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New PAC Formed to Support Central Bucks Republican School Board Candidates

There’s a new PAC in town: Stop Extremism in Central Bucks Schools.

Bob Salera, a political strategist, heads the political action committee (PAC), whose mission is to defend candidates who want to keep what they believe is inappropriate content — such as depictions of sex acts — out of public schools.

Front and center in its first email is a picture of the five Democrats running for school board: incumbent Karen Smith, Dana Foley, Suan Gibson, Heather Reynolds, and Rick Haring, along with the slogan “The Corrupt Five.” They are posed with the books “Gender Queer” and “This Book is Gay,” opened to pages that illustrate a graphic sexual act and a cartoon of a man’s genitalia, along with the caption: “Bum: Up your bum you have a prostate gland which feels nice when massaged. The anus is also sensitive and responds to being played with.”

The ACLU and others have attacked the current Republican-controlled school board for the misnomered “book banning” for enacting a policy that allows school library books to be challenged and reviewed if they have gratuitous sex, violence, or pornographic illustrations. In CBSD and other Delaware Valley districts, parents have objected to those books and others that they deem unsuitable, especially for younger children.

The Democrats, using the title “Neighbors United,” did not respond to requests for comment. The GOP candidates–Dr. Stephen Mass, Board President Dana Hunter, Glenn Schloeffel, and Tony Arjona could not be reached for comment.  Aarati Martino said that she had never heard of the group.

“Everyone already knows about the disgusting agenda being promoted by the extremist Democrats running for Central Bucks School Board,” said Salera, who described the sex acts promoted in these books. “But what isn’t as widely known is their corrupt actions that have simultaneously been occurring. These morally bankrupt extremists can be assured that we will be relentless in shining a light on all of it between now and Election Day,” said Salera.

He added, “This has nothing to do with sexual orientation or sexual identity. This is about smut like this not belonging in school libraries. If The Corrupt Five think it is inappropriate to share these images on a website, then why do they think it is acceptable to share them with 11-year-old children? These are very sick people.”

Salera is well-known in GOP circles.

Before starting his firm, Salera was Dave White’s campaign manager when White ran for governor in 2022. He is a Pennsylvania native who worked for former Gov. Tom Corbett, worked on his gubernatorial campaigns, and worked on GOP presidential campaigns in Pennsylvania. He has also helped shape the NRCC’s messaging strategy as a senior communications team member in 2020 when the GOP made history by flipping 15 House seats when race prognosticators predicted the GOP would lose “dozens of seats.” Salera was also a senior NRSC communications team member when it defeated four incumbent senators (Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Bill Nelson in Florida, and Claire McCaskill in Missouri).

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Delco GOP Fundraiser Garners $10K for Fall Campaign

Candidates and their supporters socialized last Tuesday at the Delaware County GOP’s “Delco on the Deck” fundraiser at Anthony’s at Paxon Hollow.

Frank Agovino, Delco GOP chairman, rallied the troops for the fall campaign, telling them they will have to work hard to elect Republican candidates.

The event raised $10,000.

Agovino also introduced County Council candidates Jeff Jones, an insurance industry professional from Upper Darby, and Bill Dennon, the Upland Borough mayor who works as a maintenance mechanic.  A third council candidate, Joy Schwartz, a retired history teacher, who worked in the William Penn District, could not attend.

DA candidate Beth Stefanide-Miscichowski, Kyle and Christopher Grupp, who are married and running for the Radnor School Board.

Also on hand were Dawn Getty Sutphin, who is running for Common Pleas judge, and Beth Stefanide-Miscichowski, the Republican candidate for district attorney.

Sutphin currently runs her private legal practice but previously served as a Delaware Sutphin. She’s served as county assistant public defender, internal and outside counsel for PECO, and an attorney at Ballard Spahr.

Stefanide-Mischowski, now in private practice, spoke to DVJournal and others about a case she remembers from her early days in the district attorney’s office, watching the trial for serial killer Arthur Bomar, who preyed on young women.  Bomar stalked the victim, Aimee Willard, 22, at Smokey Joe’s, a Villanova bar, before killing her, Her empty car was found at an exit on I476 and her body was left in north Philadelphia.  Bomar, who was previously convicted of second-degree murder in Nevada, was on parole. He is now on death row.

Judicial candidate Dawn Sutphin, DA candidate Beth Stefanide-Miscichowski, county Council hopefuls Bill Dennon and Jeff Jones.

“It could be your daughter,” said Stefanide-Miscichowski, mentioning how crime can happen anywhere, even in Radnor. “It could be my daughter. Our office did an amazing job.”

But she does not think the DA’s Office is currently doing everything it can to bring criminals to justice under the management of her opponent, Democrat DA Jack Stollsteimer.

She noted that Stollsteimer “benched the man who prosecuted (Bomar) and did all the appeals,” only to bring him back on a per diem basis. She said Stollsteimer fired other experienced attorneys with institutional knowledge and could have trained young lawyers starting out.

(From left) Seamus Murtagh, Paul Murtagh, J.P. Kelly and Theresa Murtagh
enjoying the evening.

When he first ran for office, Stollsteimer received campaign funding from financier George Soros, who has backed DA candidates nationwide, including Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner.

