Paul’s Full Responses to The League of Women Voters Candidate Questionnaire

I was asked to participate in the League of Women Voters Candidate Questionnaire. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about and writing my responses, only to find out that there was a 500 character limit.

So, I am posting my full responses here for you to read and ask questions, if you have them.

What one issue is your top priority and why?  What would you do to address it if you are elected?

Once elected, my top priority will be to restore transparency in our local government while fostering open and honest communication between residents, elected officials, government administration and other stakeholders. 

When I first became involved as a concerned constituent in Upper Dublin, I found the relationship between elected officials and concerned citizens to be quite hostile.  I have witnessed residents being berated and belittled in public meetings.  I have seen elected officials tell residents, on the record, that their concerns would not impact final decisions because minds had already been made up.  This is not how we should govern.  Elected officials should always be ready to hear and respect constituent concerns, be open to hearing other opinions and be willing to act on their behalf.  I have often heard our elected officials use the term “representative republic” as a mandate to do what they see fit, despite the obvious concerns of constituents.  I had a history teacher who taught us a lesson that sticks with me to this day.  Representative government does not exist only to enact the will of the majority, it also exists to protect the rights of and address the concerns of the minority.

We need to employ a multifaceted approach to improve communication while rebuilding trust with our constituents. The first step is to always be available — Upper Dublin Township Officials need to embrace new and alternative methods of communication. With the growing use of social media, text and email, it is imperative that elected officials maintain a presence on these platforms to connect with their constituents and the pulse of the community.  I will also work to ensure that all Township meetings are shared regularly across multiple platforms and strive to grow community participation in the processes of government.  I plan to hold both regular, in-person and virtual town hall meetings with constituents to discuss and address their concerns real time.  This real time communication will also include continuing to use door-to-door canvassing and online surveys.  I will work with local media outlets to ensure that important issues are being brought to the attention of the residents of Upper Dublin, as well as providing all my constituents, not just subscribers and registered voters, with updates by mail at least once per quarter.  Lastly, I will also work with my fellow Commissioners and the Township administration to start a Township wide community news letter to provide regular updates on issues that affect all UD residents.

Given current concerns in our area over groundwater contamination, what will you do to protect our water supplies and citizen’s health?

The Pennsylvania Constitution lists clean water and clean air as guaranteed human rights. As an elected official who swears an oath to that Constitution, it will be my responsibility to ensure that this right is protected for all constituents and all residents who are affected by this contamination.

There is a very strong network of local activists who have been at the forefront of this fight and deserve much of the credit for the progress that has been made to date.  I will use this powerful resource to make sure that I am being kept abreast of what my constituents concerns are and where we need to proceed to ensure that they feel safe and secure with their water supplies.  While many elected officials have stepped up to help with this issue, it is the concern and hard work of the boots on the ground that has made the true difference in this fight.

I will work with water service providers to ensure that on-going testing is being performed and that the measures that have been put in place to this point are effectively cleaning our water supplies.  Often, we are told that the solution is in place and everyone moves on to the next issue.  Regular maintenance of the new filtration systems and testing of our water supplies going forward is imperative and adherence must be enforced.

Communication is also key in this case.  I will ensure that all residents, especially those with private wells are being warned of the need to test their water and finding ways for them to do so, with as little cost as possible.  We all have the right to know when our water supplies may be contaminated, it should not matter if we get our water from a public utility or from a well.

I will also work to ensure that neighboring municipalities, who supply water to residents of Upper Dublin are taking the necessary steps to provide clean drinking water.  I will work to develop partnerships between water service providers and find ways of providing funding for filtering when service providers cannot.

Lastly, I will work with State and Federal officials to ensure that the Federal Government begins to take responsibility for the contamination that it has caused.  I have often questioned why it became the responsibility of the Commonwealth and Local Government to incur the expense and responsibility for contamination that is directly linked to the irresponsible actions of our Federal Government.

A Quick Note Before the Primary

Tomorrow is the big day! Tomorrow we will be out at the polls in Ward 3 working hard to get on the ballot for November! This is in no way the end of this journey, but it is the culmination of months of planning, hard work and sacrifice by more people than I can count.

I want to take this chance to thank everybody for the many ways you have supported me. Whether it was with your generous offerings of time, talent, space for a yard sign or donations, many people have shown me a great deal of support and I want to thank all of you!

I especially want to thank my wife Adrienne and daughter Tori. They have been my closest advisers and most vocal cheerleaders. They have also made the greatest sacrifice by giving up their time with me, so I can offer that time to our community.

