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Judge: Court Blew It When It Killed Ballot Recounts in Chester County

In a sharp rebuke to a lower court and the Chester County Board of Elections, Commonwealth Court Judge Christine Fizzano Cannon on Friday overrode its refusal to recount ballots as requested by petitioners after the November 2022 election.

“The Trial Court did not schedule a date and time for the opening of the ballot boxes as required. Instead, the Trial Court entered an order scheduling a ‘hearing,'” Judge Cannon wrote.

Instead of following the recount statute, Judge Jeffrey Sommer scheduled a hearing on the petitions and invited the Chester County Board of Elections–comprised of the County Commissioners–to respond to the recount petitions. Rather than moving forward with the recount, the Democratic-controlled Board of Elections objected and instead declared the election certified.

But as Cannon ruled, “Our Supreme Court has explained that boards of elections improperly certify election results while timely and properly [sic] petitions to open the ballot boxes are pending.”

That was the case Chester County Republican Commissioner Michelle Kichline made at the time. As an attorney, she said she reviewed the law governing elections before voting against certification while her two Democratic colleagues voted to certify it.

“Once those petitions are filed by voters, it stops the process,” said Kichline. [Democrat] Chester County Commissioners Josh Maxwell and Marian Moskowitz filed a brief in the statewide appeals court, repeating their arguments and continuing to fight to prevent recounts that would verify the accuracy of reported election results. At the same time, the Pennsylvania Department of State and Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth,  Al Schmidt, filed an uninvited brief also arguing that the petitioners should be required to allege a particular act of fraud or file petitions in every precinct in Pennsylvania.

When Sommer was considering the petitions for recounts, he demanded the petitioners produce some evidence of fraud in the election. Again, Judge Cannon wrote, he erred. The recount statute states that “[i]t shall not be necessary for the petitioners to specify in their petition the particular act of fraud or error which they believe were committed, nor to offer evidence to substantiate the allegations of their petition.”

After the hearing, Sommer rejected the voters’ petitions “with prejudice,” meaning they could not be filed again.

As for “prejudice,” that was what the petitioners said they encountered in Sommer’s courtroom. When presented with polling results that showed that 52 percent of American voters believe the 2020 election was fraudulent, Sommer said, “Well, they’re wrong. We know that. We know factually, even Republicans know that factually. . . Well, you may not, and the QAnon people may not, but people know.”

Ada Nestor, a voting rights activist who helped organize the petitions, noted that the voters do not need to allege fraud under the law. There must only be three voters from a precinct.

“It was disappointing to see the law misunderstood by Judge Sommer and by Democrats Moskowitz and Maxwell,” said Nestor, “as well at the Republican secretary of state, who also filed his brief with the Commonwealth Court.” Moskowitz and Maxwell are running for re-election.

She expects ballot boxes in the precincts under appeal will be opened and a recount conducted, which will either find the results are correct or are “unreconcilable.”

Kichline made the point the process was violated, and that was the key issue in the dispute, not the petitioners’ views on ballot security. She noted there were also petition challenges in neighboring Berks County which did follow the law and refrained from certifying its election. Eventually, a judge denied those petitions.

“I think it’s our obligation as a Board of Elections to follow the law,” said Kichline.  “We couldn’t certify the election until after the judge had a hearing and made a ruling,” she said. And Judge Sommer would not hear the case until the following week. “It was very, very clear to me that we couldn’t certify the election ahead of Judge Sommer having his hearing. I’m pleased to see that the Commonwealth Court reviewed this. There is very clear law and very clear procedure.”

Joseph DiGuglielmo, the lawyer for the voters, said, “I would hope that those politicians who have a duty to administer elections would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate transparency, integrity, security, fairness, and honesty in our elections. But they are doing just the opposite. The Pennsylvania Department of State and the county commissioners (who also sit on the county boards of elections) for 26 counties where recount petitions were filed, have fought against the voters of Pennsylvania and objected to the exercise of their rights under the election code.

