Friday, November 6, 2009

So, what happened?

Every two years I'm asked the same question.

For the most part, my attempts at a post-election analysis is reserved for family members and close friends, and comes from my perspective as an observer, blogger, and former participant in politics.

This year my comments are public.

November 03, 2009 was an off-year election and these election years historically produce a lower vote than presidential or gubernatorial elections.

In Chester County, we have 327,936 registered voters, and on election day, 72,914 ballots were cast. The results were a measly 22.23% turnout.

Every election is critical and once again a minority of registered voters determined the outcome of an off-year election. Personally, I've never understood why voters don't understand the need to vote in every election. The results of local elections have just as much of an impact as the state and national.

Often times the low turn-out of off-year elections result in the fluke of just a few votes separating the winners and losers.

Phoenixville was not immune.

Every single vote counts!

While some candidates won their seats by a resounding mandate, Mayor Leo Scoda, D, won the Mayor's seat, 1,331, to 836 for Lou Amici, R, a 495 vote lead, several other municipal elections could have gone to either candidate.*

Dave Gautreau, R, garnered 85 more votes than Erin McDevitt, D, in the Middle Ward, 334 to 249, and Rich Kirkner, D, won over Bob Tigro, R, in the North Ward, by 75 votes, 366 to 291.

In the West Ward, Dana Dugan, D, with a slim margin of 23 votes, 218 to 195 over contender Joe Schwartz, R, will hold the Council seat.

In the closest race in the borough, Henry Wagner, D, will return to Phoenixville Borough Council for the Middle Ward. Marc Reber, R, mounted a campaign which brought him to within 7 votes in the 250 to 243 count in Middle Ward results.

For the next four years we will have to live with the newly elected Council members decisions and they with us, their constituents.

Already seated on Council are members who, in my opinion, understand the duties and responsibilities of elected officials and have consistently demonstrated by their actions and votes the need to place our residents concerns and needs first in deliberations.

I commend them. I support them, and I will name those whom I believe meet the criteria I mention.

Mayor Leo Scoda.

Councilman Ken Buckwalter.

Councilman Richard Kirkner.

Councilman Jeff Senley.

The above mentioned representatives aren't always in agreement with each other or the public, they certainly don't walk on water, but they are individually competent, unbiased, and immune to machinations of special interests, in my opinion. They are true public servants. They are accessible to the public, they each have revealed a social conscience, and show no reluctance to put forth an opposing argument to the majority point of view.

This is the type of representation Phoenixville needs.

These men are also among those who will guide, teach, and positively influence the new Council members.

Congratulations to the winners of the election on November 3rd.

In my capacity as a life-long resident, taxpayer, political observer, and as one who sat where you are seated now, a few words to each of the newly elected officials.

Mayor Scoda, continue as you have. You represent Phoenixville in a positive way that only you can. You have earned the respect and admiration of many generations of Phoenixville residents as well as the members of our police department.

Rich Kirkner, you and I go back more years than I care to admit. Privately and in public forums you have been a gentleman, very patient in your dealings with the public and me, and have remained connected to the voters in your ward and throughout Phoenixville. Your concern for the residents is evident, and your many years of experience coupled with your intelligent, thoughtful analysis of issues will serve all of us well.

Dave Gautreau, I've known you also for many years, and like many others in our community I join those who are appreciative of your decision to step forward and offer your time and abilities. In your service to our community your integrity and fairness has been demonstrated often and is equalled by your compassion and good nature. On a personal note, I'm very proud of you and your accomplishments.

Dana Dugan, I've only been in your presence a few times. As a woman, a minority on Council, I look to you for examples of an open mind, for strength of character which will influence and beckon participation in the political process by other women in our community. Here is your opportunity to consciously shoulder the burden of becoming an exemplary Council member. Good luck to you.

Henry Wagner, you are returning to Council by the skin of your teeth. Know that. Own it. The very close results of this election clearly demonstrates, in my opinion, that one-half of the ward's voters have no confidence in you as the incumbent. That fact is humbling to anyone with a desire to leave a positive legacy in the community. By a fluke of numbers you retain your seat; 4 more votes for Marc could have just as easily meant he would be seated in January. Here is your opportunity to prove you are a representative who understands the term public servant.

To the new Council members and the new School Board Directors, I want to close this thread with two statements I publically made repeatedly during the course of my terms on Council. I offer them in hope they hold meaning for you.

Remember, there would be no Phoenixville if it weren't for the people in it. They are the living, breathing heart of our town.

The residents and taxpayers deserve the best representation you can give each of them.

I always wanted to leave my seat after having done what I could to make our part of the world just a little bit better. I desired to be known for what I did FOR the community, not what I did TO it.

There is a vast difference between the two descriptive words. The successful understanding of the difference comes only from self-examination of the personal motives for seeking office, from un-biased and complete understanding of the history of issues as well as the ramifications of subsequent actions of your vote, and by considering the impact on those you have been elected to represent.

Good luck to everyone.

*All results are considered unofficial until certified by Chester County election officials and were obtained from:


Didn'tgetmywish said...

Did anyone count absentee ballots for the Reber / Wagner race ?

Karen said...

All votes cast, including absentee ballots, are counted by each individual precinct board before they are turned over to the county for verification.

Anonymous said...


I will tell you that I am excited will all of the candidates that were elected to Borough Council. When anyone, and I mean anyone, choses to serve Phoenixville, I must stand up and applaud them. As I said to a person of the party opposite of mine, we all do this to make Phoenixville better.


Larry Tillotson

Anonymous said...

Hey Karen,

A post in the Mercury Soundoff stated if the library is giving back the $ 475,000 that Andy Dinneman gave to them in July.Good Question.What is the timeline on monies like that?

Jeff Senley said...


While I believe most of Council shares my opinion, I will speak only for myself in saying that I appreciate your ongoing support and voice.

Ed Naratil said...

Agreed, Jeff. Karen keeps us up to date on various community happenings. Whether or not we agree with her opinions doesn't matter. Here is where we read about matters that could affect/effect our daily lives and/or pocketbooks.

Check out this week's "Phoenix". The whole front page was news about surrounding areas. Nothing about happenings in Phoenixville. This should have been the 'Neighbors' page, not the front page.

And what happened to all the other bloggers: 'Chicken Cacciatore Project'; 'One Small Voice in Phoenixville'; 'Phoenixville Focus'; 'Watching Phoenixville'; and of course 'Councilman Senley's Place'? The writers of these news and opinion blogs seemed to have been on vacation the last couple of months. C'mon, there has to be something on your mind.

Anonymous said...

Here's the problem with those bloggers who are very, very part time. By the time they are motivated to actually add something to their blogs, no one accesses them any more. I had them all in my favorites list and checked them a couple time a day for updates. Since they have gone dormant, I not only no longer check them, I removed them from my Favorites list as well. Karen's is the only one still active and worthwhile. Thanks Karen.

Karen said...

Thank you, Jeff, Ed, and Anonymous for your comments on the blog.

Maintaining a blog is no easy task.

Providing fresh, informative articles is time consuming.

I understand full well the constraints of my fellow bloggers who have jobs in the real world which limits their time and ability to blog maintenance.

There is an ebb and flow to local news and I find myself challenged to create sources of information each and every day.

I welcome input on newsworthy items from the public, and I invite anyone with information which should be published to contact me, and I'll work on an article.

I can be reached by telephone, or through the email address listed below.

Thanks, again, for the kind words.