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DelVal’s Republican Rising Stars Are Helping Their Communities and PA

First-term Bucks County Rep. Kristin Marcell (R-Richboro) hit the ground running.

Marcell, a former Council Rock School Board member, is the sponsor of two bills that Gov. Josh Shapiro already signed into law:  one that requires the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) to engage in a public awareness campaign to educate the public about the dangers of human use of xylazine or “tranq,” and the other with Rep. K.C. Tomlinson (R-Bensalem), is the porch pirate bill that Sen. Frank Farry (R-Bucks) sponsored in the Senate, to make mail and package thefts a felony.

In one year, Marcell has sponsored 107 bills and 36 resolutions. She is the prime sponsor of 11 bills. Recently, with other Republican representatives, Marcell sponsored a package of bills to combat antisemitism. Her bill requires curriculum transparency for schools that teach about the Holocaust and genocide.

Rep. Kristin Marcell (R) is sworn in to represent the 178th District.

“It’s always a challenge in a closely divided House,” said Marcell. “But I was able to unite a bipartisan group of legislators to successfully call for one member to resign for sexual harassment and I was able to get legislation to toughen the penalties against porch pirates made into law. It proves we can still accomplish important things if we find consensus, even while staying true to our principles.”

In Chester County, Republican Eric Roe, a former state representative, was elected as a minority member to the county Board of Commissioners, replacing outgoing Commissioner Michelle Kichline in January.

“We live in the best county in America,” said Roe. “Let’s keep it that way for our children and grandchildren. As our county commissioner, I will strive to make our residents even prouder to live here. My goal is to make Chester County the most family-friendly and business-friendly county in the nation one day. We can achieve that by protecting our local economy and preserving our beautiful landscapes.”

“I’m not opposed to business and industry,” said Roe. “I just want it to be in the right places.”

Roe will  reach across party lines to get things done.  With a three-person board, “you only need one other person to agree with you,” he said.

Roe is also a fiscal conservative.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re living within our means,” he said. “Just in the last four years the county budget ballooned by over $200 million.” Much of that money is one-time payment, federal dollars. “I want to make sure we’re spending our money wisely (so) we’re not spending one-time funds on recurring projects.”

In Delaware County, Newtown Township Supervisors Chairman Leonard Altieri, served on the Marple-Newtown School Board before voters elected him as supervisor in 2019. At 30 he is the youngest person ever elected to be a Newtown supervisor.  Altieri was 23 when he was appointed to the school board, then elected to that position at 24.

DVJournal asked Altieri, a lawyer, what he’s done as a supervisor so far, and he immediately said, “Expanding walkability.” The township received a $650,000 state grant through former Rep. Chris Quinn (R-Newtown) for installing sidewalks.


“And we’re putting them in strategic areas in the township to connect different neighborhoods along busy roadways,” said Altieri. Sidewalks are also part of the new town center “that’s happening along West Chester Pike,” he said. “We required the installation of sidewalks there. Again, there were never sidewalks along West Chester Pike.”

“We also have strong fiscal management,” said Altieri. “We received an AAA bond rating from Moody’s, which we never had before. We are one of only two municipalities in the county (with) Radnor being the other one and only a handful in the state with an AAA bond rating. We’ve been very careful with our budget and have strong financial planning. There’s not a lot of people who can say that from a municipality perspective.”

 Incoming Chester County Commissioner Eric Roe

Newtown has the lowest tax rate of any Delaware County municipality with a full-time police department.

And the police department has been recognized and received the “highly coveted and extremely rare Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation certification along with certification from the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies.”

Altieri, who grew up in Newtown, said they are also big on sustainable development.  The previous board approved several new housing developments, and the current supervisors are making sure the developers live up to their commitments, he said.

They also use environmentally friendly practices with copiers and township vehicles, he said.

Altieri said on the school board and now a supervisor, his “number one priority” remains communication with his constituents. He uses a Facebook page, Instagram and emails to keep in touch.

Montgomery County Rep. Donna Scheuren (R-Harleysville) is a former businesswoman who served on the Souderton Area School Board before she was elected to the House in 2022.