“The key takeaway from the Commonwealth Court’s decision, which agreed with the petitioner’s interpretation of the recount statute, is that the Pennsylvania Department of State and county commissioners around the commonwealth cannot intentionally misinterpret the Election Code to shield their administration of elections from public scrutiny, he added. “The Commonwealth Court ordered the Chester County Court of Common Pleas to commence the recounts, which will likely start and finish within one day.”

“The Commonwealth Court ruling about petitions for recount is disappointing, especially in light of the Berks County decision.  The Chester County Board of Elections is reviewing the court’s decision before considering the next step,” said Rebecca Brain, a spokeswoman for Chester County.

Kichline disagreed.

“I think it’s our obligation as a Board of Elections to follow the law,” said Kichline.  “We couldn’t certify the election until after the judge had a hearing and made a ruling,” she said. And Judge Sommer would not hear the case until the following week. “It was very, very clear to me that we couldn’t certify the election ahead of Judge Sommer having his hearing. I’m pleased to see that the Commonwealth Court reviewed this. There is very clear law and very clear procedure.”


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Chester County Commissioners Appoint New Solicitor

From a press release

The Chester County Commissioners approved this week the appointment of Colleen Frens as Solicitor for the County of Chester. Frens, the former deputy county solicitor, has served as acting solicitor since July 2022, following the appointment of former solicitor, Nicole Forzato, to the bench of the Chester County Court of Common Pleas.

“Colleen is an excellent lawyer who will serve the County well in handling our legal matters,”said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz. “We are fortunate to have someone who is not only personable, but who understands how County government operates, aswell as the mission, purpose and responsibilities of all our departments.”

As solicitor for Chester County, Frens will provide legal counsel and opinions relative to county government operational and administrative matters, and will oversee the county’s team of lawyers.

Commissioner Josh Maxwell said, “The county solicitor position requires someone who knowshow to navigate the legal world and the business and government worlds. Colleen’s resume dovetails perfectly with those needs, which makes me confident that she is the right person for this critical job.”

Frens joined the county as assistant county solicitor in April 2021 and was named deputy county solicitor in July 2022. Prior to that, she worked as a Chester County public defender, and as an associate for Lamb McErlane PC. Frens also gained legal experience in the Office of the Solicitor for the U.S. Department of Labor. She is a graduate of Temple University Beasley School of Law and has coached Temple’s School of Law National Trial Team.

Commissioner Michelle Kichline noted, “As a fellow graduate of Temple’s Beasley School of Law, I couldn’t be more pleased that Colleen is Chester County’s new county solicitor. She has extensive credentials essential to being the top legal counsel for the county. The county is in good hands under her legal stewardship.”

Frens lives in West Chester with her family. She enjoys cooking, hiking, and photography.

Curt Norcini Announces Candidacy for Court of Common Pleas

From a press release

Curt Norcini announced that he is running for judge on the Court of Common Pleas bench in Chester County.

A graduate of West Chester University and the Widener University School of Law and currently a partner with the Omnis Law Group, LLC in West Chester, Norcini has served the citizens of Chester County for 25 years.

Norcini has served the public as an Assistant Public Defender in Delaware County and as solicitor with the Chester County Register of Wills. He also serves as Conflict Criminal Counsel to the Court of Common Pleas in Chester County, contributing in various capacities over the last 22 years. In his nearly 30-year career, he has touched upon most areas of the law, although his current emphasis has been on criminal defense.

Norcini, who is running in the Republican primary, has appeared hundreds of times before countless judges and across multiple jurisdictions. Norcini has a long and varied history of public service in Chester County. He’s served on the boards of the Chester County Bar Association, the County Bar Foundation, and its various subcommittees. He’s been an active member of the West Chester University Alumni Association, acting in 2008 as its president.

“I am proud to officially announce my candidacy for The Court of Common Pleas, and I am excited to begin this journey. I am passionate about public service, and I believe I can bring a unique perspective and integrity to the bench,” Norcini said

Norcini is also a self-defense instructor and has organized and instructed women’s self-defense training at numerous free Women’s Defense Clinics around the area. In addition, he has had the honor and privilege of training with local law enforcement and the military.

