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VALYO: What We Learned in 2022

2022 will be a year remembered for many things in Pennsylvania – the Phillies made an unlikely run to the World Series, the Eagles look ready to return to the Super Bowl, and voters in Pennsylvania bucked a century of political election trends to reject extremism in a historic way.

All of these achievements embody the spirit of Pennsylvania – we are a commonwealth of honest, passionate, hard-working people. We don’t have any unreasonable or lofty expectations of our elected officials, but we do expect that they too will be honest, hard-working, passionate advocates for us and put the needs of Pennsylvanians over partisan political interests.

My most important learning in 2022 is that this is still true, and that a commitment to truth, civility, and reason remains deeply embedded in Chester County and across the commonwealth. People in Pennsylvania were presented with two very different paths in the election this year. One was a path paved with hate, extremism and conspiratorial lies, and the other was paved with hope, vision, and leadership.

The message sent by voters was clear and one better heeded by Republicans across Pennsylvania, than by me. For the sake of our democracy, I hope that my Republican friends also see the lesson here and recognize that it is time to turn the page on the era of Trump and Trumpian impersonators, but early signs in Harrisburg aren’t promising.

I hope they see the lesson that Josh Shapiro, running on a message of bipartisanship and working for all Pennsylvanians, wins elections in a landslide. I hope they see the lesson that John Fetterman, running on a message of authenticity and honesty, was able to overcome horrible personal attacks to flip the 51st Senate seat to the Democrats.

And most of all, I hope they see the lesson that spending time attacking abortion rights, LGBTQ+ children, and our democratic process is not what the people want, but helped flip the State House to the Democrats for the first time in over a decade. The last few years were incredibly difficult for many people and 2022 was no exception. But Pennsylvanians have spoken decisively and I am excited for what lies ahead. Let’s all take the lessons that we were given and work together to make 2023 a fantastic year for Pennsylvania and the entire country.

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PODCAST: PA GOP’s Charlie Gerow Says It’s Time for a ‘Happy Warrior’

In this episode of the Delaware ValleyJournal podcast, veteran political strategist turned GOP candidate for governor Charlie Gerow says it’s time for Republicans to abandon “doom and gloom” messaging and replace it with “the happy warrior.”

Gerow tells DVJournal News Editor Linda Stein he began his career as a campaign aide to Ronald Reagan, for whom he continued to work for more than 25 years. Gerow discusses Donald Trump’s place in the current Republican Party, the kitchen-table issues he believes will motivate voters, and why “the biggest lie about the 2020 election is that there were no problems, because there were.”

Hosted by Michael Graham.


Will a Hot DelVal Housing Market Last in 2022?

A new top-10 list from placed Philadelphia in the top three “trendiest, affordable” metro areas in the nation. But with a red-hot housing market, are the suburbs truly affordable?

Across the nation, buyers have been competing fiercely for the supply of available homes. But some believe the hot Delaware Valley housing market may cool off in 2022.

“When [houses] are on the market, we’re getting tons of buyers,” said Tony Guida, real estate agent at Keller Williams Blue Bell & Conshohocken.

Main Line Regional Vice President of Berkshire Hathaway Fox & Roach Debbie McCabe said constrained supply has been exacerbated by an unwillingness to move.

“People were still not sure how to live their lives with COVID in our world, and people put off the moving decision,” this year, she said.

That limited supply with such high demand created a situation where prices could surge–a “seller’s market.”

So far buyers, despite the reality of higher prices, have remained persistent. Some 15,245 documents relating to property transfers have already been processed this year at the Chester County Recorder of Deeds office. That’s up nearly 3,000 compared to last year’s total, with still time remaining for documents to be processed at this writing.

“People are still buying,” said Chester County Recorder of Deeds Chris Pielli. He added despite weakening signs nationally of home purchase sentiments, the Philadelphia suburbs haven’t seen a similar decline.

“The national trends aren’t applying. You combine the good school districts, low tax rates, good space for development… It’s still very popular,” he said.

McCabe added she believed low interest rates were helping keep the market hot, but also local factors like the stability of the housing market in the area help prop it up too.

“I think Philadelphia as a general region has never seen the extreme highs or extreme lows that you see in some cities,” she said. “So when the market went down in 2011, we did not see the downside as bad as some cities did. When the market is super hot, maybe ours isn’t as crazy. It makes it a very good place to invest in.”

But is the area affordable? That depends.

Guida said it’s all relative to your own budget. “Affordable is kind of whatever works for you.” But from his perspective, Philadelphia is a less pricey area than some others. “I would say Philadelphia is generally affordable when you look at other cities close by. It’s nowhere near New York’s prices.”

And is the hot market being driven by people moving within the area, or are out-of-towners giving the Philadelphia area a try? Both Guida and McCabe said most of the moves in the area have been internal shifting, but McCabe said she saw a spike in new arrivals.

“Maybe they had grown up in this area and their jobs were in New York City, and now they can work anywhere, so they choose to come back to the area they knew and loved,” McCabe said.

Guida added that some of the internal shifts are people in the city moving out to the suburbs because they want more space. But they’re not moving too far away, and there are even many who are moving from further out suburbs to ones closer to the city. “No one wants to be in the city but [rather] close to it.”

After two record years for the area, the question remains whether next year will bring another year of prices substantially above the 2019 market levels. Pielli said some think “you just can’t go so hard and fast for so long,” and to expect a correction next year.

McCabe and Guida both reported seeing some cooling in the housing market, but levels continue to be elevated.