“Serving the people of the 147th has been the honor of my life,” said Scheuren. “My legislative duties have allowed me to meet so many great residents, business owners, and non-profit organizations across the district, as well as the local leaders of our schools, churches, police, fire and emergency services housed within our townships and boroughs. All of them have great needs and wants or ideas to help keep their businesses or community’s strong, and advocating for all of it as their voice in Harrisburg is truly a privilege. There is much more to do and hopefully my first year in office is the start of many more to come.”

Scheuren secured funding to build a new bridge on Bergey’s Mill Road in Lower Salford, which was out for 12 years, causing slower emergency response times.

Rep. Donna Scheuren

“I was also proud to stand with my fellow legislators to propose a package of bills that promote transparency in government related settlements,” said Scheuren. “My legislation would amend the PennWATCH Act to include information on each settlement paid to an individual, or to an employee of a commonwealth agency, as a result of an action taken by an employee of a commonwealth agency.

“With no risk of personal or private information being shared on any victims, my legislation would provide an easier way to monitor how taxpayers’ dollars are being spent, as well as greater transparency on taxpayer funded expenditures and investments,” she said.

Scheuren said, “Along with my Republican colleagues, we also successfully fought for $150 million in Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) funding to be included in the final budget, after Democrats took it out at the last second just before a vote before Thanksgiving. I am fighting for education at every level of the process.  Whether its funding win-win programs like EITC helping local businesses and schools simultaneously, or new funding for our technical career centers, or my legislation that would help to fix the school bus driver shortage by providing an income tax-credit to new bus drivers, I’m driving common sense legislation through the chamber.”

Scheuren hopes to make Pennsylvania more business friendly.

“With the governor’s announcement to appeal the court’s verdict that enrolling Pennsylvania into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is unconstitutional – knowing full well that enrollment in RGGI will send utility bills for all PA residents through the roof – to the unnecessary attacks and potential mandates on our vital energy resources throughout the state, or to getting our labor force back to work to boost state revenues, there is great need to address all these issues.”

“I am once again ready to take on the challenge of making Pennsylvania a better place for all,” said Scheuren.

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Chesco GOP Decries Democrat Officials’ Incompetence in Wake of Prisoner Escape

Candidates and members of the Chester County GOP held a rally on the steps of the old courthouse Wednesday in the wake of the escape of murderer Danelo Cavalcante.

Cavalcante, who was wanted for murder in his native Brazil, brutally stabbed his girlfriend to death in front of her children. A  jury convicted him, and a judge sentenced him to life in prison in August.

While he was being held at the Chester County Prison awaiting transfer to a state prison, on Aug. 31, Cavalcante “crab-walked” up two walls in a narrow corridor to the jail’s roof and made his way off the premises to freedom.

Another inmate used that approach in May, escaping too, but was quickly recaptured.

Also, on Wednesday, the county Prison Board, which includes the county commissioners, sheriff, and district attorney, held a meeting and voted on renovations to the jail, including walls to enclose the exercise yards.

The Republicans promised if the voters elect them, they would do better than the Democrats, who now hold all the county row offices except one commissioner’s seat reserved for the minority party. They all praised the efforts of law enforcement officials who tracked Cavalcante down.

“The world is watching. In my hands is an article from The Washington Post that details how our detractors reveled in our chaos since Cavalcante escaped and made this monster of a man into a cult hero,” said Eric Roe, a former state representative running for county commissioner. “All because our county’s leaders failed to keep him locked up in prison.”

Roe recounted how “men and women stayed awake at night, keeping watch over their home while their spouses and children slept. I was struck by the number of people who listened out their windows for the sound of rustling leaves and footsteps and the sight of flashlights in nearby woods.”

Chester County GOP candidates (left to right) Ryan Hyde, Eric Roe, David Sommers, and Roy Kofroth

“People move here and choose to remain here because safety, until recently, has been at the core of the Chester County experience. But all that changed on Aug. 31. We have to get that back. As your county commissioner, I’ll see to it that we do get that back. Chester County is watching.”

Commissioner candidate Dave Sommers, a teacher, said, “The primary role for any government is the safety and wellbeing of its residents. Chester County Commissioners are responsible for ensuring the safety for our communities as outlined in the Prison  Mission Statement. However, the safety of Chester County was placed in jeopardy.”