Norcini was born and raised in Delaware County by his parents – Janet and Charlie – along with his two younger brothers, David and Danny. The family moved to Chester County nearly 40 years ago. Curt and his wife, Cindy, live in West Goshen with their three dogs – Benson, Rosie, and Winston.

Mr. Norcini intends to bring his knowledge and life experience to the Chester County Court of Common Pleas. He will continue in the grand tradition of excellence that the Chester County judiciary enjoys if elected.

Chester Co. DA Deb Ryan Runs For Common Pleas Court Judge

From a press release

After dedicating her entire career to public service, Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan announced her candidacy for judge in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas.

“Serving as the Chester County District Attorney has been one of the greatest honors of my career. Since taking office, I have been dedicated to the mission of keeping our communities safe and doing everything in my power as DA to effectuate justice fairly. Now I look forward to the opportunity to serve the county as a fair and impartial jurist committed to the integrity of the courts, the protection of individual rights, and the due process of law,” Ryan said.

Ryan began her career as a prosecutor in 1998, working as an assistant district attorney in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. Since 2006, she has served as a prosecutor in the Chester County District Attorney’s Office (DAO), handling thousands of cases, including many high-profile matters, such as homicides, sexual assaults, child abuse, domestic violence, gun violence, high-level drug trafficking, and white-collar cases.

She was appointed Deputy District Attorney in charge of the Child Abuse Unit in 2013, overseeing all child sexual and physical abuse cases. She was awarded the Chester County Prosecutor of the Year in 2014 for her work with child abuse cases and her positive collaboration with law enforcement.

Ryan has also worked at several nonprofit agencies dedicated to protecting and advancing children, including serving as the county coordinator for the Safe and Healthy Communities Initiative at the Crime Victims’ Center. This was the first comprehensive, evidence-based program in Chester County committed to eradicating child sexual abuse through prevention and education programs for children and adults.

In 2019, Ryan made history in Chester County after being elected as the first woman and first Democrat to serve as District Attorney.

“As a result of working smart on crime, I am proud to report that crime in Chester County has decreased by over 10 percent in the past three years. My office has implemented necessary reforms that address critical changes in the criminal justice system, such as combatting the drug epidemic by helping those with substance use disorders while prosecuting the high-level drug traffickers who bring this poison into our community,” she said.

“Under my direction, the Chester County DA’s Office has expanded eligibility into our treatment courts; we have one of the country’s most robust mental health courts. My office has increased our efforts to investigate and prosecute the most serious offenders, like our child predators, murderers, gun traffickers, and others who hurt our county’s most vulnerable victims. Most importantly, as DA, I place victims first, treating them with the respect and dignity they deserve,” Ryan said.

Since taking office in January 2020, the DAO has successfully apprehended and prosecuted some of the most serious cases in the county’s history. Working in collaboration with over 50 law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, OAG, municipal police departments, the Pennsylvania state police, and others, the DOA has dismantled a human sex trafficking organization. These convicted defendants committed grisly murders of domestic partners and strangers and prosecuted child abusers at a rate unlike before.

Since taking office in 2020, the DAO has increased the number of prevention and education programming for law enforcement, students, and adults throughout the county focusing on child sexual abuse prevention, internet safety, substance use disorders, crime scene forensics, treatment courts, juvenile justice, school safety and security, and elder abuse. Ryan created the Chester County Law Enforcement Task Force on Race & Justice to improve relationships between communities of color and law enforcement.

The task force has engaged with hundreds of students and adults around the county through workshops, town halls, and symposiums to discuss our criminal justice system and ways to do better in the community. Working with Attorney General (now governor-elect) Josh Shapiro, Ryan implemented the Chester County Law Enforcement Treatment Initiative (LETI). LETI provides help to those with substance use disorders to get access to free treatment. The program’s goal is to help save lives, reduce recidivism, and destigmatize those suffering from substance use disorders.