“Crime is up outrageously,” said Stefanide-Miscichowski said. “Crime is leaching into Delaware County like never before.”

Agovino agreed with Stefanide-Mischowski.

“Crime is unbelievable,” Agovino said. “We need to do things differently. We need to support our police.”  And as for Stefanide-Mischowski, he said, “She’s right out of central casting.”

Stefanide-Mischowski worked in the District Attorney’s Office for eight years, serving in both the pre-trial and trial divisions of the office. Her work included handling misdemeanor and felony cases, including multiple homicides, and she was ultimately elevated to trial team leader of the office’s juvenile division. Upon starting her family, Stefanide-Miscichowski left the DA’s Office, worked with the Public Defender’s Office and eventually started her law practice, which specializes in elder law and estate planning.

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Candidates Vie For Delaware County DA Job

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, a Democrat seeking a second term, faces a strong challenger in Republican Beth Stefanide-Miscichowski.

Earlier in their careers, Stefanide-Miscichowski worked with Stollsteimer in the DA’s office before he left for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. During her eight-year tenure at the DA’s Office, she served in both the pre-trial and trial divisions of the office. Her work included handling misdemeanor and felony cases, including multiple homicides. She led the Trial Team of the office’s juvenile division before going into private practice once she started her family.

“I’m local,” said Stefanide-Miscichowski. “Born and bred in Delaware County. My dad owned a business in the city of Chester almost his entire career.”

She said that her parents, John and Patricia Stefanide, owned the woodworking business and were very active in the community.

Her interest in the law was piqued at Villanova University, where she had former Assistant DA Dennis McAndrews as an adjunct professor. McAndrews, who is perhaps best known for prosecuting John du Pont, who killed Olympic gold medal wrestler Dave Schultz, talked about the cases he prosecuted and whetted her appetite for working as a prosecutor. She went on to earn her law degree from Widener University School of Law.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer

When asked why he is seeking a second term, Stellsteimer pointed to his accomplishments in office.

He said that he “reduced the homicide rate in Chester by 60 percent and the overall gun violence incidents by 46 percent through Chester Partnership for Safe Neighborhoods, a “collaborative community-based strategy.”

He successfully sued opioid distributors.

“Because of my litigation, Delaware County will receive millions of dollars to invest in people and programs to help our residents who suffer from substance abuse disorders,” said Stollsteimer.

He also formed a Child Abuse and Exploitation Task Force to focus on highly trained municipal police officers to protect children. He was also the first Pennsylvania DA to successfully prosecute a contractor for wage theft in conjunction with then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro.

Stollsteimer also helped spearhead a 30 percent reduction in the prison population in Delaware County through new diversionary programs.

And “on Day One of my administration, I formed an Environmental Crimes Unit, the first in a DA’s office anywhere in Pennsylvania. My team collaborated with Attorney General Shapiro’s staff in a successful joint criminal prosecution of Energy Transfer, Inc. for the environmental damage caused by the Mariner 2 pipeline; and brought civil litigation against multinational chemical companies on behalf of our community of first responders exposed to harm from ‘forever chemicals,’” he said.

(However, Energy Transfer pleaded no contest with no admission of guilt. The company provided $10 million to clean up any water problems as part of an agreement.)

Stefanide-Miscichowski said, “Whether it be during my many years working in the Delaware County District Attorney’s office or now with my own Elder Law and Estate Planning Practice, public service has always been of the utmost importance to me. Being a voice for victims and having the opportunity to champion their rights and rectify wrongs in my career has made me an experienced, fair, and honest attorney. It is why I am proud to be running for Delaware County District Attorney.”

In law school, Stefanide-Miscichowski worked for two different presiding judges. Everyone told her not to go into the DA’s office, but she did anyway.

“I’m really passionate about it,” she said. “And then, when I started working with these people who I so admired, in 1995, when I became an assistant district attorney, I went to all the District Courts in Delaware County” to hand preliminary stages of cases. “Everything from rapes, robberies…I saw the police officers in action.” Once she passed the bar, she was offered jobs in various District Attorney’s Offices but wanted to stay in her home county.

She said she learned a lot from (former DA) Kat Copeland.

“She taught me a lot about jury trials and bench (judge only) trials and being fair and honest and striking the right balance to get justice. It isn’t about winning and losing. It’s about justice. The job is about justice. People don’t always appreciate that.”

Stollsteimer worked his way through college, graduating at age 34. He joined the DA’s Office as an intern while studying law at Temple University. He was recruited to the Safe Neighborhoods program at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in 2004, working to stop violence in North Philadelphia, earning a 100 percent conviction rate.

In 2006, former Gov. Ed Rendell appointed Stollsteimer as the state’s Safe Schools Advocate for Philadelphia. In that job, he reported the district’s failure to report violent crimes, which led to policy changes. He then worked as a deputy State Treasurer for consumer programs.

Stollsteimer lives in Havertown with his wife and two children.

Stefanide-Miscichowski said one of her most prominent cases involved two college students who had been drinking heavily at a bar in Conshohocken. On the way home, the driver struck a box truck, killing his friend, the passenger.

“He died on Lancaster Avenue, bleeding out, on the ground,” she said. She said the drunk driver was convicted of DUI and homicide by vehicle. “The trial was pretty salacious.”