“What more evidence need we provide that local and municipal elections matter?” asked Sommers. “Your daily life, for good or bad, is greatly affected by those you entrust to hold public office.   Motivation to vote has become very clear over the past three weeks. Chester County deserves better from its elected officials.”

Roy Kofroth, a former Chester County sheriff’s deputy now running for sheriff, said he had been a deputy under the previous sheriff and the current sheriff, as well as a small business owner.

“Just four years ago, our Sheriff’s Office had approximately 60 working deputies, the ones that you see protecting our buildings, in the courtrooms, transporting prisoners, among other jobs. We now have around 17-18. That means the office is running at one-third capacity.

“We had eight award-winning dogs; that is one-quarter of what we used to have. We had a fugitive apprehension team. That’s gone…The Sheriff’s Office is so unprepared it it was only a matter of time before something would happen.

In the words of Chester County Prison Warden Howard Holland on Monday, ‘If we had dogs, we would have gotten him that day.’”

Ryan Hyde, a lawyer running for district attorney, said, “Three weeks ago, most of us can say our bubble was shattered. The idea of public safety became a punch line for people. I heard on the news he was within two and a half miles from my house. I didn’t sleep that night. An armed and dangerous felon was in the towns within Chester County.”

People tell Hyde they never locked the doors on their homes and cars, but now they do. And they’re noticing more crime.

“Two men, two nights ago, took hammers and broke into a kids’ toy shop to steal Pokemon cards. Last night in West Chester, a man wrestled with two police officers.

“The time where we say that doesn’t happen in Chester County is long gone. Part of it is because of what I like to call erosion,” he said. “We learned to take a little bit more each time. We learned to accept a little bit more.”

“My opponent came out with an ad that says he ‘thinks about public safety.’ All of us think about public safety. All of us do. All of us want to walk out in our yard and be safe. And all of us want to know if someone does break into their house, not only will they be captured, but they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That’s what we need…We want to go to a world where the police and District Attorney are responsive,” said Hyde.

He promised to bring law and order back to the county if elected.

Chester County GOP Chairman Raffi Terzian led the group of about 25 supporters in a chant, “Chester County deserves better.”

As for their Democratic opposition in the wake of the Cavalcante escape, Terzian said, “Now these elected officials are asking us to re-elect them or promote them to a judicial position. I say Chester County deserves better. This episode exposed a series of systemic problems and failures.”

“We deserve highly competent leadership who puts the interests of its citizens first, who prioritizes safety and security, who act with transparency as the bottom line. We cannot trust those who created the problem to fix it. It is time for a change.”

In contrast, Chester County Democratic Chair Charlotte Valyo praised the Democrat officials after Cavalcante was captured.

“We can be proud of our elected officials who remained calm and continued to do their jobs under the duress of public scrutiny and criticism,” Valyo said. “Now they are free to share the actions and plans being implemented to ensure this situation does not happen again. Our elected officials have governed well through every crisis presented to them, and they will continue to make the decisions that are best for all of Chester County.”

Chester County Dems Slammed Over Lax Prison Security That Led to Escapes

Having overseen the Chester County Prison, where two prisoners –including convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante — have escaped since May, Democrats shouldn’t escape their responsibility for this security failure.

That was the message from Republicans holding a press conference Wednesday calling out Democratic county officials, such as the sheriff, district attorney, and the majority commissioners, for their failed oversight of the county prison in the wake of Cavalcante’s escape.

“The residents of Chester County deserve better,” said Eric Roe, the former state representative and a Republican running for county commissioner. “Let me be clear: I am not criticizing the brave men and women of law enforcement who are out there in the heat working tirelessly to find this dangerous and evil man. My frustration is with the people at the highest levels of county government tasked with preventing these escapes, acting quickly in the event of an escape, and keeping our residents properly informed. Several Chester County Prison Board members are on your ballot this November. If you are not happy with the status quo, then I urge you to vote accordingly.”

Cavalcante escaped from the Chester County Prison on Aug. 31 and has not been apprehended as of this writing. There have been multiple sightings, including on trail cameras in Longwood Gardens. A jury convicted Cavalcante of murder for brutally stabbing his girlfriend in front of her children, and a judge sentenced him to life in prison. Cavalcante is also wanted for a 2017 murder in his native Brazil, officials said.