The program has already aided dozens of people battling this epidemic through partnerships with law enforcement. Ryan has increased the accessibility of Youth Aid Panels in the county, allowing juvenile offenders second chances instead of earning a record that will hinder them for the rest of their lives. Among the many boards she serves, she is a member of the Criminal Justice Advisory Board, PA District Attorney’s Association, Liberty Mid-Atlantic HIDTA, Chester County Prison Board, Chester County Hero Fund, and the Chester County School Safety and Security Task Force. Ryan won the Guardian of Victims’ Rights Award in 2020 and was a Power Woman of the Main Line and West Suburbs recipient in 2021.

After graduating from Boston University, magna cum laude, in 1993, Ryan earned her law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1998. She has resided in Chester County for over 20 years, where she raised her two children.

“For most of my career, I have been in a courtroom, seeking justice for those most vulnerable. I have been collaborative with victims, law enforcement, judges, defense attorneys, school administrators, mental health agencies, nonprofits, drug and alcohol treatment providers, community residents, and others,” Ryan said. “If elected judge on the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, I will make reasoned decisions for just outcomes by demonstrating dignity and respect to all who appear before me. I will listen to all sides thoughtfully, comprehensively, and without bias. And I will continue to implement the democratic values of fairness and equal justice under the law.”

Chester County Commissioner Kichline Not Running for Another Term

With Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline not running for re-election, candidates are already announcing bids to replace her.

Kichline is about to enter the last year of her second elected term. She was appointed in 2014.

“I was pretty clear with party leadership; I’m one of those people who believe in term limits,” she told the Delaware Valley Journal. “By the end of next year, I’ll have served nine years. It’s a little bittersweet.”

While she is uncertain what her next step will be, she does not rule out running for another elected office in the future.

“I’m not sure what the next chapter will be,” said Kichline. “I’m sure it will include some sort of public service. At this point, I don’t have any plans.”

“I’m most proud of the work we’ve done in Chester County on the heroin and opioid addiction crisis,” Kichline said. “That’s something I’ve been working on since my first year as a commissioner. I went around talking to people and realized how this is affecting people. And it didn’t matter their income or education. It was really before people realized what a problem we have.”

Kichline began the Chester County Color 5K, an annual local race that raises funds benefiting victims of the opioid crisis. The money supports the C.O.P.E. Program, which provides one-to-one support for overdose survivors and their families. It is now available at all of Chester County’s hospitals. Dubbed a “warm hand-off program,” it also provides overdose prevention information and outreach to first responders, hospital staff, family members, and friends. Importantly, these funds provide expedited admission into detox facilities.

She has also been a champion of economic development in the county and also of preserving open space. The two go hand-in-hand, she said, since many people want to work and live where there is open land to enjoy.

“In Chester County, we’ve really advocated for businesses to stay open,” she said. “And post-pandemic we’re seeing more people doing remote work. And younger people wanting work-life balance.”

The open space program was started by Republicans 30 years ago, Kichline said. “And we are nationally recognized for preserving farmland and open space.”

“We don’t necessarily have the density and overdevelopment as some of our neighboring counties,” said Kichline.

Also, Chester County has maintained its AAA bond rating and started a program to lure more tech entrepreneurs and start-ups to set up shop there. Kichline has been part of the initiative known as Venture ChesCo, which works with Ben Franklin Partners. The program invests $4 million, half by Ben Franklin and half by Chester County, in new tech companies and those looking to apply new technologies to their existing business operations.

Running the county is like running a business, she said. There are 2,400 employees and a $60 million budget.

She announced her decision not to run again now so that others can campaign in 2023.

One candidate is Dave Sommers. He is a secondary educator in social studies with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He said he would reject harmful interference, mandates, restrictions, and closures for schools, businesses, and places of worship. He will work to preserve the historic character and natural beauty of Chester County. And reject wasteful spending and promote conservative fiscal policies. In addition, he promises transparency and will ensure election integrity.

Eric Roe, a former state representative who works in financial services, is also running for county commissioner.