But later, while in prison, he turned his life around and got a law degree.

“So by prosecuting him, and I took him down screaming and gnashing his teeth…He became aware his behavior was completely inappropriate,” she said. “It was such a success story in a surprising way.”

While she has been practicing law in the Orphan’s Court arena for 15 years, Stefanide-Mischowski said she handles cases there that help “very vulnerable people” with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease who are being exploited. “It’s a different kind of public safety,” she said. “I have a soft spot for those less fortunate and people who can’t speak out for themselves.”

But crime in the area has become so much of a problem that she’s running for DA to stop it.

“Even (Congresswoman) Mary Gay Scanlon was carjacked,” she said. “I have three kids who live in this community. I’m passionate about public safety, and crime is out of control.”

And if criminals feel they won’t be prosecuted, “they’re just going to become bolder and bolder.”

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GIORDANO: If Gym Gets In As Mayor of Philly, I’m Outta Here

When Delaware Valley Journal asked that I make my last column of the year about the biggest stories of the year, I was thrilled.

I decided that right out of the box I’d tell you 2022’s biggest story was the fact that we have nine candidates to become Philadelphia’s next mayor. And I believe at least three of them would make a marked difference in increasing public safety.

But one would make public safety much worse if elected.

I have interviewed former city council members Allan Domb and Cherelle Parker and state Rep. Amen Brown on several occasions and they are solidly pro-police and have good plans to turn Philadelphia around. Parker last week on my show unprompted attacked so-called safe injection sites and amplified her big plan for community policing. Domb was very adamant that he would flood Kensington with cops and shut down area drug corners. Brown has gone after the Philadelphia district attorney’s lenient on criminals policies and is very pro-police.  These three candidates would give Philadelphia a fighting chance to turn things around.

However, if former city councilperson Helen Gym becomes mayor, I will move out of Philadelphia.

She is the darling of every radical group in the city and many across the country. She would drive hundreds of policemen and women to leave the force and the woke policies she would enact would also set Philadelphia back. She might even make Jim Kenney’s eight years look decent.

The biggest suburban story this year was the work of Bucks County activists Megan Brock, Tim Daily, and Simon Campbell, Pennridge School Board President Joan Cullen, and the leaders of the Central Bucks School Board. Brock, who was voted the person of the year by my listeners, developed a number of devastating stories about local doctors and hospitals supporting minors using puberty blockers and getting surgery to change their biological sexual identity. Daily and Campbell won a big lawsuit against the Pennsbury School Board over First Amendment issues. Cullen and also leaders of the Central Bucks School District had to weather tremendous assaults from local activists and groups like the ACLU. They championed parental rights in the middle of numerous controversies.

The two biggest stories that gave me and my listeners the most satisfaction due to our involvement were the impeachment of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner and the removal of the box that was covering the Columbus Statue in Marconi Park in South Philly. One listener said we got Columbus out of the box and put Krasner in the penalty box.

I love sports and the Phillies surprise run through the playoffs and World Series was fun and dramatic. And the Eagles with the best record in the NFL conjures up thoughts of the championship of 2017. The Lia Thomas swimming drama at the University of Pennsylvania came a happy ending to me when Thomas was defeated at the NCAA swimming meet.

2022 was a year that had everything for our area. Sadly, Philadelphia passed 500 homicides again and set records for people shot and carjacked.

So, when I had Steve Keeley of Fox 29 on my show and I asked him about the story that jumped out at him, he came up with a big silver lining. Steve recounted the story of Buddy the Cat, who had been mauled by dogs turned on him by some kids in Philadelphia. Buddy was saved by great medical people and adopted by one of them. Thanks to Keeley, the inspiration of Buddy will be top of mind when I think of 2022.

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GRAHAM: The Story of the Midterms: The Cult vs. The Cause

“He who has a ‘why’ to live for can bear almost any ‘how,’” wrote philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and this midterm election suggests he was on to something.

Nietzche’s point was that people are willing to sacrifice material comforts and their personal well-being in service to a cause greater than themselves.

One of the most common cliches of pre-midterm punditry was, “This election will be about kitchen-table issues.” A close runner-up: “People vote their pocketbooks.” They are “how you live” issues. Paying the bills. Personal economic comfort. Cash in your pocket.

And the cliches were completely wrong. Yes, Republicans won a majority among voters who said the economy was terrible. But those voters were already more likely to be Republicans.

The problem is that, among those who described the economy as “not so good,” Democrats won by 24 points according to exit polls.

The same with the 1o percent of people in New Hampshire who “somewhat disapproved” of Biden. Typically, the party out of power would win those by 20 points. Instead, they went by about 10 points for Democrats.

And as Tom Bevan of Real Clear Politics noted, “The biggest stunner was independent voters, who went for the incumbent party by two points, 51-49, after four straight midterm cycles of breaking in favor of the out-party by double digits.”

Truly astonishing numbers, reflecting the fact most voters agreed Democrats are not getting the job done and a majority voted for them anyway.

Because they weren’t voting on the “how,” they were voting on the “why.” Their beliefs. Their cause.

When the final numbers are in, it is likely that voters under age 30 turned out in unusually high numbers, and that they dominated the same-day registrations. They didn’t show up to cast a vote on inflation policy or a rebuke of excessive government spending. These younger, more idealistic voters were motivated by the Democrats’ message to cast a vote to save America.

