Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mid-County Delco Dems Candidate Forum

Sunday evening I attended the Mid-County Delaware County Democrat’s candidates’ forum. This is a well-run event, this year and previous years that I’ve attended. Kudos to the organizers. Candidates for a number of offices gave short presentations. It may not be much fun for them but for voters (and other interested parties) it is a great chance to see and hear a lot of people in one sitting.

There was a good turnout. Someone with better math skills than mine said there were 150 people there. Bill Thomas acted as master of ceremonies.

Here are my notes. Apologies in advance for any errors or misconceptions.

Walter Waite, 161st state house district (currently held by Bryan Lentz who is running for congress). Waite is a Navy veteran, having served in the Middle East and Viet Nam. He retired last June and intended to take it easy but then he met Bryan Lentz. Waite has been to Harrisburg four times and “walked around the Capitol with my eyes open to see how things work.” His main goal is to get people back to work. Personal observations: Waite is impressive. He has a distinguished appearance and an air of calm authority. He speaks well and sounds intelligent, capable, rational, and business-like. I wish him well.

Joe Hoeffel, governor. He is running because he wants to challenge state government to do better, to challenge people to understand our best days are ahead of us. The Democratic Party must find and hold the progressive center. He is socially liberal and fiscally responsible. Hoeffel would invest in job creation, public schools, respond to people’s needs, expand community colleges, and health care. He would work hard to represent all of us. Other priorities are environmental protection. The Marcellus Shale extraction process must produce clean water. Personal observations: Hoeffel was in good form this evening. He spoke well.

Chris Doherty, governor. Doherty provided some biographical information. He took office in Scranton eight years ago. The city was not in good shape then but was recently cited by both Business Week and Money Magazine as a good place to live or do business. He paved streets, invested in parks and public schools. Our coal, steel, railroads and concrete built this country. We have to invest in ourselves. We turn the state around in our cities and town. He has the record to make a difference. He is building the first new medical school in Pennsylvania in 50 years in downtown Scranton. He invites people to visit him on “face page.” Personal observations: This was the first time I’d had the opportunity see and hear Doherty. I heard him talking baseball with some people before the event started. To my uneducated ear it sounded like he was holding his own. During his presentation he spoke well and gave a good account of his accomplishments.

Bob Brady, whose first congressional district represents a small part of Delaware County came up to introduce the two lt gov candidates. He told a few jokes that were actually funny. He did a good job introducing Doris Smith-Ribner but his affection for and long history with Jonathan Saidel were evident.

Doris Smith-Ribner, lt governor. Appointed to the Court of Common Pleas in 1985, ran for the office and lost. In 1987 ran for the state Commonwealth Court, won, and stayed there for 20 years, retiring in 2007. She was not endorsed by the Democratic Party when she ran. She would use her position as a bully pulpit. Personal observations: I was impressed! Smith-Ribner has a very polished appearance and is a dynamite speaker, very crisp and professional.

Jonathan Saidel, lt gov. Being elected means people take a little bit of their power and give it to you. He has a high vote %, got 90% of the vote in Philadelphia. His approval rating is 93% in Philadelphia and surrounding counties. He made a positive effect on people and on those not yet born. He never dealt with anything but positive change. In favor of making a change in people’s lives. Will work 24 hours a day.

Dan Onorato surrogate Calvin Skinner, gov. SEPA field director for Onorato. Dan Onorato was elected by 1.2 million people, more than any other office except for governor and Philadelphia mayor. He oversees a $770 million budget, the port authority, and transportation system. He brought $10.8 billion to the region. The other candidates talk about millions but the state budget is in billions. Onorato is bringing steel manufacturing to the area. He is committed to a progressive agenda, pro-choice, would not change state law on this topic, committed to civil unions. Committed to fully funding education according to formula. Use education as a partner with business. Most detailed policy statements on the web. Personal observations: Skinner was a great speaker and the only speaker who gave out the campaign site URL during their talk. Smart move.

Joe Sestak, senate. Asked to run by Senators Menendez and Casey. Totally disagree with Democratic establishment that you can embrace someone who [long list of things Arlen Specter has done]. What did that 60th vote get us? Respects Specter but disagrees. Disagrees with Democratic establishment that makes deals like that with Ben Nelson. did not gain White House through dealmaking but through audacity. Politics over principles has got to change. Personal observations: Sestak was on fire, the first candidate to skip using the microphone and walking into the aisles of the audience.

Arlen Specter surrogate Congressowoman Marjorie Margolies, senate. Since this is Sestak’s congressional district she was told she would feel a little like Jack Kevorkian at an AARP meeting. Specter was the 60th vote for the stimulus. NARAL supports Specter. lists others, could go on and on. Toomey has a 97% record with the American conservative [missed last word], Santorum only had 88?%. Specter is in the center, the moderate middle. Personal observations: She did a good job.

Mike Farrell, 26th state senate district. Ran last time and got 48% of the vote. If a Navy admiral doesn’t need a microphone then an Army lieutenant doesn’t either. We need to finish the job. Politics is not about a pendulum swinging back and forth but about compasses. Challenges everyone to get more involved. We need to be unified in message.

Margo Davidson, 26th state senate district. Has a theater background, doesn’t need a microphone. Worked for Obama’s campaign and candidates all over the area. Public service is not a right but a privilege. [Current state senator] Erikson no longer represents the district. She has started two non-profits. Believes in public service, passionate about small businesses.

Teresa Touey, 7th congressional district. Spoke on the Massachusetts election, not a message, disagrees with Sestak on that. quotes a NYT column on the State of the Union address. Talks about Bush. Quotes something her postman told her.

Gail Connor, 7th congressional district. Will be your voice. Mother of 3 children. businesswoman for 21 years, environmental professional and lawyer. Time for halls of congress to have someone with my background in business. Wants to create jobs. Will seek out real estate professionals to help with abandoned buildings. Son graduated from college, had trouble finding a job and can no longer be on parents’ health insurance. In favor of a public option for health care. Create public boarding school for promising kids from dangerous areas. Plugs her book.

Bryan Lentz, 7th congressional district. First job out of college was in the Airborne Rangers. worked in district attorney’s office, a history of public service. People of 7th district deserve a say in what kind of country they have. We haven’t solved a big problem in this country in some time. let’s start with health care. Starts a call and reply with audience, “do we want to live in a country that …” “No!” mentions health care, a constituent who was denied health care because she had polio in 1952, energy dependence, greed rules the day. Who is for the status quo – those who profit from it. Fight is not Democratic versus Republican, but progress versus status quo, people versus profit and power. “I’m not afraid of anybody. I have the truth on my side." Personal observations: Lentz was in rare form and really had the audience fired up. He’s a big guy and it makes an impression when he thumps the podium for emphasis.

Final note: My thanks to the gentleman who went out of his way to invite me.

Blogger's note: In another case of "don't blog late into the night" I discovered a number of typos in this post this morning and have corrected them, though some may have escaped my notice. sorry about that.


quadmom said...

I wish I had realized you might be there - I would have had my 'where's Jane' antennae up!
Glad you could make it.

AboveAvgJane said...


It's a case of making lemonade out of lemons. Short pudgy middle-aged women wearing nondescript colors just blend so nicely into the woodwork. ;)

The easiest way to catch me is to stake out the brownie / cookie table. I always stop at those!