Roe, who plans to kick off his campaign on the courthouse steps Dec. 3, hopes to “see Chester County become the most family-friendly, business-friendly county in the nation someday.” He wants to make it more affordable to live here” while also preserving Chester County’s landscapes and preventing overdevelopment.

Kichline has also fought for improved transportation, including the new train station in Paoli and another station coming to Coatesville.

Kichline grew up in Chester County after her parents came to the U.S. from Hungary. After graduating from Conestoga High School, she earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to study law at Temple University. After clerking for Judge Stanley R. Ott in Montgomery County, she worked at Wistler Pearlstine.

Before her appointment as county commissioner, she was on Tredyffrin Township’s Board of Supervisors from 2010 to 2013, serving as chair for the last two years. She also served on Tredyffrin Township’s Zoning Hearing Board and was its first female chair in 2007.

Kichline lives in Berwyn with her husband Michael. They have two children, a daughter, 24, and a 21-year-old son. Once she leaves office, she hopes to have more time to exercise and also take art classes.

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Chester County Named One of the Healthiest in U.S.

From a press release

Chester County has been recognized as one of the 500 healthiest counties in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in collaboration with CVS Health.  Chester County ranks number 92 overall, based on 10 categories that drive community health, and is a top county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  There are more than 3,000 counties and county equivalents across America.

This accolade follows news in April of Chester County’s number-one health ranking in Pennsylvania as determined by the University of Wisconsin and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Ranking report.

Commenting on the U.S. News & World Report national health ranking, Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz said, “This additional health recognition demonstrates that Chester County is a community ahead of the curve.

“The commitment of our Health Department leadership and staff, our healthcare providers, hospitals, clinics, social service-related non-profit organizations, and our environmental stewardship and recreational resources all add up.  They are partnerships that reap so many benefits for our residents, and I thank them all for their contributions,” said Commissioner Moskowitz.

Chester County also ranked in the Top 100 High Performing Urban Communities nationwide, scoring in the top 10 percent in the “Economy” category.

Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell noted, “We understand how important it is to review all the conditions that impact the well-being of our residents – from treatment and prevention of, and education on physical and mental health issues, to the impact of jobs, housing, schooling, transportation, and exercise.

“This ranking indicates that we’re doing many things right, and much of this is down to our community partners. We will continue to work with those partners to address the areas where we know we can improve,” added Commissioner Maxwell.

Healthiest Communities is an interactive platform developed by U.S. News & World Report, in collaboration with CVS Health. Accompanied by news, analysis and in-depth reporting, the platform features rankings drawn from an examination of nearly 3,000 counties and county equivalents on 89 health and health-related metrics in 10 categories. Population health and equity are the most highly weighted factors in the methodology, followed closely by education and economy. Data were gathered and analyzed by the University of Missouri Extension Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems (CARES).

Separate from the rankings, the site offers COVID-19 tracking tools that report case numbers, death rates, unemployment rates, vaccine data and more. These tools complement the rankings data to reveal multiple correlations between the coronavirus pandemic and community health.

“Chester County’s inclusion in this nationwide study is no coincidence,” said Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline.

“For years, we have focused on, and invested in the health and safety of our residents, taking into account physical, emotional, mental and environmental health needs.  We were one of the first counties in the Commonwealth to fund our own health department, which, especially over the past two years, has proved to be very valuable.”

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Future Firefighters Complete Final Exercises Toward Certification

From a press release

Nineteen students completing the latest Chester County Firefighter I Training Course conducted final firefighting exercises at the Chester County Public Safety Training Campus.  The exercises covered search and rescue, indoor firefighting, fire attack types, auto fires, dumpster fires, and stages of fires. All exercises represent the final steps needed to complete the 188-hour classroom and practical skills certification.

Chester County’s current Firefighter I class includes 17 men and two women, the majority of whom are college students who are adding the important first responder certification to their other qualifications.

