Kick Politics Out of Education

Hi Friends –

I am writing to ask you to vote this coming Tuesday Nov 5th for Chester, Kaliner, McCune and Swalm for WCASD school board.

The incumbent slate (appearing as Republicans on the ballot) is funded by an organization led by Colin Hanna, an ex Chester County Commissioner who has been called “The New Norquist.” Hanna is a national political power broker who recently fought to keep the government shut down, who wants to push a social agenda in public schools, who speaks for the radical Tea Party on national news shows, and who wants to funnel taxpayer money intended for public schools into private schools – which effectively defunds public education. Please ask yourself: Why are Carpenter, Coyle, Latorre and Pimley taking money from Colin Hanna’s political group?

Personally, I view this as a clear and troubling conflict of interest. Our public school board members are supposed to be advocates for public education. They are supposed to be wise managers of the money we pay in to public schools. They are supposed be stewards of our children’s future, not mouthpieces for a crazy political movement. They are supposed to ensure that radical social agendas – from either end of the spectrum – do not make their way into our schools. They are supposed to adhere to the National School Board Association’s code of ethics, which states that school board members must “refuse to surrender judgment to individuals or special interest groups” and “avoid being placed in a position of conflict of interest.”

Joyce Chester, Robin Kaliner, Chris McCune and Ricky Swalm are moderate candidates who believe in the benefits that a quality public education offers our children. They understand that a quality school district is the cornerstone of a prosperous community, no matter where you may send your own kids to school. Three of these candidates are registered Republicans, even though they will appear as Democrats on your ballot. For what it’s worth, I know these candidates personally and, although I don’t always agree with them, I respect their integrity, their independence, and their strong commitment to our schools.

Please join me and your many other concerned neighbors, and kick politics out of education.

Vote for CHESTER, KALINER, MCCUNE and SWALM this coming Tuesday November 5th.

Please forward this on to your friends and neighbors.

Thank you,

Dianne Herrin
WCASD Parent


West Chester to elect 4 new council members

by Jeremy Gerrard, Daily Local News, 11/2/13

WEST CHESTER — There will be four new members of Borough Council come January.

Four of the seven council districts are up for election this fall, and there are no incumbents running. Two council members chose not to run. The other two are “termed–out,” meaning they can’t run for more than two consecutive terms under the borough’s charter.

All current council members are Democrats. Republicans, however, are challenging in all districts. The party has missed filing candidates in some areas in recent elections. …

read more at Daily Local News

Don Braceland Running for Borough Council

by NteAdams, West Chester Patch, 11/3/13

This candidate supports more biking around West Chester to help traffic issues.

Name: Don Braceland

Address: 423 W. Nields St.

Running for: Member of Borough Council 5th Ward

Previously held: none

Improve traffic and car travel: Encourage more bike riding. Most places in the borough can be reached within ten minutes on a bike. There is free parking, no gas, no emissions plus you get a bit of exercise.

Is there an area where Council could have performed better? The W. Nields St parking garage, parking in general, and the Lacey St. yard waste drop off site.

Edwin Brian Abbott Running for West Chester Council

by Nate Adams, West Chester Patch, 11/3/13

This candidate sees potential in the borough and wants to increase its communication.

Name: Edwin Brian Abbott

Address: 415 Clinton Alley, West Chester

Running For: West Chester Borough Council Ward 3

Positions Held Previously: West Chester Citizens Financial Advisory Committee (2011-2012)

What do you think can be done to improve traffic and car travel in the area: West Chester’s thriving local businesses and historic character make it a destination in Chester County. While these are some of the things that make our community so special, they are increasingly contributing to our traffic and parking issues. The first step is making sure that we prevent these problems from getting worse by stopping over-development within the borough, which goes hand-in-hand with preserving what makes West Chester special.

The solution to the existing traffic issues is complex. Ultimately the answer to West Chester’s traffic issues and the foundation of its economic future lie in restoration of train service combined with investment in responsible development through Smart Growth initiatives….

read more at West Chester Patch

Food for thought: Election 2013!


