A thank you to the Borough Council of West Chester

letter by Catherine Quillman, Daily Local News, 1/8/14

As we enter the new year, I always think it’s a good time to continue the season of gratitude.

With that in mind, I would like to thank an important part of our local government whose members rarely get a “shout-out” or public acknowledgement of their hard work. I am speaking of the Borough Council of my hometown of West Chester.

In recent months, council (which includes the mayor) has faced development pressures that have demanded the weighing of many factors — economic, quality of life, and sensitivity to West Chester’s historic and small-town character, to name a few considerations.

Judging from my study of the loss of what historian Jane Dorchester calls “pieces of the (historic) fabric,” the gaps seen today in West Chester’s streetscapes have come about because of certain development trends. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was municipal parking lots and banks, and now it appears to be condos and hotels.

Even for the casual observer, nothing compares to the present open-minded council and the shooting gallery of issues that seemingly pop up at every turn. What has stood out for me is council’s willingness to be flexible: to adapt and to accommodate when a crisis arose.

As an early promoter of the “Save the Barclay Grounds,” I find no need to put quote marks around the word crisis. This summer, my fellow volunteers were not exaggerating when we distributed fliers announcing that the towering specimen trees on the Barclay Grounds would be “clear cut” if residents did not join our cause and stop a proposed development.

I found it commendable that the council not only held a special meeting on Dec. 4 about the issue, they notified residents through the robo-call system normally reserved for community events or leaf removals….

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

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

Black, Gay and a Pacifist: Bayard Rustin Remembered For Role in March on Washington, Mentoring MLK

Democracy Now!, 8/12/13

The White House has announced it will posthumously award the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to the trailblazing civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. Obama will honor Rustin and 15 others, including President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and baseball great Ernie Banks, at the White House later this year. Rustin was a key adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. and introduced him to Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings on nonviolence. Rustin helped King start the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. Six years later, he was the chief organizer of the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, rallying hundreds of thousands of people for economic justice, full employment, voting rights and equal opportunity. “Rustin was one of the most important social justice activists in the U.S. in the 20th century,” says John D’Emilio, author of “Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin.” “Rustin pioneered the use of Gandhian nonviolence as a way of calling attention to segregation and other forms of racism in the United States.” We also speak to former NAACP chair Julian Bond and Rustin’s partner, Walter Naegle.

read the full transcript at Democracy Now!

…AMY GOODMAN: Early in his life, Bayard Rustin challenged segregation, as you talked about, and racism; in high school, arrested for refusing to sit in a West Chester movie theater segregated balcony. In this clip from the film Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, which just aired last night on LIW’s World Channel, Rustin recollects how he responded to racism.

BAYARD RUSTIN: I once went into the little restaurant next to the Warner Theatre, and—can you believe it?—there was absolute consternation. That was the first occasion in which I knew West Chester had three police cars. They surrounded the place as if we were going to destroy motherhood. I purposely got arrested, and then I made an appeal that all the black people and white people who were decent-minded should give 10 cents to get me out of jail. And I got out, because they took up a collection….

Mayor Comitta, Chesco Pols Lead Gun Violence Rally

By Tom Sunnergren, West Chester Patch, 3/25/13

CeaseFirePA and a group of local politicians spoke out in favor of background checks in West Chester on Saturday.

In the most recent of a series of rallies staged by area gun reform groups, West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta and a handful of county officials held a pointed press conference in the borough on Saturday, the Delaware County Daily Times is reporting.

The speakers, in tandem with CeaseFirePA—an organization that, according to its mission statement, aims to encourage Pennsylvanians to take a stand against gun violence—spoke out in favor of a proposal that would mandate background checks and more robust records for all private gun sales in the state….

read more at West Chester Patch

West Chester councilwoman speaks on gun violence

by Jeremy Gerrard, Daily Local News, 2/18/13

Affected by gun violence in her life, West Chester Borough Council Vice President Cassandra Jones took to Washington D.C. last week to speak to legislators on the current high profile topic of gun legislation.
Courtesy photo West Chester Borough Council Vice President Cassandra Jones meets with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Jones was one of 120 people, all victims of gun violence, who were invited to the White House Tuesday as part of an effort organized by the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

“It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Jones said. “It was phenomenal.”

Attendees included victims of the Aurora Colo. shooting, the Newtown Conn. Shooting and Arizona shooting.

When Jones was six years old, her mother was shot. While she survived, Jones said the shooting handicapped her mother and came with complications that contributed to her early death at 43.

Until recently Jones said she was unable to remember or deal with the memory of her mother being shot.

But through the tool of writing, Jones has opened up that chapter of her past. Jones said she has been in the process of writing an autobiography for a number of years now and recently added to it which included her story of the shooting. Jones said she is writing the book as a tribute to her mother.

“I’m really very passionate about this issue because I’m the survivor,” Jones said.

In January, Borough Council responded to the recent shooting in Newtown, Conn. by passing a resolution that calls for new gun legislation.

The 3-page resolution, brought to council by Mayor Carolyn Comitta, highlights three areas of action: the passage of the Fix Gun Checks Act, which would require a background check for every gun sale and ensure that all criminals and other dangerous people who are prohibited from buying a gun are listed in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System; passage of legislation that would keep military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines off the streets; and legislation that would make gun trafficking a federal crime. …

read more at Daily Local News

photo supplied by Cassandra Jones:

CJones :MObama

Cassandra with FLOTUS (Michelle Obama!)

“I had the most amazing experiences last week in DC. Mayors Against Illegal Guns was invited to a congressional hearing, to a White House briefing and then to a watch party for the Presidents’ State of the Union speech.

So fulfilling to be a part of these national conversations on violence among our youth in this country. God will give you the desires of your heart!”

Cassandra Jones

  • West Chester Borough Democratic Committee
    Committeeperson, Ward 2
  • Member of West Chester Borough Council