Sophia Crossan, a West Grove resident who is a rising sophomore studying neuroscience at Villanova University, said, “I have been involved in emergency medical services and while I was hesitant to take the firefighting course, I absolutely love it.”

“There is so much that is covered, and as I really enjoy any type of STEM learning, the areas that really interest me are fire behaviors, the way fires work and studying the effects of different burning materials.  I really enjoy the first responder aspect of my life,” Crossan added. 

Oxford resident Eddy Chavez, who is a rising sophomore studying business management at Arizona State University, has been in the fire service with Oxford Union Fire Company for almost a year.  “With this course, I can take on more responsibilities in firefighting, including going into burning buildings and packing up,” he noted.

The need for firefighters across the state and the nation is at an all-time high. In Chester County, most firefighters are volunteers, which adds to the challenges of recruitment and retention of firefighters.

Matt Fink, Chester County Department of Emergency Services Fire Training Officer and leader of the Firefighter I course said, “As with many other organizations that rely on – and are looking for – volunteers, we struggle to replace those firefighters who are retiring out of service.  But students like those on this course learn so much more than the necessary academic and practical firefighting skills.  They experience the benefits of becoming teammates, working together, trusting each other, and backing up each other, which are all valuable life lessons.

“The Firefighter I training course is available year-round, and we certainly encourage others – especially students – to find out more about the certification.  It is one of the best ways to give back to your community,” added Fink.

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Guy Ciarrocchi Wins Republican Nomination in 6th Congressional District

Guy Ciarrocchi won a four-way race for the Republican nomination in the 6th Congressional District. He will face incumbent Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks) in the fall.

He was on the field Thursday afternoon coaching girls’ softball when he heard the news that the AP had called the race for him.

“I didn’t plan to run,” said Ciarrocchi. “I didn’t plan to run for office. The last two years caused me to run, drew me to run. And this election is about the contrast to, as Ronald Reagan once said, ‘Are you better off now than four years ago.’

“The question for everybody in the 6th District, are you better off now than two years ago? Or when Chrissy Houlahan took office,” he said.

“If you like $5 dollar gas, she’s your candidate. If you like lockdowns and mandates, she’s your candidate. If you like open borders, she’s your candidate. If you like defunding the police, she’s your candidate. If on the other hand, you’re like most of my neighbors, those things are bad and those ideas have led us to be less secure then I’m offering you an opportunity to bring back common sense,”  Ciarrocchi said.

On Zoom calls with the members of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry, where Ciarrocchi was president and CEO, he heard his members cry during the pandemic shutdowns “because they were losing their bed and breakfasts and their comic book stores and their restaurants,” he said. “And the parents, whose kids were locked out of school and the kids, who needed not only the schooling but additional instruction and couldn’t get it. That’s who was really sad and really crying and those are the people who moved me to run.”

“And I have to tell their stories,” said Ciarrocchi. “The girls who were then 10 and now 12 who I now coach were locked out of school and not allowed on softball fields and the swing sets at the neighborhood playground were wrapped in police tape.

“And you didn’t need a Ph.D. to know what we were doing to our kids was wrong,” said Ciarrocchi. “And you didn’t need an M.B.A. from Wharton to know what we were doing to our small businesses was wrong. And (Houlahan) voted for it and stood by and let it happen.”

He went on to say Houlahan should have been moved “to this very day to stand up and say she’s sorry and what she did was wrong and she’ll fight to change it. To this very day, she’s supporting open borders. To this very day, she’s supporting keeping American energy in the ground. To this very day, she’s causing inflation.

“She would have caused more inflation, because she voted for that wasteful Build Back Better,” said Ciarrocchi. “And if it wasn’t for (Sen.) Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) we’d be another trillion dollars in debt.”

Asked to respond, Houlahan said, “Serving the good people of Chester and Berks counties is the honor of my lifetime and service I intend to continue. As an Air Force veteran, entrepreneur, teacher, and mother, I continue to meaningfully connect with and advocate for all people across our district. Our community trusts that working to rebuild the local economy, drive down the costs of everyday purchases, and ensure that our kids receive a world-class education, and to do so in a bipartisan and respectful manner, will continue to be my focus. I very much look forward to continuing to engage with every corner of our community, earn the voters’ support again, and drive solutions that tangibly improve their lives.”