The primary role for any government is the safety and wellbeing of its residents,” said David Sommers, a Republican candidate for county commission. “Chester County Commissioners must keep our communities safe. The escape of an ‘extremely dangerous’ inmate from the Chester County Prison is of great concern. It is the duty and responsibility of the entire Chester County Prison Board, of which the three commissioners are members, to run and maintain the correctional facility. Many questions remain unanswered to date. Residents deserve a full explanation of the events surrounding the escape, response time, and subsequent notification to the public.”

The commissioners “must thoroughly search for a new, qualified, vetted, permanent Chester County Prison warden,” Sommers added.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, Cavalcante was still on the run, apparently having burglarized a home or homes to take food and items he needed to survive. Cameras showed him in Pocopson Township and areas near Longwood Gardens. Then Longwood Gardens officials saw Cavalcante walking on their trails.

“On the morning of September 5, 2023, security at Longwood Gardens notified law enforcement that they had received trail camera footage that was taken on their property, which showed an individual appearing to be Cavalcante,” a press release stated. “This area was just south of the original perimeter. Investigators confirmed it was Danelo Cavalcante, and he had a backpack, a duffle sling pack, and a hooded sweatshirt.

“Cavalcante was seen in the trail camera footage walking north at 8:21 p.m. and back south through the same location at 9:33 p.m. Based on that information, the manhunt has shifted from the original parameter to contain him, moving towards the southern end of the established perimeter,” the statement said.

Longwood Gardens closed. Area school superintendents were notified, leading to the closures of schools in Unionville Chadds-Ford and Kennett Area Consolidated school districts. Residents were notified by reverse 911.

Rep. Craig Williams (R-Chadds Ford), whose district includes the affected area, told DVJournal, “I am in touch with both the State Police and the Governor’s Office of Legislative Affairs. My first priority is the safety of my community by capturing an escaped felon. I am told the FBI, U.S. Marshals, Pennsylvania State Police, the state police of Maryland and Delaware, as well as aviation and canine assets from those agencies, are now added to the hunt. That should bring some comfort to my worried district.”

“When this convict is recaptured, then we will have a conversation about the security of the Pocopson facility,” added Williams, a former U.S. Assistant Attorney General and Marine JAG officer.

Commonwealth Foundation Senior Fellow Guy Ciarrocchi, who served as a state deputy attorney general, is livid about the incompetence of county officials.

“We now have the worst of our fears: An escaped convicted murderer is out and running around southern Chester County,” said Ciarrocchi.

Asked why county officials did not fix problems at the prison after a different inmate escaped in May, Ciarrocchi said, “You’re asking one of those commonsense questions that goes above and beyond law enforcement and politics. It’s a commonsense question. If it happened once, why wasn’t it fixed? And that’s a question somebody better answer. And our sheriff ought to answer that. Our commissioners ought to answer it. Our district attorney ought to answer it. But our sheriff and our district attorney are busy running for county judge, hoping people will vote for them because of their party label.”

A county spokeswoman said the matter is under investigation.

Ciarrocchi said the county prison should not house such dangerous prisoners. It is where inmates are “typically car thieves, con artists, welfare fraud, not, not usually physically harmful, violent, violent people go there as a holding cell until they’re being sent to a more secure prison.”

Longwood Gardens cameras caught the fugitive on a trail.

Cavalcante should not have been there, but since he was, prison authorities should have taken more precautions with him.

“We have one job. Hold this man until he’s put into a maximum security prison. And they failed in that basic duty. This is, this is a horrific failure of leadership. And then it was compounded by not really getting the public engaged so that we could be vigilant to help capture him and protect loved ones in our businesses,” said Ciarrocchi.

Ciarrocchi said, “This was a convicted murderer who is also standing on murder charges in Brazil. He should be the one person that everybody is paying attention to, and he is the one that they should have been building security around…To let him go, uh, is a gross failure in duty. And to let him go this many days and not engage the public is far worse. So that’s what appears to have happened.”

The district attorney’s office said hundreds of law enforcement officers are working around the clock to find Cavalcante. Helicopters, drones, and K-9 units are aiding the search.

Residents should keep their doors and windows locked and be aware of their surroundings.

Anyone with any information on the whereabouts of Danelo Cavalcante is asked to call 9-1-1 immediately. Officials said there is a $10,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to his capture.

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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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