I also want to give a special thanks to the UD United Team and the UDRC who have shown that they can rise above partisan politics for the good of our community. They have shown me that even through the hard fights and personal attacks, that team work will get us through.

In the end that is the message I think we should all take away from this. No matter what is going on outside the borders of Upper Dublin, here in our little community, we can find ways to work together for the good of the community. I truly have had the honor of seeing the best this community has to offer over the past few months. I have learned a great deal about Upper Dublin, Ward 3, my neighbors and most importantly myself.

Thank you all again for all of your support!

Paul

My Response to Commissioner Scarpello’s Statement

To say I was confused by what happened Tuesday evening at the Board of Commissioners meeting is an understatement. I was awe struck. I was there in March when the vote was taken. I listened to the Commissioners. I listened to the public comments and heard Commissioner Scarpello’s constituents address him directly at times. While his vote against the library move was a surprise, it made sense to me at the time. Had I been in his position, knowing that many of my constituents were against the move, I would have voted the same way. I had spoken to Commissioner Scarpello a couple of weeks prior to the March meeting and while at that time he stood in support of the move, he had expressed some of the same concerns then that he brought up when he voted no.

Over the days following the vote I heard theories for why he may have changed his mind. Some comical, some horrible, some were even plausible. However, none had any evidence to back them up. So, I moved on. I didn’t feel a need to question why. By April, I figured we had all moved on. So, as you can imagine, I was taken completely by surprise when I heard his statement for the record on Tuesday. My presumptive opponent in the upcoming election had just publicly stated that he believed he should have voted against the concerns of his constituents.

By the next day new theories had started to formulate. This time I didn’t find any of them comical. I wished that they weren’t plausible, but as more evidence came to light, they not only seemed plausible, they started to feel possible.

Since Tuesday, I was reminded that Commissioner Scarpello had written a letter to his constituents after the vote. In it he expressed his support of his constituents’ concerns. This only added to my questions about why he would make a public statement disavowing his vote. I was also forwarded a letter from the UD Democratic Committee to its members. It expressed the Committee’s explicit support of the library move. It encouraged them to be present at the March meeting and to contact their Commissioners. Could Commissioner Scarpello have been compelled by his party leaders to disavow his vote? If he was, how can we as residents of this Township stand for that?

I know that all this evidence is circumstantial, but I also know that this is not a court of law. We as voters must look at everything that is laid out before us and make a choice. We must ask, do we want to continue to support a Commissioner who would publicly disavow his vote in support of his constituents’ concerns? In the worst case, do we want to continue to support a Party Committee that has shown that it will lord its power over one of their own elected officials, if they do not stay in lock step with the party line?

These are questions that you will have to answer for yourselves over the coming months, but I for one hope that you will join me in challenging those who would ignore your voices. Speak loudly. Support candidates who will listen to their constituents and challenge the status quo.

April 9th, 2019 Upper Dublin Board of Commissioners Stated Meeting Notes

(I will be writing a blog post this week to address my feelings on Commissioner Scarpello’s prepared statement.  His statement is quoted in full in the body of my notes.)

Commissioner Tackel called the meeting to order.

Pledge of Allegiance

Human Relations Commission Report

  • The Commission is working on Human Relations Training for the UDPD.

Steve Colsher was recognized for 25 years of service with UD public works.

Twining Valley Presentation:  This was the same presentation that was given at the February 27th meeting.

Interesting discussion points on Twining Valley:

  • Commissioner Ferry asked about the cost of the Pavilion.  Estimated at $80-100K.
  • Twining Valley encompasses 18% of the current open space in Upper Dublin.
  • The Community Reinvestment Funds that are slated for this project (~$1M) are a loan and must be repaid to the Community Reinvestment Fund
    • This fund is from the sale of the sewer system and is a capital buffer that can be used for projects but must be repaid.
    • This fund is often used to back projects, which provides an active project for which grant monies can be requested.
  • Commissioner Feldman reminded us that this is not a done deal and that funding is a concern.
    • The sale of part of the Twining Valley space was again brought up.
    • I did speak to Commissioner Feldman after the meeting and he did state that not all the 18 acres on the south side of road was being considered, but a smaller 6 acres parcel that could bring ~$6M in revenue.
    • That money could be used to fund the multiple projects including the library and Twining Valley.
    • I did express my concern over the sale and subsequent development.  Commissioner Feldman did understand my concerns and was open to the conversation about density and traffic concerns along Twining Rd.
    • Commissioner Feldman also expressed that while this is an option, it is not the only option and is not even necessarily the best or most favored option, just one of the options.