A South Philadelphia native, Ciarrocchi is well known in Pennsylvania political circles for his work behind the scenes. He played a key role, for example, in the successful push earlier this year to pass ballot questions limiting the governor’s emergency powers.

Ciarrocchi, who holds degrees from St. Joseph’s University and Villanova Law, worked as a deputy attorney general. in private law practice, and was chief of staff for state Sen. Melissa Hart, U.S. Representative Jim Gerlach, and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley. He also was executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, regional director for the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign, and regional director for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Ciarrocchi lives in Paoli with his wife, Chris. They have three grown children, Alex, Louis, and Anna.

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Republican Race For Congress in Chester County Remains Undecided

While the U.S. Senate race is still too close to call and most of the primary battles across the Delaware Valley were settled Tuesday night, the GOP race in the Sixth Congressional District remains undecided.

Former Chester County Chamber of Commerce CEO Guy Ciarrocchi appears to have won the chance to take on incumbent U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan in the Chester/Berks district. But he hadn’t declared victory as of Wednesday afternoon. Two of his opponents, Regina Mauro and Ron Vogel, have already conceded his victory.

According to the Secretary of State’s website, Chiarrocchi had 23,116 votes, Steve Fanelli has 20,890, Vogel was at 15,396 votes and Maura had 10,336.

In Bucks County, Alex Entin lost his race to incumbent Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks/Montgomery). Fitzpatrick will face Democrat Ashley Ehasz in November.

In Montgomery County for the 4th Congressional District, GOP business executive Christian Nascimento defeated small business owner Daniel Burton Jr. Nascimento will try to unseat Democrat incumbent Democrat Rep. Madeleine Dean in the fall.

And in Delaware County, Republican David Galluch ran unopposed to challenge incumbent Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon.

In the statewide race for lieutenant governor, state Rep. Carrie DelRosso, beat nine others to become the Republican candidate for that office.

“I am honored that Pennsylvania Republicans have nominated me to carry the banner of common-sense conservatism in this year’s election,” said DelRosso. “I’m deeply grateful to my supporters and I have grown a deep respect for the others who added so much to the public dialogue in their own campaigns for lieutenant governor. We are always stronger when we have many voices in the room and I learned much from the other hopefuls and thank them for their commitment to a stronger commonwealth.”

Across the aisle, state Rep. Austin Davis prevailed over two others in the Democrats’ lieutenant governor primary. Cash-flush Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is running for governor and had no primary opponent,  campaigned for Davis, running TV ads and even fielding a billboard truck that drove around West Chester earlier this week.

In the 24th state Senate District Republican Rep. Pennycuick bested David Moyer in the primary. Pennycuick was endorsed by retiring state Sen. Bob Mensch (R-Berks/Bucks/Montgomery). Pennycuick will face Democrat Jill Dennin, who defeated Emmanuel Wilkerson, in the fall. Dennin is a former substitute teacher and community volunteer.

“Thank you to everyone who voted in the primary yesterday,” Jill Dennin posted on Facebook. “My team and I are energized and there is a lot of work to be done between now and November. With so much at stake, we will need everyone’s help to reach all our voters.”

Pennycuick said, “I can’t thank the army of volunteers and supporters who backed my campaign through this primary election enough.  We enjoyed a big win yesterday. I was encouraged by the enthusiasm and energy of the voters. It is clear people are sick of the disastrous economic policies causing runaway inflation and skyrocketing grocery bills and gas prices, and I look forward to taking my message of commonsense economic, fiscal, and education policies to the entire electorate.”

In the 8th state Senate District, incumbent Anthony Hardy Williams (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) beat back a challenge from teacher Paul Prescod. No Republican is running in that district.

