by Rep. Kristine Howard (D-167)
We have all seen the sign posted on the window or door of a local store or business that has closed shop simply stating, Gone Fishing. We know what it means. Economic conditions, competition, retirement or other factors have led to the demise or end of the business whose owners have either literally or metaphorically taken up the rod and reel.
We may not see the “Gone Fishing” sign, but there is another local business about to close and that is business-as-usual in Chester and Delaware counties. For nearly 200 years in both counties, one-party-rule in local government has led to cronyism, self-dealing, a lack of transparency, rewarding political insiders and a propensity to govern with unchecked impunity.
Ending the Republican monopoly of local government control is not a development that has happened suddenly, but it has certainly been happening more rapidly than one would have expected a decade ago. In the last Municipal Election cycle, for the first time in history, Chester County elected four Democratic row officers and Delaware County made substantial gains on County Council. Both counties are now on the precipice of electing a Democratic majority on their respective ruling bodies. In addition to the county commissioner and county council offices, both counties could see a Democratic State’s Attorney elected as well as Common Pleas Judges and other row officers.
And, it is no accident that a majority of the recently elected officials and candidates positioned to win in this election are women. Many of us, myself included, have been propelled into politics and public service, in some cases, volunteering in the campaign that elected President Barack Obama in 2008. We were further motivated and joined by others who were compelled to action after the unfortunate election of Donald Trump in 2016 and the right-wing agenda that he and his party are pursuing at multiple levels of government, from the White House to the Statehouse to the County Court House. With the rise of the role of women in government comes a new found embrace of good governance, a rejection of cronyism and a passion for fairness and equal opportunity.
The examples of one-party-rule and local government run a muck are plentiful. In Chester County, where I call home, we have a no-show Recorder of Deeds (also serving as the Chester County Republican Chair) who only came to work 37 days the past two years; our recently elected Democratic County Treasurer has reported she found that her Republican predecessor inconsistently collected the county Hotel Room Rental Tax for no apparent reason; our Chester County Sheriff is under fire for authorizing $67,000 of overtime payments to her live-in boyfriend and is being investigated by the Attorney General for allegations of mishandling charitable contributions made to the K-9 unit; the Republican majority’s partisanship finds expression in the fact that only one of the county’s 30-plus department directors is a registered Democratic voter; earlier in 2019, the political leader of the Chester County Republican party resigned his chairmanship in disgrace amid accusations of sexual improprieties. There is certainly much more of concern and you can be sure of more to come from what is yet to be learned.
Please understand that I am not saying Republicans are inherently corrupt. The point I want to make is that one party rule for decades, let alone two centuries, does not make for healthy system of checks and balances.
The good news is that we can do something about it. In both Chester and Delaware Counties, we have excellent Democratic nominees running for a variety of public offices. The power to change 200 years of one-party rule is within our reach. All we have to do is reach our polling places next Tuesday and vote for the candidates, our Democratic candidates, who will bring about the change we want and need.
In November of 2019 we can make history in our courthouses and set the stage for leading the way in 2020 to electing a majority that works in Harrisburg and the Capitol of our great nation.