Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Here for the Party

Now that the 2010 Pennsylvania Primary is behind us, I’d like to comment on the impact it had in Lower Providence. That might take a couple of posts, but first and foremost I want to report that there are four new faces to the Lower Providence Republican Committee, and they are all female.

First, I won one of two seats in my race in 2-3, replacing departing committeeman Bill Stewart, who had decided not to run this time around, and came within five votes of taking the title of top vote-getter and beating my opponent, Kathie Eskie. [UDPATE: AS OF 6-15-10 the certified, official results are me with 158, Ms. Eskie with 156, and Mr. Donovan with 88] I had 8 more votes (that I know of) that couldn’t make it to the poll in time, or I would have – but it doesn’t matter. I’m happy to have had all the support that I did. We had approximately 33% turnout at our poll, which may be unprecedented for a primary. While the Democrats came out in force to support Sestak (who had a very strong (and entertaining) poll worker there for them in the name of Wendell Young from Oakridge Circle in my district), the only reason the Republicans came out was for my race.

 Second, in district 2-1, newcomer Linda Tyson won the seat vacated by our new district justice, Cathleen Kelly Rebar. I don’t know Linda yet, but I will reach out to her to introduce myself and I look forward to working with her.

Third, Barbara Donofrio won at 3-4 (Shannondell), replacing Lea Bertha, who did not run for another term.

Last, but certainly not least, local court reporter Kimberly Bursner won in voting district 1-1, replacing Rosie Lomire, who also decided not to run. I do know Kim – she has been involved a little bit as far as attending fundraisers and trying to learn who all the players are in Lower Providence – and we’re ‘Facebook friends” - and I know she will be a great addition to the Committee.

I just wanted to say something about my race.  I heard loud and clear, through knocking on doors, talking to people, and in seeing just who came out to vote for me yesterday - despite the miserable weather - that Republican politics as usual – on any level, not just in Lower Providence - is not acceptable any longer for this Party.

My theme was that we needed to step up our game and bring new energy and ideas to the table, along with remembering who our base is and what they value in order to better combat liberal candidates and policies, and I am dedicated to making that a reality. I appreciate the voters’ trust in me to advocate that viewpoint. I realize the “establishment” Republican party may not like that, but since I’m positive we agree in more areas than we disagree, I am sure we will find a way to unite, work together and move forward.

There are so many people who help one succeed in an election, and I’m not even going to try here to thank all of them. I’ve made a lot of those calls and given a lot of those hugs (and still have a few more to go, along with some thank you letters), and those folks all know who they are. I appreciate every single thing anyone did for me, no matter how small.

 I truly look forward to, as country singer Gretchen Wilson sings in a song that obviously is a play on words, being “Here for the Party”.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spin Cycle

Remember that avalanche of campaign mail that I mentioned seemed to be refreshingly scarce this time around?

Four days before the election, I did see an uptick in my mailbox, but to my amazement, I seem to have generated some of it. I guess the post office can thank my opponent for contributing toward their job security.  Of course, all of the mail consisted of negative campaign mailers.

Predictably, they aren't  from my opponent, but from people who aren't candidates in the race  at all, and who have their own agenda for wanting my opponent to win. One of them is desperately trying to hold onto his own seat in another area.

One of the things that people claim when polled about politics is that they hate negative ads and negative campaigning. Yet, in election after election, regardless of level, negative ads are effective more often than not. I suspect people don't feel comfortable telling a pollster that they enjoy seeing mud slung, but the truth is, if the 11 o' clock news and the newspaper did nothing but report positive information, most of us wouldn't bother to pay attention.

I guess the main problem I have with them is not their negativity; I think if there is information that one needs to know to make informed decision, voters should have it. What I and many people object to is their vagueness (if it's not an outright fabrication). Often, there is a tiny kernal of truth, usually about some innocuous subject, yet an entire statement is spun around it that leads one to think something completely different than what the truth really is.

I liken it to putting dots out there, and stating them in such a way that the voter draws the line connecting the two. Whether he or she connects them correctly is irrelevant; the hope is that the voter will be misled and take 2+2 and arrive at 5.

For example, one statement claimed I voted for an ordinance that allowed developers to contribute less open space. That's wrong. I voted for an ordinance (05-119) that reduced residential lot size in R4 from 10 acres to 5 acres, in an effort to create more affordable housing options.  There is very little zoned R4 here as it is. The mailer, of course, didn't bother to point out that I also voted for an ordinance preserving the Indian Head Dam (05-81).

Another point was that I supported nonendorsed candidates for supervisor in the general election, which is not true. I worked hard to support them in the primary, and as I was a private citizen at the time, I could support anyone I wanted to. I did not work for any candidates in the general election at all - but even if I had wanted to, our current Republican committee would not have let me - they've rebuffed all my attempts to be involved with them, which is why I have had to find my own ways to be involved. They, including my opponent, are simply  not interested in welcoming anyone with new ideas and new energy for the party.

Obviously anyone elected committeeperson has a duty to support in the general,  whomever voters select in the primary . I understand that and would abide by it,  but I suppose my opponent's friends are trying to say that I don't have any right as an ordinary citizen to support whomever I want to. That doesn't make me any less of a Republican; what it means is I am an independent thinker.

They also made much of the fact that I initiated a petition challenge against my opponent. Petition challenges are very common. Everybody who knows me knows I'm very competitive, and if you lower your guard for a moment, I will capitalize on it. My opponent was not diligent, and it almost cost her. She has never extended me any courtesies or cut me any slack, and I did not think I owed her any in return. That's just business, and I don't take it personally. Neither should she. 

In my own campaigns in the past, I refused to do negative mailers. Some people told me that maybe I didn't have the stomach for it. Many women don't. I do, but I try to take the high road whenever possible - at least as a first course of action.  I didn't go there, despite having good information I could have used. My opponent, and her friends, all did put out negative information about me, and I lost.