Committee Reports

  • Nothing of any great consequence was reported.  See meeting minutes when posted.

Municipal Authority Report

  • Nothing was reported.  See meeting minutes when posted.

Standard Business

  • All motions were passed unanimously.  See meeting minutes when posted.

Zoning Hearing Board Cases

  • Nothing of any great consequence was reported.  See meeting minutes when posted.

Public Comment

  • Mr. Brown spoke about his request to have a private pistol range on his property.
    • His request went to the Acting Chief who declined the request.
    • Mr. Brown explained that the locations he has chosen for such a range were within the safety regulations provided by the State.
    • He also provided the Township Ordinance and State laws covering private ranges.
    • Commissioner Tackel requested that Mr. Brown withhold his request until the new Chief of Police is installed in the next ~2 months.
    • Mr. Brown was amendable to this course of action.
    • Commissioner Feldman had concerns that the Township Ordinance was so vague and did not place any restriction on the ability of a resident to set up a range on their property
    • Other Commissioners agreed and feel they should look at updating the Ordinance.
    • Paul Leonard reminded the Commissioners that State law heavily preempts the Township from passing firearms ordinances
  • A resident who had been in contact with the Board of Commissioners spoke about information that he had sent regarding mixed use development in the FW Business park.
    • He feels that a more walkable urban landscape will attract millennials.
  • I asked about the structural reinforcement line item in the budget for the library.
    • Per Commissioner Tackel, the amount was now $84K and was specifically for reinforcing the second floor to hold the weight of the books.
    • He is not aware of any other structural concerns.
  • I also asked if there is a point at which the cost would lead the Board to re-evaluate the project
    • Commissioner Tackel advised that the amount in the bid was the amount that the Board will hold the engineers to.
    • In his time on the Board he stated that he had never seen a significant overage occur on a Township project.
  • Jill Florin asked about the cut through to Highland
    • Commissioner Feldman stated that any new driveways to Highland would be at the discretion of the developers.
  • Jill Florin also expressed her concern about the Board’s characterization of the library project as a “Need” instead of a want.
    • She expressed her concern that clean water was a need and the library was want.
    • Members of the board agree with the importance of holding Ambler water accountable for testing and reporting on their PFAS levels.
    • Paul Leonard stated that at a recent meeting Ambler Borough elected officials expressed dismay at how the UD Board was pushing Ambler Water.
    • Ambler Borough officials felt UD was overreaching.
  • Anita Brister asked if the Board felt that our high tax rates could be a cause for businesses not coming to FW Business Park.
    • Commissioner Ferry pointed her to a document on the Township website that discusses the growth of business in the FW Business Park.
    • Commissioner Gushue pointed to the difference between Class A Commercial and Class B Commercial real estate.
    • Class A real estate is near capacity.
    • Class B real estate is stagnant.
    • The Board hopes to see Class B real estate developed into mixed use, which would attract businesses to the FW Business Park.
  • A resident got up to speak about the agreement that was signed prevent cut through traffic from the FW Business Park.
    • Per his interpretation of the agreement there is no binding responsibility on the Township, only on the developer who signed the agreement at the time.
  • Rachel Goldsmith got up to discuss improving communication with the Board.
  • Rachel Goldsmith also commented on the changing viewpoints of millennials and that while they are a more urban generation, they do tend to change that view as they get older and have families.
  • A resident got up to discuss his concerns about Zoning Board hearings

Commissioner Scarpello read a prepared statement for the record, recanting his no vote on the Library.

                “Upon reflection, my vote last month was not the vote I intended to make.  I want to apologize for the confusion my vote created.  What I wanted to accomplish was to acknowledge my constituents concerns about the cost of the new building and that I heard them and I support those concerns.  Our community has to face the inescapable fact that the library and the Township departments need more space.  At this time, the best solution for the library is using the building at 520 Virginia Dr.  While this building may not be the ideal solution, I don’t know such a building exists.  Taken as a whole, the benefit to the Township will exceed the cost.  I will work to ensure that it does.  If I had to do it over, I would have articulated my constituents concerns and voted yes.  Thank you, Mr. President.”