They voted to save women from a “Handmaid’s Tale” future, to defend our democratic system from MAGA “semi-fascism,” as President Joe Biden put it. They showed up not to save money on their energy bills but to save democracy itself.

They were voters with a cause and they overwhelmingly voted Democrat.

Other voters may roll their eyes and dismiss their alleged ‘cause’ as ridiculous. Overturning Roe sent the abortion issue back to the states, not Congress. And the record turnout is a rebuke to the “democracy in danger” charge. So, how did Democrats convince those voters that the fate of our republic was at stake?

The Democrats didn’t convince them. The Republicans did.

Despite their party winning a majority of the popular vote nationwide by around four percentage points, Republican candidates for U.S. Senate lost nearly every swing state. In other words, there were plenty of GOP votes to draw from. Governors like Brian Kemp (R-Ga.) and Chris Sununu (R-N.H.) won big victories while Senate candidates lost badly or were forced into runoffs.

It turned out that nominating Trump-backed candidates who wholeheartedly embrace ludicrous theories about stolen elections or have messy personal lives isn’t just embarrassing to Republicans. It also drives Democrats to the polls in droves.

Because many GOP primary voters insist on embracing the cult of Trump because they mandate candidates show fealty to him — and prove it by publicly embracing his most ludicrous claims — the party was represented by candidates like Pennsylvania’s Doug Mastriano and Arizona’s Blake Masters. Those candidates in turn drove up turnout among Democrats, guaranteeing their own doom.

In New Hampshire, the GOP’s fringe candidates also depressed GOP voting. While 97 percent of Granite State Democrats backed their party’s nominees, just 89 percent of Republicans did the same for their party’s picks. As a result, the state’s Republican governor won big, but so did all three Democrats running for re-election for federal offices.

Sununu has reduced the 2022 election results to a single sentence: “The voters want to fix policy, but they voted to fix ‘crazy’ first.”

The long-term challenge for Republicans, particularly in federal races, is that many parts of America are so affluent they can afford to vote on issues like abortion and election integrity and other abstract concepts, even when the economy is lousy. Voting their “why” doesn’t require much of a sacrifice from their “how.”

Nominating Trumpian Republicans and arguing that voters will accept their eccentricities in exchange for low taxes, more GDP growth, and “owning the libs” hasn’t worked since 2016. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) won a huge victory in a swing state, and he did it without Donald Trump.

Governors like DeSantis, DeWine, Kemp, and Sununu show there are plenty of Americans willing to vote Republican. The job of the GOP is to give them Republicans they can vote for.

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Making the Cut: More PA GOP Women Running for Office

For many years, Springfield resident Nichole Missino was a nonpolitical person who registered as an independent and only voted in presidential election years.

“I thought my vote didn’t matter,” she said.

The 2020 pandemic changed that.

Missino owns Giovanni’s Media Barber Shop, which she named for her son, now 13.

“In the beginning of the pandemic, we had to shut down,” Missino said. She wanted to access relief funding so that the people who worked at the barber shop, who are independent contractors, could pay their bills.

She asked state Rep. Jennifer O’Mara (D-Springfield) for help but got nowhere.

“The state did not open that portal until the end of April,” said Missino, so her workers had no income starting when the Wolf administration ordered her to shut down in March.

“There was no real help from my Democratic legislator,” she said.

“I felt I could do better than she does,” said Missino, now a Republican and running against O’Mara. “I just want to help people.”

Jessica Florio

Missino is one of many Republican women running for office in 2022. Some 45 percent of the Pennsylvania Republican state Senate candidates are women, and 30 percent of the GOP House candidates are women.

“The state legislative candidates nominated by Pennsylvania Republicans are a true testament to the Republican Party’s commitment to electing more women leaders to public office who reflect their respected communities,” said RSLC Deputy Communications Director Mason DiPalma. “These candidates will act as a strong line of defense against Joe Biden’s destructive agenda. The only way to defend and expand our majorities is to elect diverse candidates like these so we can get our country back on track. We are excited and confident that these candidates will be successful in pushing back against Pennsylvania Democrats in Harrisburg.”

Jessica Florio is running for the state Senate, challenging Sen. Katie Muth (D-Berks/Chester/Montgomery).

“As a special education teacher, Honey Brook Borough Council president, volunteer, and leader in my community, I have seen the good that can be accomplished when we work together and put aside the political differences that separate us,” said Florio. “I decided to run for state Senate because too many people in Harrisburg, including my opponent, choose politics over doing what is right for their constituents. It is partisan and divisive when she should be finding common ground.

“Currently, the residents of the 44th District are facing the very same issues that have deeply concerned persons throughout the country: wallet-crushing inflation, a stagnating economy, rising crime, and an education system that could, and should, be doing more for our children.

“I believe in the promise of America, and I believe Pennsylvania is a great state in which to live, work and raise a family,” said Florio. “The solutions to these issues won’t be found in partisan bickering but will be found through a leader who carefully listens to and works with those on both sides of the aisle to develop solutions that address the problems we all face.

