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Democrats Flip Central Bucks School Board Winning All Five Seats

The Democrats won all five seats on the Central Bucks School Board Tuesday, sending a message that voters were unhappy with the GOP-controlled board’s direction. Reforms such as allowing challenges of patently pornographic books in school libraries and keeping political banners and other items out of classrooms, unless those were part of the curriculum, will likely be swept aside.

Democrats Heather Reynolds, Dana Foley, Rick Haring, Susan Gibson, and incumbent Karen Smith won handily.

“I am so very happy and relieved to have won reelection and to share this victory with all my running mates. But this isn’t just a victory for me or my fellow candidates,” Smith said. “This is a victory for our students, our teachers, our support staff, and our community. With this vote, we showed that love is stronger than hate and compassion is stronger than fear. And voters made clear they will not be divided or distracted from working together — all of us — to solve the real issues our students face.

Aarati Martino, who lost to Haring, thanked her supporters.

“I learned a lot and have not a single regret for running,” said Martino. “And congratulations to my opponents for winning the board race. Good luck!”

Martino told DVJournal, “We lost because not enough voters saw the danger in the policies that our opponents will propose and effect.

“We conservatives have this Cassandra-like curse of seeing the longer term and unintended consequences of actions that intend to help people but usually make things much worse. I predict our district will not be as effective in educating our children and preparing them for the future as they were for this past generation. It will take time for these policies to degrade the system because the district internally has been run extraordinarily well with many amazing people in charge, not to mention the superb teachers and staff on the front lines. And the press will not be transparent on this matter, so parents will have no idea that things could (have) been so much better. In fact, now that their endorsed candidates are in charge, at least now, the media will give us a reprieve from the constant negative media barrage!

“It is sad because I know for a fact many people voted against us because of unhappiness with their families, with their children, with their lives. These new progressive policies will do nothing to improve their situation and will likely worsen it. And I feel bad for them because I do believe our slate could have led the way in showing a much better way for nurturing and educating our children together,” she said.

Her husband, Paul Martino, also shared his thoughts on Facebook.  =Paul Martino founded a political action committee, Back to School PA PAC, in 2021 and successfully backed school board candidates across the state, with 60 percent of those candidates winning.

“The first big message here is that Pennsylvania is a blue state and has been since 2020,” he said. “We stuck our finger in the dike in 2021, but the water has fully crested now. We lost pretty much everywhere last night, from row offices to the state Supreme Court. And, of course, in many school board races, including CBSD and Pennridge.

“This bodes poorly for the 2024 nominee for president here in the previously purple state of Pennsylvania, despite the recent polling. I think the current polling methods don’t reflect the now baked D advantage that the voting changes of Act 77 (mail-in ballots) brought.”

Paul Martino added that the pending redistricting decision by a judge will make it unlikely for Republicans to win seats on CBSB in the future.

“That’s terrible news if you want to keep the prestige of the district, as the Ds have made their priorities clear:…going back to advocacy in the classroom, DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) initiatives, more social-emotional learning, etc. None of this makes education outcomes better but promotes their social agenda. The kids are the real losers here.”

Dr. Steven Mass, Smith’s opponent, said, “The only winners in Tuesday’s elections are the private schools, who will have their enrollment skyrocket in the next few years when parents see what policies are coming into our district.”

Smith said, “Now that the election is behind us, I am eager to start working on some of the priorities I shared with voters during the campaign. Restoring civility to our meetings, beginning to revise these policies that have divided us over the last couple of years, working to bring additional mental health supports for our students, and ensuring we are providing a safe and inclusive environment for all our students and staff.”

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Delaware Valley Election Preview

Voters in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties head to the polls on Tuesday to decide several races across the Delaware Valley.

A Montgomery County judge, Republican Carolyn Carluccio, is in the most high-profile race in the state. She is facing Democrat Dan McCaffery for a seat on the state Supreme Court. Carluccio is president judge on Montgomery County’s Court of Common Pleas. McCaffery, a Philadelphian, sits on the state Superior Court. The pair are vying for an opening left by last year’s death of Chief Justice Max Baer.

Around $22 million has been spent on the Carluccio-McCaffery race. That includes donations from labor groups, the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association’s political action committee, and the Commonwealth Leaders Fund. Despite the spending, a recent Franklin & Marshall Poll found that 7 in 10 registered voters don’t have an opinion on either Carluccio or McCaffery.