But, this time, I  too put out what one could call a negative mailer. The difference is, as a paralegal I understand that not telling the truth, especially in writing, can have dire consequences, something my opponent has discovered the hard way. Everything I put on my mailer about my opponent, I can back up with documents. There's no 'spin'.  I can sleep at night knowing that.

I realize many things go into whether one candidate wins or loses. The wrong message, lack of name recognition, and an ineffective campaign strategy can sink you just as much if not more so than negative campaign ads.  At the end of the day, it's the total combination that matters.

And at the end of the day, win or lose, I'll know I did  my best, told the truth, was true to myself, and made a ton of new friends.

In the meantime, we still have to listen to all the Sestak-Specter ads for another few days. I think we'll all be glad when those are off the air.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Primary Colors

On Tuesday, May 18, Pennsylvania gets to make its contribution to this year's big political litmus test, otherwise known as the primary election. I for one cannot wait to see how our  most hotly contested race turns out. Will Arlen Specter join Utah's former 3-term Republican senator Bob Bennett in the unemployed-politican line, along with recently dispatched 28-year Democratic Rep. Alan Mollohan of West Virginia?  Or will he survive the spring to advance to the next round, the general election in November, where strong Republican candidate Pat Toomey, the guy who chased Specter out of the Republican party in the first place, awaits?

Today's polls suggest the race is too close to call, with Joe Sestak making a late rally to pull up even with the venerable former Republican senator Specter.  I for one kind of hope Specter makes it through the primary if for no other reason than so his former constituency, the Republicans in this part of the state, can have the privilege of properly send him packing after the betrayal of his defection to the Democrats.

Along with all the gubernatorial ousters of outright liberals or not-conservative-enough conservatives last year, and Scott Brown's unpredictable victory to the Senate in Massachusetts, all bets are off this year.  Anti-establishment and anti-incumbent fever is indeed raging. I'm hearing it loud and clear when I'm knocking on doors in my own race for Republican committee here in the Trooper area. The tea party candidate for governor, Sam Rohrer, has a respectable following, and I know a number of people who will vote for him over the endorsed Tom Corbett. 

But that's on the state and national level.  There are also local races, some contested, for Republican committee people. I don't believe any of the Democrat local committee races are contested.

If you live in Trooper (2-1, 2-3), Audubon (3-3) or Collegeville (1-1) you have a choice as to whom your local Republican party representatives will be. The county's party bylaws were changed in 2009 so that voters no longer have to vote for a committeeMAN and a committeeWOMAN. You can vote for any two candidates - two men, two women, or one of each. This will eliminate the infrequent and somewhat comical situation that sometimes occurred where a man would run as a committeewoman.

The other change was that the term of office was changed from two years to four years. So, choose carefully, because whomever you vote for now as your local party grassroots folks will be around for the next presidential election.

And, those of you in  3-3 have a new (temporary) polling place. Instead of voting at Arcola Middle School, you'll be voting at Valley View Church.

I have to say, considering how many candidates for everything there are right now (something like a dozen for Lt. Governor alone) I'm surprised there aren't more campaign yard signs out by now. Even the amount of campaign mail seems to be lighter (I'm not complaining, and now that I said this, I'll probably get an avalanche tomorrow).  As for me, I decided not to get a sign war going in my own district, and just put them out on the perimeter of my district. I mean, nobody really wants yard signs, right?

Whatever your party, and whoever your candidates are, assuming you're registered in the party in which you want to vote, be sure you get up off your duff and come out and vote. The weatherman is calling for rain on Tuesday, but it only takes a few minutes. And, you're seeing what all this voter apathy is getting us, so I think if you want to have the right to complain, you should at least try to make a difference by putting your two cents in the ballot box.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Road Untravelled

Getting around in Trooper this past week or so has been quite a challenge. While many areas across the state have roads in deplorable condition, we’ve been blessed by the highway gods at PennDOT in that two of our main roadways, Park Avenue and Ridge Pike, are being repaved… at the same time.

For those of you who have called the township to complain, please know that these are state roads, not township roads, so Lower Providence has no control over what happens with these roads or when, from paving to snowplowing etc.

I’m told that the milling and paving that’s being performed is normally scheduled PennDOT maintenance and repair, and that the township received some notice that it would be occurring, although I don’t recall seeing any communications from either entity to affected residents.

Lower Providence requested PennDOT to wait to repave Ridge Pike until we’re done with the right-hand turn lane widening project from Ridge Pike onto southbound Trooper Road, but were told that PennDOT was going to go ahead with their work anyway, which is a shame, because it will all have to be dug up and repaved again. Of course PennDOT’s operated that way for years, so why change now…how many times have you sat through roadwork somewhere, only to have to go through it all again a few weeks or months later in the same spot because sewer repair or other subsequent work was being done? You’d think PennDOT and the local municipalities would get on the same page and save not only money but driver angst.

Anyway, I can’t recall a time that both roads were ever done at the same time. While PennDOT is doing most of the work at night, starting to set up around dusk or so, it’s been a challenge just to make a WaWa run, get gas, or even just to return from somewhere like your kids’ evening baseball games. Something that usually takes ten minutes can now easily take in excess of 40 minutes in and out. Still, I'll take that any day over the major delays that would be caused if the work were done during rush hour.

Aside from the traffic issues, I have heard complaints from the understandably cranky residents along the affected roads that the equipment noise and bright lights are keeping them up all night. I know when I can hear it from my house, which practically abuts Church Road, it’s got to be really annoying if you live right where the work is being done.

FYI, all the work should be done sometime next week. Thanks to Dave Schaffer with LP Public Works for the update.