in front of his fellow board members Richard Leff and Scudder Stevens, Geoffrey Gamble was sworn in as the newest Kennett Township Supervisor at the township’s reorganization meeting on Jan. 3.

After taking the oath of office before Chester County Magisterial Judge Albert Iacocca, Gamble addressed the township, urging its governance to move from its current warp speed of initiatives to a more deliberate, step-by-step operation. In his address, he acknowledged the still-lingering albatross that hangs over the township -- former township manager Lisa Moore’s theft of more than $3.2 million of township funds -- which resulted in her being sentenced to a minimum of three years in a women’s correctional facility in October. Moore’s crime, he said, has left the township a victim of trauma, and that it will take work for the municipality to recover.  

“We need to take the time to do things right,” he said. “We need to develop consensus, and ideally collaboration, around the important issues that we face. Consensus entails compromise. Compromise is not a weak word; it is essential to any meaningful progress. “We should demand outstanding performance from our township staff, but we also need to give them a fair measure of office tranquility to achieve their goals. No one person, no matter how brilliant, has all the answers.

“Kennett Township has been here for more than three centuries and will be here long after we have gone,” Gamble added. “We must work to add to our own collective municipal genius, not destroy it by willful obfuscation.”

Work beyond political affiliations

Gamble, who defeated Whitney Hoffman in November, becomes the lone GOP on a board that has been for the last several years made up entirely of Democrats. Urging local government to work beyond the rigid definitions of political affiliation, he defined himself on the national level as a conservative Republican, and on the state level as a Libertarian.

“On the township level, I could easily be a Democrat, because I share in many of [my fellow board members’] goals, such as open space and the Kennett Greenway, but these need to be achieved in a fiscally responsible way,” Gamble said. “On the neighborhood level, I am probably a Socialist; we share food up and down the lane on which we live.”

Gamble acknowledged that a “coarseness” has invaded the national public discussion and trickled down to the confines of local politics, one he described as a “virus.”

“We can and should disagree, but we should never be disagreeable in the process,” he said. “As a Republican, I am obviously in the minority party among the supervisors. My Democrat colleagues are both very talented and experienced men, and have much to offer in their unique ways. I am frank to tell you that I don’t even know what I don’t know, but I shall learn, and I’ll work with them seeking consensus and collaboration at every opportunity.

“Let me end with a promise to you that I shall always put what I perceive to be the township’s best interests first.”

Other township appointments

In other significant township appointments for 2022, Jeanne McManus was sworn in to her position as township auditor; Leff will resume his duties as Board of Supervisors chairman; Stevens will serve as the board’s vice chairman; manager Eden Ratliff was appointed township secretary and right-to-know officer; finance director Amy Heinrich was appointed as township treasurer; Matthew Gordon will resume his duties as chief of police; Diane Hicks will continue her role as the township’s director of planning and codes enforcement officer; David Sander will serve as the township’s solicitor; Bruce Mitchell was appointed as fire marshal and A.J. McCarthy and Keystone Municipal Services were named as the township’s deputy fire marshal.

In addition, Stevens was appointed as the township’s voting commissioner for the Kennett Fire and EMS Commission, and Leff was named an alternate.

In township business, the board approved the township’s fire, rescue and ambulance services agreement for 2022 that designates Longwood Fire Company as its primary fire, rescue and emergency service provider, and that the company has been authorized to utilize the Kennett Fire Company in their operations.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, former township board candidate Peter Doehring criticized Leff for the contents of a recently-issued township press release that responded to Doehring’s accusations that Ratliff’s affiliation with Longwood Fire Company represented a conflict of interest.

“Leff’s falsehoods and misleading statements were duly picked up by local news sources and used by Leff’s close allies in political attacks against me on social media,” said Doehring, who issued his remarks via ZOOM. “I have yet to receive even an informal apology from Leff, much less a formal retraction from the township of the various misleading statements and defamatory comments in Leff’s press release.”

Leff did not comment on Doehring’s statement.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].