“As state Senator, I will prioritize the needs of families, small businesses, and workers trying to make ends meet and will support legislation that will improve the lives of all Pennsylvanians,” she said.

Rep. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Harleysville) is another woman with her eye on a state Senate seat. Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Bucks/Berks/Montgomery) is retiring and endorsed Pennycuick.

Rep. Tracy Pennycuick

She said that she loves being in the legislature and serving her constituents. An Army combat veteran, she initially enlisted as a medic. Pennycuick earned a degree in business and a commission in the U.S. Army. She served as a Blackhawk pilot, including three combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Desert Storm, where she was awarded the bronze star.

Pennycuick retired as a lieutenant colonel after 26 years of service. She was a platoon leader, operations officer, company commander, aviation group safety officer, brigade human resources officer, executive officer, Department of Defense efficiency expert, and foreign liaison to the UK Ministry of Defence.

Pennycuick and her husband, Rick, who also served in the armed forces, settled in Harleysville when he was in command of the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) Philadelphia. The couple has four grown children, three serving in the military, and two grandchildren.

In the House, she has focused on education, as well as “providing our frontline heroes, families, seniors, workers, and small businesses with the support they need through the pandemic while also pushing forward important legislation that protects some of our most vulnerable populations and vital government reform.”

Missino is also a fighter.

In early May, she was going to reopen her barber shop but received threats from the police and state. So she held a rally outside it to call on the state to allow small businesses to reopen.

She put up Plexiglas dividers, stocked up on personal protective equipment (PPE), and decided to reopen her shop on May 20. The Media police chief told her he would pull her occupancy permit. She did anyway, and when a state inspector came to check out Giovanni’s, he found that she had gone over and above the state rules.

“I’ve never been on unemployment,” she said. “I’ve always been a worker.”

Missino was also active in the school district, attending board meetings to oppose requiring students to wear masks. She spoke at school board meetings and ran for the school board in Springfield as a write-in candidate.

“I’ve gotten help from the Republican Party,” she said about her run for state representative.

DiPalma said, “The diverse slate of state legislative candidates nominated by Republicans in Pennsylvania embodies the mission of the RSLC’s Right Leaders Network. Through the RSLC’s Right Women Right Now and Future Majority Project initiatives, the committee over the past decade has recruited, trained, supported, and elected thousands of diverse state Republicans across the country, many of whom went on to serve in statewide and federal offices.”

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Bucks County Races Shaping Up

Joe Hogan is in his last year at Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law, and he says there is no better time to run for the Pennsylvania House. He is a Republican candidate for the 142nd Legislative District seat being vacated by GOP state Rep. Frank Farry, who is running for state Senate.

“These opportunities don’t come all that often,” said Hogan, who turned 34 last month.

Farry, first elected to the district in 2008, is running to replace retiring state Sen. Tommy Tomlinson (R-Bensalem).

And so, after years of working for the late Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) and as a program director at Bucks County’s redevelopment authority, Hogan hopes to enter public service, representing the Langhorne-area district of about 65,000 constituents.

“Frank Farry has done an excellent job being present. He’s out in the community. Everyone knows who he is,” Hogan said. “You gotta show up, and you gotta be responsive to your constituents. If I can make their lives a little bit easier dealing with state government, then I’ll be a happy camper.”

Hogan grew up in Levittown and attended Conwell-Egan Catholic High School. He lives with wife Janita in Langhorne. He expects to be challenged for the seat by Penndel Borough Councilman Mark Maffa, a Democrat who lost both mayoral and council races last year.

Hogan has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Penn State University and spent most of his career in community and economic development. In 2010, he lost a primary race for a seat in the 141st House District to Kevin Glasson.

At the Redevelopment Authority of Bucks County, he learned how to navigate the “legal gray area” of a blight-reduction project in Bristol Township that led to the restoration of “hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes” to the municipal rolls from former nuisance properties. And the authority helped pump millions to municipalities in Parx Casino impact grants through a program Tomlinson helped create that pays for brick-and-mortar projects, like upgrades to aging municipal infrastructure and the purchase of fire trucks and police tasers.

Joe Hogan

Hogan spent time helping Ukrainian refugees who escaped to Poland amid President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a global crisis that helped gas prices soar to record highs.

Americans are feeling the pinch, as fuel and food are more expensive because of the “supply-chain crisis,” Hogan said.

“I’m seeing firsthand what absent American leadership can do to the world’s stage, how it can impact human lives,” he said.

A lifelong Republican with an independent streak, Hogan does not “agree with towing the party line on every issue,” but strives for steady, consistent leadership.

“People out there are more interested in getting more Twitter followers or getting on the talk shows than they are governing,” Hogan said. “They’re not paying us to be showmen that are just going to get more impressions on social media.”

Sixth District Senate Race

Running for office was not on Ann Marie Mitchell’s “to-do list,” but she is doing it anyway.

The married mother of two and onetime state representative candidate comes from a working-class family and was the first person in her family to graduate from college.

The longtime Northampton Township resident is running against Farry for the Sixth District seat because a divided Harrisburg needs healing and compromise, a skill she’s crafted over decades as a business attorney.

“I see a need in the community that isn’t answered. You have to be prepared to do the work yourself,” the Democrat said. “I think that it’s easy for people to run when the wind is at their back and everything is in their favor. The measure of a person is to do the work when the work’s needed and not when it’s easy.”

