Friday, November 2, 2007

Phoenix Newspaper Article - November 02, 2007;jsessionid=zyNBHrvdXwnvhg1ngGQvpT51TNXhJDxJ9QLvC8P3YcLv2Yzn2zfD!-1953013726?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pg_article&r21.pgpath=%2FPVN%2FHome&r21.content=%2FPVN%2FHome%2FTopStoryList_Story_817734

Ex-councilwoman faces ex-Marine in East Ward race

PHOENIXVILLE — It’s between a past two-term councilwoman and a former Marine for the East Ward borough council seat, as it’ll be Karen Johns and Michael Speck vying for votes during the November 6 municipal elections.

Speck will be running on the Democratic card, while Johns will be representing the Republicans, although she is a life-long registered Democrat.

During the primaries May 15, incumbent East Ward council member Tish Jones lost a heated three-way Democratic race to Borough Party Committee member Mike Speck, and former Democratic Council member Karen Johns mounted a successful write-in campaign for the Republican nomination.

Johns, a life-long resident who served two terms on Council from 1994 through 2001, stresses “the apparent need for some historical continuity” in Borough Hall.

“I want a return to more effective and accountable local government,” she said. “I want Phoenixville to meet and exceed its current potential with a Borough Council which is more mindful of, accessible and responsive to the needs of its 15,000+ citizens.”

Drawing on her previous experience, Johns said she’s willing to work hard for her constituents.

“This campaign has been done with the knowledge of the amount of time that it requires and sacrifices needed to become a good councilman,” she said. “In the past, I’ve maintained a proactive attitude and I always put 110 percent into anything I do. I know it’s going to be more work in my daily schedule than what has been there over the past several years. I wouldn’t have run if I didn’t feel this was necessary."

“I want to be a clear voice for my constituents, as well as for the rest of the residents. I’ll bring experience to the table. and if we speak of change for the borough, in specific, on council, I believe you have to have the experience behind you to inact change.”

Johns said that change has to occur within council to make up for previous errors.

“Change has to be made in decision making, with more common sense being used,” she said.

“The in-house trash snafu was a serious error. I believe, as public servants, it is up to us to spend money wisely and use common sense. I did a study back in the 1990s during my second term, and revealed to council that the initial year was a wash, no higher or lower.

“But immediately after that, all associated costs jumped. Now we are in a time where fuel is extremely volatile as in price. This is one of the aspects associated with in-house hauling that wasn’t taken into consideration. We have to learn from history. We had discussions with some council members, some who are still there, and they didn’t listen to what I had to say. Now we are paying for that mistake.”

In regards to public perception, Johns said that attitudes need some readjusting.

“Change has to come in the form of attitudes,” she said. “This particular council is perceived by the public as one of the worst. This perception has grown from the very beginning since they hired the current borough manager, who is a former Democratic council member. That was another serious error in judgement.”

Johns said that she doesn’t know Speck very well, and that she’d only met him briefly on several occasions. “We only exchanged a few words,” she said.

Johns has been involved in a broad range of community groups, from Phoenixville Little League to the Phoenixville Area Economic Development Corporation and the 1999 Sesquicentennial Commission.

Speck, a 20-year resident of the Borough, holds a B.A. in criminal justice and sociology from LaSalle University. He served with the Marine Corps for six years.
Speck now works with troubled youth as Communication Center coordinator at St. Gabriel’s Hall; he has served St. Gabriel’s also as residential manager for the pre-adolescent unit, and as a supervisor and acting director of the program for first-time offenders.
Running for council for the first time, Speck said he wants to bring a new energy and enthusiasm into borough hall.

“I’ve been involved in politics and I think I can contribute to the running of our community,” said Speck. “My campaign motto has been ‘A new energy and new enthusiasm, to listen, to serve, to do’.”

Stating he hasn’t been ‘inspired by the current representative of the East Ward’, Speck said he became motivated to run for council.

“I haven’t been inspired by our current representative of the East Ward,” he said. “I had to submit 15 signatures, and I ended up collecting 150 of them. If I’m going to do this, I’m going all the way.

From his contact with the public so far, Speck said he feels he’s been getting a good response.
“I made it a personal goal of getting 1,000 contacts,” he said. “I personally delivered my message by handout literature on my own. The response I’ve been getting has been motivating.”

Speck said that should he be elected into council, the first thing he’d like to repair is the council’s reputation.

“I’d like the public to have more of a respect for council,” he said. “I’d like to lead by example. I want to talk to people eye to eye. If someone has an e-mail or question, I’d like to come to their house and discuss things with them. I want to encourage people to come out to meetings. I would anticipate East Ward residents to come out and participate in meetings. That would be one of my own personal goals I’d like to set for myself.

“The key to our community is open honest communicating and I’m ready and anxious to serve. I wouldn’t be out there, working as hard as I am, and trying to earn the public’s trust. The race in the East has been interesting. I went out there and was successful in my campaign. I wasn’t worried about the incumbent in this race. I’ve been continuing to get my message out to the public. You’ve seen the past, you see what we had in the present, and I offer the energy for the future.”

Speck said that he’s met Johns a few times at committee meetings. “We’ve been cordial back and forth,” he said.

Speck serves in Phoenixville as a member of the Youth Aid Panel, and as a member of the American Legion and Kiwanis.


Anonymous said...

Karen good luck. In the East Ward race, I think both candidates are great, however I will be voting for Speck. If you win, I think you will be super just like Mike.

Karen said...

Thank you, Anonymous, for visiting my campaign website and for your comments!

This is what I absolutely LOVE about Phoenixville.

We are a people passionate about our politics and political candidates, and we aren't shy about voicing our opinions.

Thank you for your honesty, Anonymous, and for your kind words!

Anonymous said...

dear anonymous. it's great that we live in america, and have the ability to voice our opinion and can vote for whoever, but please do tell why you would vote for Speck over someone so infinitely qualified for the position of borough council as karen johns? obviously you have your opinions, but please educate the rest of us based on pure logic.

Anonymous said...

I really would like to know why it is that so many of your signs have "flown away". Do candidates and their volunteers know how small that is and how much time and money go into that? I keep seeing more and more Speck signs but less and less Johns signs.

Also what is the deal with the Speck postcard and the picture with Congressman Sestack?

Karen said...

Thank you, Anonymous, for your comments and questions.

I will start another thread on your topic.

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous, Thanks for bring up the point about the sign's "flying away". I had a sign "disappear" from my front yard too. Obviously, someone is scared that Karen is going to win that they have to remove her signs. If people are willing to do that, what will they do if they get into office???