Dear Chester County Democratic Voter:
As we say farewell to 2020, I find myself trying to aptly describe what just happened. Perhaps Charles Dickens captured it best when he so poignantly wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of time, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
As I reflect on this year, the words above mirror how we all must feel. We hit so many remarkable milestones as Democrats in Chester County in the last 12 months. Our year began with the swearing in of a Democratic-led county government. And it ended with the election and re-election of our eight-member Democratic statehouse delegation (six State Representatives and two State Senators who join State Senators Muth and Kearney). We welcome President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in just 24 days (!) and return Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan to the Capitol.
Last month we witnessed the greatest participation of county registered voters at 83%. Chester County was singled out as having a major influence on candidate Biden winning Pennsylvania’s 20 valuable electoral votes. The Biden/Harris ticket swept the county by nearly 54,000 votes – more than double the amount we gave to Hillary Clinton in 2016 – a Democratic record at the time.
Let us also recall that in 2016 we boasted – and we were proud – to have TWO elected officials – State Senator Andy Dinniman and State Representative Carolyn Comitta. Today we boast almost two dozen West Chester, Harrisburg and Washington leaders with a capital D next to their name. Veteran Democrats could never imagine so much winning, but here we are! Did I mention we turned blue in May 2020?
All of this happened against the backdrop of a historic change in state election laws (watch out for the naked ballot), a global pandemic, a shutdown of day-to-day routines, school, work, shopping and sports. Add in the constant and bizarre tweeting from the White House. Somehow, we rallied together and came up with new ways of doing standard things – Zoom meetings, voting by mail, moving the Primary to June, fundraising without the fun. We applauded our frontline workers and were grateful for our younger Dems who volunteered to work the polls so our mature volunteers could safely stay home.
And every step of the way our GOP neighbors taunted us, criticized us and yelled at us. We grew stronger together as a party as we marched for racial justice, election fairness, decency and compassion. Our Democratic-led county leaders – who took office mere weeks before the pandemic — creatively solved problems when there was no playbook. They have our admiration and gratitude as does every Chester County Voter Services’ staffer. What they accomplished was amazing.
“It was the best of times” as we marveled at our scientific community creating a vaccine in an unprecedented matter of months. And “it was the worst of times” as we lost so many of our neighbors to COVID-19.
As Joe Biden said this week, “our darkest days in the battle against Covid are ahead of us, not behind us.” We will continue to social distance, wear a mask, wash our hands and encourage others to do so. We were encouraged to see Congresswoman Houlahan’s tweet as she received her vaccine in DC.
Soon it will be our turn to roll up our sleeves. In the interim, our darker days will lift as the occupants in the White House and in Harrisburg begin their new terms.
Rumors are swirling as to what Trump may do in his final days on Pennsylvania Avenue. No matter what happens tomorrow, we can find comfort that our judges and the judicial system held firm. And it should encourage all of us to work harder in 2021 as seats open up for PA Supreme Court, PA Superior Court, PA Commonwealth Court and Chester County’s Court of Common Pleas. Yes, another petition signing drive and campaign season begin anew in a few weeks! We’ll need to get creative, again.
As we end the year, I wanted to thank you for your ongoing support. I offer you my sincere wish for a happy and healthy new year.
PS I end my 2020 weekly messages with a chuckle.