Nothing has come easy for Mitchell, who endured a turbulent upbringing to make the most of her opportunities.

Her father, a World War II survivor, came to America as a teenager, became an electrician, and ran his own business. Her mother was a teacher who also worked as a bookkeeper to help the family make it financially.

Growing up, Mitchell experienced domestic violence in her household and “knows firsthand the impact” of generational trauma.

“It informs who you are, and overcoming it depends on how you’re hardwired,” she said. “Some people can become very empathic, and some people can come out very hardened. You see people who are very resilient come out of horrible situations.”

Mitchell’s mother instilled in her the desire for community service, as she started out as a Girl Scout and Candy Striper. Education was also paramount in her family.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Her mother went back and graduated from college at 50, around the same time Mitchell received her juris doctorate degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

“It opens up a whole different world,” Mitchell said of her experiences, which inform her platform revolving around creating clean energy, advocating for increased mental health awareness and support, and increasing access to affordable healthcare.

The latter was her focus when running against state Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Richboro).

“I am nothing but real,” Mitchell said. “I am more about collaboration, cooperation, and finding the commonalities for jumping off. People can reach consensus, and you sometimes have to lean into difficult conversations.”


DVJ Presents: A US Senate Debate By DelVal Candidates, for DelVal Voters!

Mark your calendars: The Delaware Valley Journal will host a debate for the U.S. Senate candidates from the Delaware Valley from 7 to 8 p.m. tonight March 29.

Four candidates who call the Delaware Valley their home have accepted our invitation to discuss issues of particular interest to Republican primary voters in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties: Kathy Barnette, Jeff Bartos, George Bochetto and Sean Gale.

Managing Editor Michael Graham, News Editor Linda Stein and conservative writer Christine Flowers will moderate the debate.

If you have a question about life in the Delaware Valley you’d like these candidates to answer, please send it to [email protected].

While the debate is not open to the general public, it will be broadcast and live-streamed by PCN. There will be a live link here at Please tune in!

13 GOP Candidates Pack Stage in First Gubernatorial Debate

Twelve Republican men and one woman, vying to be their party’s nominee for governor, debated on a crowded stage at Dickinson College in Carlisle Wednesday evening. And as big as the debate field was, at least two other candidates didn’t attend.

It was the first chance for the baker’s dozen to make the case for their candidacy to Republican voters. Former Congressman Lou Barletta, who is leading in the polls, was a no-show. State Sen. Doug Mastriano of Franklin County is expected to formally enter the race Saturday.

The mostly collegial affair showed the contenders agree on many big issues, such as reducing taxes and regulations; embracing the state’s fossil fuel industry as a way to bring good jobs and prosperity to the state; and improving education and school choice. The exception was criticism of the two sitting lawmakers for their votes for Act 77, which allowed mail-in ballots.

When asked about people leaving the state for opportunities elsewhere, West Chester native Bill McSwain, the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney for southeastern Pennsylvania, played to his strong suit: law and order.

“We can’t be competitive without public safety,” said McSwain. “Because businesses simply aren’t going to invest in high crime areas…While I was U.S. Attorney I protected the community and its businesses by putting rioters and looters and arsonists in jail two summers ago when they tried to destroy Philadelphia…I am the only candidate in this race with law enforcement experience.”

McSwain also burnished his outsider credentials.

Guy Ciarrocchi

“We are never going to have change in Pennsylvania if we have a career politician as governor,” said McSwain. “And there are a number of career politicians on this state tonight. Instead, we need an outsider. Somebody who owes nothing to the Harrisburg swamp. That is who I am. I’ve run for office before. I’m a conservative outsider. I’ve lived a life of public service as a Marine and a prosecutor. I know how to get things done…The bigger our government, the less money people have to put in their pocket.”

Former Congresswoman Melissa Hart entered the race just days before the debate. She said the state has lost people, lost congressional seats, and lost clout in Washington, D.C.

“We have a bureaucracy that cares more about their sustenance than the people of Pennsylvania’s sustenance,” said Hart, of Bradford Woods. A lawyer, she promised to work with the legislature to change that and noted she has experience in both state and federal government.

Hart also agreed the state should use its natural gas, saying its production has helped the state’s farmers.

“Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel,” she said.

Hart promised to build coalitions to get things done, saying she was elected three times to the state Senate from a district with more Democrats, as well as to Congress, with Democratic voters’ support.

“What’s important is what their real concerns are,” she said. “Education is one.”

Later in the debate, Hart mentioned women have been the slowest to return to work from pandemic shutdowns because of school closures and uncertainty.

“We need to get teachers back in the classrooms,” she said, and “prevent our children from being used as pawns.”

She called for “responsive government” and “sensible laws.”

Guy Ciarrrocchi, a Chester County resident who grew up in South Philadelphia and is on leave from his job as president and CEO of the Chester Chamber of Business and Industry, summed up the state’s current situation.

“It’s as if Harrisburg has wanted us to fail,” he said. “We have more assets than any other state, from agriculture to life sciences. We’re sitting on more energy than most nations…There is no reason we’re not a top 10 state. We should never be a bottom 10 state…We should have a simple rule: if a bill creates jobs we’re for it. If kills jobs, we kill the bill.”

