Dear West Chester Borough Neighbors:
It has been my honor to serve the people of West Chester for the last four years, and I am honored to AGAIN be your Democratic and Republic candidate for Mayor. Thank you for your support and your invaluable contributions as we work together to make West Chester Borough even better!
In addition to electing the Mayor, Borough voters will be electing FOUR (a majority!) Borough Council Members this Election Day, Tuesday November 5th. We are very fortunate to have a full slate of candidates representing both major parties.
I have served as an elected official for eight years: as a Borough Council Member and Mayor. As Mayor it is not appropriate for me to endorse specific Borough candidates. However, I would like to share my thoughts on the most pressing issues we face and my opinion on what makes a competent and effective elected official – food for thought as you cast your ballot for your Council representative.
West Chester’s most pressing issues:
How do we invite more of our citizens to participate in the work of local government? The more ideas we have the better are our chances of generating really good ideas! West Chester is a diverse and dynamic community. All voices must be invited to the table and all viewpoints considered.
What are the services our local government should offer and how should we best pay for them? In the day of escalating pension costs, state mandates, restrictive state laws, with aging Borough infrastructure and government facilities, all revenue options must be on the table including raising fees and taxes, for thoughtful consideration by citizens and elected officials together. This is NOT a political issue. It is a practical issue. Details here.
(Our County Commissioners, two R’s and one D raised 2013 County taxes 5% in order to best serve the health safety and welfare of the people they serve.)
How do we identify a healthy balance between preserving our historic resources and small town charm, while allowing for reasonable economic development?
Historic buildings and heritage sites (the Barclay grounds for example) must be preserved for future generations whenever possible. Occasionally an historic resource may need to be removed or modified in order for reasonable economic development that is deemed critical to our Borough’s flourishing future. Thoughtful community deliberation will lead to balanced decisions.
What key partnerships will enable greater success? Partnerships are the future! In the new economy, wise communities are building public private partnerships and sharing resources whenever possible. What strengthens one partner strengthens the other. (I.e. Safe neighborhoods, a vibrant downtown, an esteemed University, economic development, historic resources, small town charm, diverse housing, healthy, productive citizens.)
Qualities of a competent Council Member
Puts citizens first!
Loyalty to one’s constituents must rise above loyalty to one’s political party, special interest or personal interest.
There is no room for hidden or personal “agendas” in government at any level. Elected officials serve the people and generate the best solutions in open conversation WITH the people.
Understands and practices democratic governance and promotes civic engagement.
In democratic governance, it is the role of the elected official to frame the issue, convene the public conversation and hold the citizens accountable for working together to find a solution that works for the best interest of most. Good decisions are made when people with diverse viewpoints come together to share ideas and debate the best way forward for the community.
Listens to the people.
People deserve to feel they are heard; that their elected officials care; and that everything that can be done to help is being done.
Values our key stakeholders and understands the role each plays in building partnerships for a healthy future.
Our key stakeholders include our citizens, our businesses, our University, our township neighbors, our non-profits, our faith communities, our rental property owners, our developers, our County government and others.
Seeks objective, professional input on complex issues.
Utilizing Borough Boards and Commissions and Borough consultants to help frame issues and engage in meaningful public conversation leads to well-informed, thoughtful decisions.
Commits to “continuing education” for local elected officials.
Like being a new parent, most of us come to elected office with limited understanding of the job or the issues at hand! The more we learn the more we realize we need to learn! An effective elected official will take advantage of training available to hone the skills of democratic governance.
PLEASE VOTE ON NOV 5! West Chester’s future depends on YOU!
Carolyn T. Comitta