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:

Citizen Engagement

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.

Practices transparency.

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

Ellen Koopman Running for West Chester Council

by Nate Adams, West Chester Patch, October 31, 2013

A Chester County public defender is taking a shot at government.

Name: Ellen Koopman

Address: 304 N. Darlington St.

Running For: West Chester Borough Council, Ward 7

Positions Held Previously: Currently an attorney with the Chester County Public Defender’s Office

Improving traffic in the area: I see two ways to improve traffic in the Borough without a massive overhaul of the roadways.

First, we need to encourage those who live locally to walk and/or bike when they want to come into the downtown area. We can do that by maintaining the quality of our sidewalks and keeping them well lit, and by providing ample places for cyclists to park their bikes.

Second, we need to encourage the people who do drive into town to make use of the parking garages to keep people from driving around the downtown area in circles looking for street parking. We can do that by making it less expensive to park in the garage than on the street, or by offering a discount on parking in the garage when one makes a purchase at a local business.

What motivated me to run: West Chester is such an interesting place to live, and I wanted to get more involved in the nuts and bolts of what makes the town work. Public service has always interested me, and is what brought me to my day job as a public defender. I see serving on Borough Council as a natural extension of that, and a great opportunity to contribute to the community in which I live….

read more at West Chester Patch

The Deciding Vote

from A Better Direction for West Chester, 10/30/13

De·cid·ing adj. : Determining or able to determine an outcome

On the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November to the polling places will go civic-minded residents. It is an off-year election, mostly consisting of county and township level contests – row officers, judges, supervisors and school board.

Although it is an off year election, know that  Election Day, Tuesday, November 5th, directly impacts your life.

These races are about your county, school district and township taxes, your property value, the national and state ranking of your school district, the environment, and the strength of your community.

Every school board election brings change to a school district, but this election represents a turning point for West Chester. Our students deserve a board that is committed to public education over ideology, and our residents understand that our property values stay strong when our community stays strong.

Joyce Chester, Robin Kaliner, Chris McCune and Ricky Swalm are determined to move the West Chester Area School District’s present ranking up to the highest performing district in the region.

Voting is your chance to stand up for the issues you believe in; do not skip it,





Polls are open 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Disappointed with board’s actions in West Chester school talks

Excerpts from letter in Daily Local News, 10/10/13

Like most people who care about our West Chester schools, I am disappointed that the long, long negotiations process has not yet produced an agreement between the school board and the teachers’ union. I’m sure we all hoped the recent fact-finder’s report would spur an agreement, but it did not. In the simplest of terms, that report leaned much too heavily toward the school board’s extreme positions and would leave most teachers in a deteriorated economic state over the term of a contract. From the beginning, the school board’s proposals have been draconian, to say the least; and that has not changed with recent modifications. Appearances suggest that some of the board members are even engaged in a campaign of union-busting, which is hardly the way to inspire collegial negotiations and a fair, reasonable contract….

A couple years ago, the WCASD paid a total of $64 million in teachers’ salaries. This year that number is projected to be about $60 million. That may look good on a budget line-item, but it suggests a policy that does not treat teachers, the heart and soul of any school district, very well. Clearly the resources are there to propose a contract which is more reasonable and more fair to the teachers without giving away the store.

Which brings me to the final point. Maybe it is time to take a second look at the board members who are up for re-election next month. Maybe it is time to cast votes for their challengers, all of whom promise to work diligently for reason and fairness in a new teachers’ contract. I hope voters will at least take a look at the alternatives and what they have to say. And then, of course, they must actually vote. The WCASD really needs some help right now from cooler heads on the board who will abandon union-busting and strive for more professional relations with and treatment of their teachers while at the same time protecting the legitimate interests of the taxpayers….

Mike Hancock, West Chester

read the whole letter at Daily Local News