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.