Democrats would remain in control of the court if Carluccio would be elected, but it would be a slim 4-3 majority. Should McCaffery win, the court would keep its 5-2 Democrat majority.

Other statewide elections include the Superior Court judge race featuring Democrats Jill Beck and Timika Lane and Republicans Harry F. Smail Jr. and Maria Battista. There is also the Commonwealth Court race between Republican Megan Martin and Democrat Matt Wolf.

Voters in all the counties are electing Common Pleas judges and nominees for various row offices.

Delaware County voters will decide a variety of important races. Three seats on the county council are up for grabs, including those currently held by three Democrats: Chair Monica Taylor, Ph.D., Vice Chair Elaine Paul Schaefer, and Christine A. Ruther. They are being challenged by Republicans Joy Schwartz, Jeffrey O. Jones, and Upland Borough Mayor William Dennon.

Republican attorney Beth Stefanide-Miscichowski has made concerns about rising crime the centerpiece of her race against incumbent Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, a Democrat.

The fiscally-flailing City of Chester is almost certain to get its first new mayor in seven years. City Councilman Stefan Roots defeated incumbent Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland in the Democratic primary in May. Roots will face independent Anita J. Littleton.

Polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and close at 8 p.m. To see a sample ballot, click here.

Bucks County elections have been peppered with controversy, including Democratic candidates putting the name of popular Republican District Attorney Matt Weintraub on their own campaign signs — without his permission.

“I was disappointed to learn that my name has been used by the Marseglia-Harvie campaign without my authorization or permission,” Weintraub, who’s running for Common Pleas judge, told DVJournal.

That would be Bucks County Commissioners Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia and fellow Democrat County Commission Board Chair Robert Harvie Jr., who are seeking second terms in office. Pamela A. Van Blunk, currently serving as Bucks County Controller, is running as a team with Republican Gene DiGirolamo, who is seeking a second term. Van Blunk and DiGirolamo have also made rising crime the centerpiece of their campaign.

There are also multiple races for the Central Bucks School District board, as well as other school boards across the DelVal. School District 1 voters will be picking between Democratic incumbent Karen Smith and Republican challenger Dr. Stephen Mass. District 2 features incumbent Republican Dana Hunter, the current school board president, against Democrat Heather Reynolds. In District 3, it’s Democrat Dana Foley against Republican Glenn Schloeffel. District 6 is a race between Republican Aarati P. Martino and Democrat Rick Haring. District 8 features Democrat Susan M. Gibson against Tony Arjona.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Sample ballots can be accessed here.

Montgomery County will see a major change in its leadership with the election of two new commissioners to the three-seat board. Jamila Winder, who was appointed to fill out the remainder of Val Arkoosh’s term, is running for election as a Democrat. Lawyer Neil Makhija, who ran for state representative in Carbon County in 2016, is running as a Democrat. Republicans Thomas DiBello, a businessman, and Liz Ferry, an Upper Dublin commissioner, are also seeking voters’ approval.

Other major contests include the sheriff’s race between Democratic incumbent Sean P. Kilkenny and Republican Ed Moye.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Sample ballots can be found here. People looking to see if they can vote in the election can get more information here.

Chester County’s polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

A referendum expanding the Honey Brook Township Board of Supervisors from three to five is creating local buzz.

There will also be a new District Attorney in Chester County. Ryan L. Hyde is running as a Republican against Democrat Christopher de Barrena-Sarobe.

There could also be turnover on the County Board of Commissioners. Incumbent Democrats Josh Maxwell and Marian Moskowitz are running for re-election. They are facing Republicans David C. Sommers and Eric Roe. The Democrats, who became the first Democratic majority to run the county in 2019, tout their record of inclusivity, affordable housing, and the environment. But the Republicans point to the escape of convicted murderer Danilo Cavalcante from the county prison despite a previous escape by an inmate using the same method, as a reason to question Maxwell and Moskowitz’s competency. Both serve on the Prison Board, along with Sheriff Fredda Maddox, also a Democrat. who is running for Common Pleas Judge. Her Chief Deputy Kevin Dykes, a Democrat, is being challenged by former sheriff’s deputy Republican Roy Kofroth.

A sample ballot can be found here.