Bucks County Republican voters chose small business owner Bernie Sauer of Newtown Borough over marketing professional Jennifer Spillane in the GOP race in the 31st state House District. Sauer faces incumbent Democratic Rep. Perry Warren in the general election.

And in Delaware County, Democratic voters picked challenger Carol Kazeem, a community organizer backed by Working Families PA, over incumbent state Rep. Brian Kirkland in the 159th House District.  Kazeem will square off against Republican Ruth Moton in the fall.


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Regina Mauro: Chester County Voters Should Send a Conservative Woman to Congress

Republican Regina Mauro is running in the May 17 primary against three men. But she says she believes she is the best person running and will go on to knock off Democratic incumbent Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan in November. Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks) has been named one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the country and is being targeted by the Republican National Committee.

Mauro prides herself on being politically aware. That motivated her, in part, to seek the Republican nomination in the 6th Congressional District.

“I’ve always been very, very engaged and informed for years,” she said. “That’s how I was brought up.”

This isn’t Mauro’s first try for elective office. The Devon resident lost a bid for Chester County Controller last fall.

A lifelong Republican, Mauro sees a need to boost the number of conservative women in Congress. Her three opponents in the GOP primary race are men.

“I was concerned because I didn’t see any women candidates,” she said. “(The Republicans) definitely have an abundance of very qualified women.  So, seeing that and recognizing it was very important that we do have one in the race, I did my due diligence and I decided that I was ready for it.

“I’m also very concerned that the most underrepresented group in Congress is conservative women. Conservative women comprise just seven percent of Congress. All else being equal, you have to increase the representation of conservative women in Congress.

“I knew that I was equipped to be able to step in and not just be able to compete against the incumbent, but that I would be a very effective member of Congress.”

The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Mauro is passionate about education issues.

“Education is huge for me,” she said. “I grew up in a household where education was king. It was paramount. I’m really concerned that there is an inequality of quality in instruction in the 6th District.”

Mauro says adequate funding for education is an issue in some school districts but “that is not a universal problem.” She compared the academic performance of two school districts — which she did not name — located within the 6th District within approximately 20 miles of each other.

“When I looked at these two school districts, one spent slightly more on instruction and services than the other,” she said. “However, the one that’s spent slightly more performed at the bottom 20 percent academically in reading writing, and mathematics. The other performed in the upper 20 percent. So, that tells you there is a deficiency there.”

Mauro says she believes children should be able to attend the school that best meets their needs and bring their parents’ tax dollars with them.

“I do believe that tax dollars should follow the child,” she said, “and not be attached to the school they’re zoned for. That’s only step one; giving the parent the option of taking that money and transferring it to another school of their choice.

“In the meantime, we cannot abandon our local schools. At the end of the day, these local schools are part of the community. They’re a lot more accessible to the family and if given a choice, I think most parents, if the school was up to the standard they need for their child, would leave the kid there. So, while they have the option, we have to make sure that we bring those schools up to standard so those families can actually go back to that school.”

At a time when American politics is deeply divided, Mauro cites the need to get people of divergent political views to simply talk to each other.

“The first thing we have to do is lower the temperature,” she said. “We have to find things we have in common. We have more in common than not. But we have become so tribal. Everybody is so in their tribe, in their corner that we’re not talking to each other.

“We need to stop this. Most of us, Democrats and Republicans, are sort of in the middle. We need to stop grouping people by single ideas.”

Asked about her reaction to January 6 both before and after the events that occurred at the U.S. Capitol, she said,  “It was horrible that some lunatics, some were excited. Some were just following, whatever the participation. They absolutely felt it was okay to go (into the Capitol). Not all of them did obviously, you’ve seen plenty of videos where people are walking in like a tourist in line.

“But there are those who actually broke in. And that’s insanity to me,” she said. “What I regretted was the media portrayed everybody who attended that rally as being insurrectionists.”

Mauro was asked if she believed the result of the 2020 presidential election was legitimate.

“Do I think there was manipulation? Yes,” she said. “Do I think that was what caused the final result? Partly. Do I think this is new? No. There has been manipulation of elections forever.”

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