Action Items (See Minutes when posted)

  • Consider action on Ordinance to Amend Regulations for Public Swimming Pools – PASSED
    • I believe the change made pools inside of apartment complexes and facilities with indoor pools private, which would exempt them from the requirements of other public pools and swim clubs.
  • Consider action on Resolution Recognizing EMS week, May 19 to May 25, 2019. – PASSED
  • Consider action on Resolution Recognizing National Library Week, April 7 to April 13, 2019. – PASSED
  • Consider action on Resolution to support PA DCNR C2P2 grant application submission for Twining Valley property’s conversion to a park. – PASSED
  • Consider action on Resolution for Sandy Run Middle School Preliminary and Final Land Development Plan. – PASSED
    • Commissioner Gushue asked about the need for the added expense of an enlarged pedestrian triangle at the intersection of Twining Rd and Limekiln Pk.
    • This, along with new traffic lights will help prevent congestion while also improving safety for crossing pedestrians.
    • Commissioner Gushue felt that this concern was already being addressed by the presence of a crossing guard.
    • The expectation is this will also help other pedestrians cross safely.
  • Consider action to Approve PennDOT TE-160 Resolution for Sandy Run Middle School project to install Traffic Signal Changes for Limekiln Pike and Twining Road intersection. – PASSED
  • Consider action on Resolution to authorize award of ESCO contract for 520 Virginia Drive. – PASSED
  • Consider action on Resolution to authorize award of D’Huy contract for 520 Virginia Drive. – PASSED
    • Not to exceed ~$360K
  • Consider action on Resolution to authorize award of GKO Architects contract for 520 Virginia Drive. – PASSED
    • Not to exceed ~$590K
    • Approximately half of this cost has already been paid
  • Consider action on Resolution to Authorize Disposition of Public Records. – PASSED
  • Consider approval of Audio/Video upgrades to include broadcast, streaming and on demand video. – PASSED
    • I spoke to Paul Leonard after the meeting and they expect work to start sometime in June
    • Expect the new system in place by fall
    • Current system is over 15 years old
  • Consider authorizing Release of Escrow Funds – PASSED
    • Mattison Castle Release No. 1 $54,866.30
    • Mattison Common Release No. 1 $235,830.00
    • There is a total of 4 separate Escrow funds.
      • Castle
      • Common
      • Senior Care
      • Residential
  • Consider motion to Allocate Code Enforcement Revenues. – PASSED
  • This allocation ends up being part of a cost savings for the township.

Next Stated Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday May 14th at 7pm.

Paul Nicotera Announces Candidacy for Upper Dublin Commissioner

Today Paul Nicotera officially announced his Candidacy for the Upper Dublin Board of Commissioners representing Ward 3.

Paul is a US Army Veteran who served in Germany and was deployed as a Peacekeeper in Bosnia. Since his honorable discharge in 2001 he has worked in the Telecommunications Industry, holding a variety of leadership positions.  He has lived in Upper Dublin with his wife Adrienne and daughter Victoria since 2014.

By living up to his belief in smart, efficient, small government, protecting individual freedom, supporting market innovation, and encouraging alternative revenue sources rather than growing debt and taxes, Paul hopes to realize a new vision for the future of Upper Dublin. 

He hopes to realize his vision by:

  • Renewing a strong sense of Community: “By being open, honest and communicative, we will ensure that all voices are heard and considered. We all want to be engaged and as your Commissioner I will work to ensure that you stay informed and that your voices are being heard.”
  • Building for our future: “We all feel strongly about how our community will grow and change in the future. We will attract new businesses and development to our town, grow our tax base and still maintain the small town feel that makes Upper Dublin so special to us all.”
  • Supporting Innovation: “As I have spoken to and met with many residents, I have heard such great passion and wonderful ideas for your vision of Upper Dublin. As your Commissioner, I will make sure that your ideas are given serious consideration.”
  • Being Fiscally Responsible: “Great communities like Upper Dublin need money to provide the wonderful services we have. We are all willing to contribute, but we also know that rising tax burdens and growing debt can harm the value of our homes and be an obstacle to attracting new business and development. We must be smarter about generating revenue. We will look to the many great charitable organizations in Upper Dublin and we will work hard bring our State and Federal tax dollars back to Upper Dublin.”

With your support, Paul’s vision is to build an Upper Dublin that will continue to be a flourishing suburb, with small town charm and a firm sense of community. Paul will be getting out into the community to meet his neighbors, listen to their stories, and hear their vision and ideas for the future of Upper Dublin in order to earn their support and their vote.

Visit www.pauln4udward3.com for ongoing Campaign updates. From there you can also contact Paul to discuss issues and stay informed.

Your donations and willingness to volunteer are encouraged and greatly appreciated!

“Together, we will shape the future of Upper Dublin!”

Donate to Paul’s Campaign | Volunteer to Help Paul’s Campaign

PaulN4UDWard3.com | facebook.com/PaulN4UDWard3 | Twitter.com/PaulNicotera