Pennsylvania is “sitting on more energy than most nations on the planet,” said Ciarrocchi. “We’re duty-bound to do it. We need to get it out of the ground and into our homes and schools, not just to attract businesses but to keep the businesses we do have.”

Ciarrocchi was part of a coalition of business people, parents, and residents who fought for the Vote Yes campaign in the 2021 primary to get ballot initiatives passed.

Charlie Gerow and Dave White

“We need school choice. I am a Chamber CEO who is passionate about education. We need to reform education,” Ciarrocchi said. “Education is the most important issue. Thousands of children are waiting on lists to go to charter schools and thousands of others are stuck in failing public schools.

“We need to bring about a coalition to bring about school choice. We need to rescue those kids and empower their parents,” he said.

Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale blamed Gov. Tom Wolf and the Republican-majority legislature for the state’s population drain. He claimed to be the only candidate who can beat “radical liberal, Josh Shapiro,” the presumed Democratic candidate.

Gale agreed the state should use its energy resources and said tax money generated from fracking should stay in the regions where the gas is extracted and not go to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.

Gale said he is for voter identification and election reform, as well as school choice. “In my opinion, anyone that voted for the devastating Act 77 legislation should be disqualified from holding office, let alone being promoted to higher office,” said Gale. “We have to fix (the election system) and I’ll get it done.”

“I will be a pit bull in Harrisburg and hold the Republicans accountable to get the job done,” he added.

Retired business executive and author John Ventre joined in the criticism of Act 77, which was supported by two other Republicans in the race, state senators Jake Corman and Scott Martin.

Ventre criticized the politicians “who voted for Act 77 that cost the best president in my lifetime to lose Pennsylvania. There are three types of candidates: You have your politician who wants to advance himself and is an insider. You have your Romney RINO, who wants to negotiate with the left…The person that’s going to win this election is going to be a Tea Party Patriot.”

Ventre also blamed the state’s treatment of businesses for the population loss. “I want to hear a sucking sound from the northeast as jobs come to us,” the Hempfield resident said. “I want to make Pennsylvania the Texas of the northeast.”

Delaware County resident Dave White, a small business owner, and former county councilman said the state not only needs lower taxes and reduced regulation but also to shorten the time needed to get permits.

White agreed the state has a wealth of natural gas “under our feet” that should be utilized. As a former pipefitter who is now a business owner, he backs pipeline construction “as the safest way to have this product transported.”

“I will make sure we are the energy capital of the United States,” White said, noting that pipeline jobs pay $80,000, $90,000 or more.

“If you want to get things done, send somebody who is a results-oriented businessman to get things done,” said White.  “In (the legislature) they are spending other people’s money. They need to start acting like their own money.”  White promised to review regulations and departments and get rid of those that are not needed.

Charlie Gerow, a Republican strategist based in Harrisburg, said that he is the one who can get things done.

“Economic competitiveness” will keep young people in Pennsylvania, he said. Gerow favors lower taxes and sensible regulation, along with “cleaning up public corruption because job creators are not coming to Pennsylvania with their opportunities if they believe they have to pay to play.”

Regarding Wolf’s handling of the pandemic, Gerow said he would model the policies of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem that put individual freedom first, rather than the “disastrous policies of Tom Wolf.”

He would also propose a ballot measure to allow the voters to “remove any governor who thinks he’s a king.”

Dr. Nche Zama, a cardiothoracic surgeon from the Poconos, said Pennsylvania’s business tax policies are “suffocating businesses,” he said.  And the state which spends “billions on education was the largest exporter of graduates. We need to embrace those graduates so they stay here.”

Zama also supports using fossil fuels, saying, “Windmills, as we know them, are not ready to run our massive industries in Pennsylvania…” European countries have recently “ratcheted up their use of coal and gas.”

As a leader in the health care industry, “I know how to bring people together. I’ve done it in healthcare. A leader is somebody who absorbs uncertainty and somebody who inspires.”

“Pennsylvania needs a leader who is a compassionate critical thinker,” said Zama. “And I can be that person.”

Jason Richey, said the Pittsburgh area has seen “dramatic losses of population over the last 50 years.” The father of three sons, he said, “I want to keep those boys here.” He proposed a plan for zero percent income tax and shrinking the cost of government.

An energy and construction lawyer, Richey said he is an expert and the state sits on “an ocean of natural gas.”

His energy plan would create 50,000 new jobs, he said, and “get the whole commonwealth working together.” That would improve the environment and improve national security, he noted. He would also get rid of Act 77 and the 50 days of mail-in ballots.

Former Corry mayor Jason Monn, who owns a restaurant, said he has kept his employees working throughout the pandemic but there are “a lot of businesses that don’t love Pennsylvania because of our taxes, because of our regulations.”

“I am a firm believer it’s the government’s job to facilitate progress, not to dictate how to do it,” said Monn.

“As a business owner, I have a lot of what politicians don’t have, that’s common sense,” said Monn. “We need to learn to take safe risks. We can do things the proper way and not be ridiculous about them.” When pipeline workers have money they can then come to places like mine. It’s a trickle-down effect.”

During the pandemic, Monn and his wife came up with a plan to give free meals to kids. With the help of others, they distributed 31,000 meals in three months.

State Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) noted the state’s “fastest-growing age demographic is 85 and above.” States like Florida and the Carolinas have “pro-growth policies” while “we have one of the most onerous regulatory and tax climates in the country.”

On the energy industry, Martin opposes Wolf’s plan to impose a “half-billion-dollar carbon tax” on the state and raise gas prices by 18 percent.

“The moment Pennsylvania decides to embrace and grow this industry, the better off we’ll be,” he said.

The state needs “courage and a bold agenda.” Martin was warned not to eliminate government agencies because he would not be elected again but he did and was reelected. The state teachers union has run ads against him, as well. If elected governor, he plans to work with the general assembly to devise a “pro-growth, pro-family” agenda.

Sen. Jake Corman

State Sen. Jake Corman (R-Centre) has three children who will soon make decisions about what to do with their lives and where to live.  He hopes to keep them in Pennsylvania.  But “this governor has used our tax money as a way to punish employers. I am going to use our tax code as a way to inspire growth.”

Regarding the pandemic, Corman said he worked with others in the legislature to rein in Wolf’s powers through ballot questions that voters approved, and he filed and won a case unanimously in the state Supreme Court against the Wolf administration over the ability of the state to impose mask mandates.

“Tom Wolf’s scorched earth is not the way to govern,” said Corman.

Asked about building a coalition, Corman said he is “there to get things done” and he would be a governor who can work with the legislature.

Another business owner, Shawn Berger said the state’s unemployment program is a problem.

“Get people back to work and cut unemployment,” said Berger, a Lehigh Valley businessman who owns two enterprises.

During the pandemic shutdowns “I had employees come to me in tears. I said, ‘We’re going to stay open. We’re going to make this work.” He fought the Wolf administration and kept his business open, he said.

And as a business owner, Berger said, he knows how to stay within his budget and not “overspend.”  Berger also favors the decriminalization of marijuana.


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ROSICA: Will Parents Tip the Elections in 2022?

One day after winning the gubernatorial race in Virginia, Glenn Youngkin stated “We’re going to embrace our parents, not ignore them.”  Youngkin understood that angry and frustrated parents were essential to his successful bid to become governor.

All over the country, parents are dissatisfied with their local schools and school boards and concerned about their children’s future.  Extended school closures, hybrid classrooms, and overly conservative quarantine policies have harmed students academically, emotionally, and behaviorally.  Transitioning back and forth between remote, hybrid, and in-person creates continued stress for both parents and students, particularly the neediest children.

In Pennsylvania, Back to School PA PAC helped to mobilize and organize these distraught parents to recruit, train, and support potential school board candidates who put the students first. Supporting school board races in 17 diverse counties and well over 200 bi-partisan candidates, Back to School PA achieved a 60 percent success rate in its first endeavor. However, Back to School PA believes that 2021 was just the beginning for parent involvement in school board races and politics in general.

With no school board races in 2022 in Pennsylvania, these same advocates who formed Political Action Committees (PAC) to support school board candidates are trying to determine how they can influence and/or support other key races across the state. Parents have been activated, and most are now committed to remaining engaged in local and state government.

More parents may come out to vote in Pennsylvania in 2022 than any other election in recent history. Regardless of political affiliation, parents are exhausted and concerned about the future for their children and for the commonwealth.  If schools do not stay open reliably, it is difficult for parents to work.  Mothers bore the brunt of the school closures, as 33 percent of women left the workforce to support their children during virtual school. Single mothers and low-income families suffered the most during school closures. Domestic violence and child abuse increased. Pediatric hospitals are being overrun with mental health concerns, and suicide attempts have increased exponentially. More children are being hospitalized for eating disorders and depression.  Parents have watched their children falling apart literally before their eyes.

Parents have spent almost two years witnessing how local government works and how it failed our children. Many parents participated in their local school board meetings for the first time.  These parents would spend hours preparing their statement, and then they were dismissed as being selfish for wanting their children in school. In some districts, parent comments were actually censored or not included during virtual meetings. For the most part, parents have not been welcome at school board meetings and many have felt disrespected, while some have been escorted out of meetings by police.  Parents want transparency about what is happening in the classroom, and they want to be engaged and respected, not dismissed or labeled domestic terrorists.

The National School Boards Association labeled upset parents as “domestic terrorists” who should be considered dangerous and treated as such.  Instead of encouraging and modeling civil discourse, local, state and national government leaders have repeatedly shown that differing opinions and simply asking questions are not welcome.

These issues are likely to bring out more parents to vote in 2022. Parents want candidates who are not beholden to special interest groups, like the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA). They want candidates who will place the importance of children and their future first. Most parents want a balanced approach to government, diversity of thought, and transparency around decision-making.  Every parent wants to be respected as the person who knows what is best for their child.

Respect of parental rights may be the single biggest issue for the 2022 elections.  Parents have never felt as demoralized and hopeless as they have over the last 22 months.  Watching their children struggle academically, emotionally, and behaviorally and feeling helpless to support them has changed the game for many parents.  And those parents who were also forced out of the workforce or had to choose between work and supporting their children during virtual learning, will not soon forget the impact of these draconian measures on their children.

2022 may be the year when parents reclaim their rights at the polls.

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