“I still think 2022 is going to be a seller’s market,” McCabe said. But Guida predicted further cooling is coming.

“We’re slowly taking buyers out of the pool so that will ultimately bring down the demand for houses which will bring down [prices],” he said. He added a typical fall in prices around this season occurred this year, which he thinks is a sign all is not only up in this market. “It’s nice to see that’s the trend that is happening even with everything going on.”


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Coleman Enters Lt. Gov Race With Political Experience, Positive Message

While keyboard warriors clash for online likes and America’s leaders bicker with each other in an “uncivil war,” driving up cable-news ratings while also driving away more moderate voters, Jeff Coleman still believes it’s a beautiful day in his neighborhood of Harrisburg.

The 46-year-old founder of Churchill Strategies and a former Republican member of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives is fashioning himself as a Mr. Rogers of Republicans in his bid for lieutenant governor, which he announced last month on Facebook.

In many ways, Coleman’s nice-neighbor persona is a throwback to the big-tent GOP that the late President Ronald Reagan embodied, with his 11th commandment “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

Coleman knows he needs voters of “every political persuasion” to win.

“Politics is so harsh today that we are closing all of the roads back and basically we’re saying, ‘Stay in your silo, your blue silo, I stay in my red silo. I’ll listen to our media sources, and you listen to yours,’ and we make daily judgment calls on people because of their bumper stickers and their preferences,” Coleman told Delaware Valley Journal. “We’re scanning people to find the point of disagreement. Whether they shop at Whole Foods or whether they shop at Walmart. Whether they’re Chick-fil-A people or whether they would dare to go to McDonald’s. Or whether they’re independent coffee owners or Starbucks owners.”

Coleman’s tempered beliefs can be traced to his early beginnings.

The son of parents who were missionaries, he spent his early years living outside Manilla, in the Philippines, where he recalled going to a wet market each morning to get vegetables and meats as he got in touch with his mother’s culture and learned a second language.

The family lived through the People Power Revolution, resulting in the forced exile of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was dogged by election-fraud allegations and for violently cracking down on protestors who opposed his regime.

Coleman credited that experience with awakening his appetite for politics.

“The events were amazing because two million Filipinos, in the course of several days, rallied to the side of the new Philippine president. And democracy won,” Coleman said. “The idea of politics was pretty hopeful to me. I thought you could really do anything.”

After returning to the U.S., Coleman settled down in Apollo Borough, an old coal-mining town about 35 miles from Pittsburgh, where his dad led a small Presbyterian church.

He volunteered for his first political campaign at 13, went on to graduate from Liberty University, a longstanding Mecca of conservative politics, and later became a member of his hometown council.

At 25, Coleman was elected to a seat in the Democratic stronghold of the 60th House District, relying on a door-to-door campaign to defeat longtime Democratic incumbent Tim Pesci, who was criticized for running a “condescending” race.

Pesci derisively referred to Coleman as “Jeffy” and called campaign volunteers “the Children from the Corn.”

Politics so consumed Coleman that they were intertwined in all facets of his life. He proposed to his wife the day he was sworn in. Their marriage suffered while he was in office, so he retired ahead of the 2004 election, looking to salvage their relationship.

He later founded the Harrisburg-based Churchill Strategies, a communications and political consulting firm that prides itself on “telling each story with grace and authenticity.”

With his marriage and family life stable, Coleman is dipping his toe back into politics, believing it’s still possible to win with old-fashioned, respectful debate.

“Rebuilding the public square is the only way that a conservative or a progressive is going to get long-term sustained changes on issues we care about,” Coleman said. “If you burn down the public square, and don’t have political opponents but political enemies, there is really no recourse but to take your politics into the streets. And that’s what you see in a banana republic.”

Coleman’s supporters believe he’s a refreshing reprieve from politicians besotted with winning Twitter wars.

“Jeff’s what the Commonwealth needs. He comes to the table with built-in credibility. He’s a guy who has a good heart and will be civil,” said Philly pastor Joe Watkins, one of Coleman’s friends who served as a White House aide to George H.W. Bush and previously ran for Pennsylvania lieutenant governor. “Nobody should mistake his kindness for weakness. It takes great strength to be kind and not be retaliatory.”

For his part, Coleman is focused on a narrow menu of issues that he says are important to Pennsylvanians of all stripes, including restorative criminal justice — naturally, Colemans says, since the lieutenant governor sits on the state’s pardon board — education that gives parents a voice in their children’s experiences, and perhaps above all, sober and competent leadership in times of crisis.

Pennsylvania has one of the nation’s highest rates of incarceration, at 659 per 100,000 people, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. Local school board races have become battlegrounds for many national issues, as Democrats and Republicans slug it out on everything from the teaching of critical race theory to whether students should wear masks and be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Coleman may come across to some Republicans as too liberal for such beliefs as reforming the criminal justice system to rehabilitate ex-offenders and espousing a softer view on critical race theory as one explanation for “the horrors of racism and consequences of generational poverty.”

But he says civility and compromise are musts if Republicans want to remain relevant.

“Politics amplifies that entire series of questions that are irrelevant when it comes to actually deciding should we pave the road, should we build a store, should we legalize something, should we ban this?” Coleman said. “I have been very careful not to single out any one political figure because when I do that the conversation ends. There’s got to be amnesty for people who voted for Joe Biden. We need Joe Biden voters to come back to the Republican Party, or we don’t win the suburbs. That’s a fact.”

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