Who’s Running for Office?

Here’s a recap of the West Chester elections and candidates you will find on the ballot this November. 

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Elections will be held Tuesday, November 5.

This is the time of year lawns fill with signs featuring names I have never heard before. Which begs the question, why is it so hard to find information on local elections? No more. Here’s a recap of the elections and candidates you will find on the ballot this November. 

West Chester Elections:

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The kindness rock movement meets get out the vote. Found on a West Chester stoop.

Borough Council Member 

What is it? West Chester Borough Council directs all activities of the borough except the police department which is directed by the mayor. Borough Council is made up of seven members. Each serving a four-year term. This year only one ward seat is open for election.  

If you live in West Chester Ward 2 you will be electing a councilman to replace current president Diane LeBold who did not seek re-election. 

“I chose to run because I saw too much vulnerability in West Chester. There are too many families who have lived here for generations and are being pushed out of their homes.”

-Nick Allen, candidate, Ward 2 Borough Council

The candidates: 

Nick Allen is a teacher at Fugget Middle School and if successful in his campaign will, at 24, be the youngest person to serve on Council. Housing inequality, education, and a renewable energy policy are priorities for Allen. He is running unopposed. 

I fully believe that national builders are threatening our entire community for personal gain at the expense of taxpayers.”

-Gillian Alicea, write-in candidate Ward 6 Borough Council

Also, running for Borough Council are Michael Stefano, Ward 4 and Bernie Flynn, Ward 6. While neither Stefano and Flynn are are facing a candidate on the ballot, Flynn is being challenged by newcomer Gillian Alicea who is hoping to make a go at it as a write in candidate.

Member of the School Board 

What is it? The school board is made up of nine members each serving a four year term. The members are broken into three geographical regions. West Chester residents are represented by members from region one.   

The candidates: 

Sue Tiernan is retired from a career in teaching and administration with a deep belief that a strong community has at its core a strong public school system. Tiernan currently serves as Vice President of the School Board. She is running for her third term. 

Dr. Kate Shaw has focused her educational career on state and federal educational policy. She is currently Executive Director of Research for Action, a Philadelphia-based educational research firm that studies educational reform and innovation at the local, state, and national levels. This would be her second term.  

Chester County Positions

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Strong sign game.

County Commissioner

What is this? Chester County elects a board of three commissioners to enact and administer county-level ordinances. They also approve budgets, oversee spending and hire county employees. There are currently two positions open on the board. If you have questions about the direction of the county, these are the people you’ll want to direct them too. 

The candidates: 

Josh Maxwell is the three-time mayor of Downingtown. During his tenure he has prioritized fiscal responsibility, investment in transit and has been an advocate for drug treatment. 

Marian Moskowitz is a local developer that favors revitalization of buildings. She recently redeveloped an abandoned factory in Phoenixville into a unique education and business hub. She also sits on the Board of West Chester University.

Terence Ferrell has served on the board since 2008. He counts among this accomplishments fiscal prudence, open space preservation, and introducing live-streaming of Commissioners’ meetings. 

Michelle Kichline is also seeking re-election. Currently Chair of the Board of Commissioners she has served since 2014. During her tenure, the Commission has introduced a public safety training facility for police and first responders and provided emergency personnel with new radios.

Judge of the Court of Common Pleas

What is this? These are the trial level courts. These courts handle most misdemeanor and all felony criminal cases, civil, and family trial matters. If you ever find yourself in the legal systems these are the judges you will likely face. 

The candidates: 

Analisa Sondergarrd began her career as a trial lawyer in Philadelphia’s District Attorney’s office and was elected as Magisterial District Judge in 2011. 

Bret Binder is a local lawyer and Magisterial Court Judge. If the name sounds familiar, Binder also served on the West Chester Area School District Board as well as several other local nonprofits. 

Andrea Cardamone is a deputy district attorney in the county. Earlier this year she was named Chester County Prosecutor of the Year. 

Charles Gaza serves as the county District Attorney Chief of Staff. He has worked for the DA’s office for 12 years. Prior to that he served as a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Air Force.

District Attorney

What is this? In case it’s been a while since you caught an episode of Law and Order, the district attorney is the chief prosecutor in the county. Want more detail? Here’s the job description.

The candidates:

Deb Ryan, a former Chester County Prosecutor of the Year, describes herself as an advocate for children and adults victimized by crime and violence. As District Attorney, she says on her website, “I will continue to give a voice to the voiceless.”

Michael Noone, First Assistant District Attorney, took over the Republican nomination in July after DA Tom Hogan decided not to seek re-election. Noone counts among his accomplishments – work on the Chester County’s Overdose Prevention Task Force, Safe Schools Summit planning committee and the Elder Abuse Task Force.

What do the experts say? Ryan has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 11 in West Chester and the FOP Lodge 66, which represents county officers. While, Noone has the support of the Chester County Police Chiefs Association. It is reportedly the first time the organizations have split their endorsements. 

Sheriff  

What is it: The sheriff is a county-level position responsible for overseeing prisoner transfer, the county jail and maintaining security at local government buildings. 

The candidates:

Fredda Maddox was one of the first women to serve as a Pennsylvania State Trooper in Chester County. She has also served as a special agent for the Bureau of Criminal Investigations, the Bureau of Narcotics and is a practicing attorney.    

Jim Fitzgerald, an FBI agent with 26 years experience, is a newcomer to the political arena. Prior to his work at the FBI he served 10 years in the Marines. He sites his previous working relationships with many of the police departments in the County as an asset.

Prothonotary 

What is it? The prothonotary is responsible for recording all civil procedures before the court of Common Pleas Courts. This is the office you’ll run into to get your marriage license, passport or restraining order. 

The candidates:

Debbie Bookman is a Coatesville council woman who believes her community and customer service will make her and excellent prothonotary. 

Matt Holliday is finishing his first term in the office. During his tenure he has begun to modernize implementing e-filing for court documents and accepting credit card payments for services rendered. 

Recorder of Deeds

What is it? County official responsible for the public repository of real estate records, military discharges, commissions and official documents. This is where you’d go if you need a copy to the deed to your home. 

The candidates:

Chris Pielli is a West Goshen Township Supervisor and lawyer specializing in estate and probate matters, including recording deeds.

Amber Little-Turner works as an independent contractor helping local residents gain access to legal services. She is also a field representative for Senator Pat Toomey.  

Register of Wills 

What is it? The Register of Wills is the person that collects the inheritance tax for Pennsylvania. 

The candidates:

Michele Vaughn is a technology leader who pledges to simplify and update the processes of the office. 

Terri Clark is the current Register of Wills and is seeking re-election. She has served in the role since 2011 and counts accepting credit card payment and converting microfilm to pdf documents among her office’s victories. 

Modernization seems to be a theme among some of these lesser known offices and seemingly with good reason when accepting credit card payments is counted as considered a victory. 

In addition to the local elections there are also several individuals running for positions in the state’s superior and commonwealth courts.

There you go. That’s your recap. Hopefully you now feel better prepared to vote on November 5.

Not sure where you vote? Go here to find your precinct

Now that your brain is fried. How about an election that’s fun to vote in? Where’s the best breakfast in West Chester?

Also, don’t forget to follow along for all the latest West Chester updates.

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