West Chester Trustee Election Results
Another election has passed and the people of West Chester Township have spoken. In the coming days, the yard signs that pepper our yards will disappear. For a few weeks, the media will dissect the results, attempting to milk every ounce of interest until like the yard signs, their concern for West Chester Township politics will disappear (ie: return to normal ignoring mode). With Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching in rapid succession, the attention of the residents of West Chester will shift from government to family. In other words, life for the residents, like the media, will return to normal…for most that is.
Change, you asked for it, you got it!
Of the four candidates, only one will return to a pre-election normal. In the past few weeks I had the opportunity to talk with Matt King and his supporters on several occasions. While I was actively campaigning in my neighborhood for Mark Welch, I always asked my neighbors to support and vote for Matt as well. I felt Matt’s background brought a unique and much needed IT perspective to the Board. Matt and his family will move on from the election but I’m sure he will continue to be an advocate for the campaign issues he ran on. I hope and expect the new Board will reach out to Matt when sorely needed issues of IT are addressed.
For the other three candidates, life is going to change drastically.
Trustee Stoker – Having spent nearly two decades on the West Chester Board of Trustees, Catherine Stoker will likely experience the most drastic change. Anyone that has followed the Board of Trustee meetings in person or through the archived videos is well aware of the control and influence Trustee Stoker had on the direction of our Township. Even when not the active President of the Board, it was not difficult to notice that both Trustee Wong and Administrator Boyko were generally in lock step with whatever Mrs. Stoker wanted. Many times, Trustee George Lang (like the residents of West Chester) had little time to recognize, prepare and/or stop the predetermined direction of the Board. I’m sure that managing this degree of influence required a greater investment of time preparing for the meetings than that of a typical Trustee. Catherine Stoker is going to have a lot of time to fill. Hopefully it will be spent on family and the many charitable activities she has been involved in and not Township Politics.
Trustee Wong – Having spent the last 8 years as part of the majority, Trustee Lee Wong will have to figure out how to serve the next four years in the minority. Mr. Wong bills himself as a Republican and fiscal conservative but his past votes suggest otherwise. I’m not sure if his alignment with Democrat Stoker was a marriage of convenience or a reflection of his beliefs. Either way, his position and influence on the Board will suffer from the loss of Trustee Stoker and the alliance with Administrator Boyko that their majority control gained. Trustee Wong will either pivot and enjoy the political benefits of a more conservative Board or spend his next term wearing George Lang’s shoes. I personally suspect we’ll see a different Lee Wong. It takes a lot of resolve and personal character to spend year after year fighting for your core principles and beliefs knowing you will rarely earn a victory. In my opinion, Trustee Wong has not demonstrated that degree of grit. I expect we’ll see a lot more unanimous votes as Lee Wong continues his pattern of “wading where the water is warmest”.
Trustee Elect Mark Welch – Between his victory on Nov 5th and being seated as Trustee this coming January, Mark Welch, a local businessman will begin the work of transitioning from citizen advocate and campaign challenger to that of elected office. I know Mark has spent an enormous amount of time over the last few months campaigning, walking our streets and in countless meetings. I’m sure his family will be happy to have him back. During the last few weeks leading up to the election it became increasingly difficult to communicate directly with Mark. However, having met Mark last summer when I was forcibly introduced to West Chester politics by our zoning department, I know this was a result of the burdens of campaigning. He was always available and interested in the issues of our community and more than once, sometimes on short notice, made time to attend a Trustee or BZA meeting in support of a fellow resident.
I don’t see Mark Welch going on Trustee “auto-pilot” in the coming years like some, in part because he seems genuinely concerned with the issues affecting fellow residents and because the logical and analytical nature of his engineering background lends itself to researching before acting. We’ve seen way too many hasty knee jerk decisions by our Board of Trustees in the past few years. It takes infinitely more time to undo a bad decision by government than to thoroughly investigate the cause and effect in advance. While he will have a short reprieve from the demands on his time, Mark’s life will be a lot busier for the next four years and West Chester will greatly benefit from it.
Trustee Lang – Of the four, Trustee George Lang will probably not see a drastic change in time spent on Township duties. Since first meeting George Lang last summer, my (general) opinion of politicians and elected officials changed. Initially, I was impressed with how much time he spent with regard to my personal zoning issue. In a Township of over 60,000 people, I was surprised and admittedly suspicious that a Trustee would give so much attention to one man and one small zoning citation. Over the last year and a half, I’ve discovered that I’m really not that special, my suspicions were based on the assumption that all politicians only act in their own self interest and to never be surprised by George Lang.
George seems to have his fingers on the pulse of everything going on in West Chester and frankly, unless he’s part machine, I’m not sure how he does it. I haven’t had a lot of one on one contact with Mr. Lang but I know he runs several businesses on top of all of his activity as Trustee which makes it even more impressive. I doubt the time spent managing his Trustee duties will change much. The drastic change Mr. Lang is going to see is in support for his common sense management of the Township. Many times I’ve heard Trustee Lang mention the phrase “core competencies” (police, fire, infrastructure) as a prism through which all Board decisions should be viewed. I’ve heard similar statements from Mark Welch and with another Trustee vote in support of this philosophy, I expect we will see the benefits of it in several areas.
Less regulation means fewer bureaucrats battling senseless rules. This would help grow the business tax base, cut both legal expenses and payroll and allow those dollars to go towards much needed infrastructure improvements. Trustee Lang is going to see a drastic change in his ability to bring his conservative vision to our township…finally.
West Chester Town Hall
As for me and this website, I intend to shift from the focus of election back to that of transparency and oversight. Yesterday evening, I watched the election results come in with the Mark Welch campaign team. After the celebrations and congratulations, I told both Trustee Lang and Trustee Elect Mark Welch that this site will continue to be an information and opinion portal for the community. While I felt strongly that we needed a change on the board, campaigned for Mark Welch (and Matt King), I would be holding them accountable to the promises made in earning the victory. No drastic changes here, we’re just getting started!