Kofi Osei picked the winning tile after a tie with incumbent Rich Marino for Towamencin supervisor in the Nov. 7, 2023 election.
The tie occurred after mail-in ballots that had previously been set aside were added due to a federal judge’s decision. On Nov. 28, Judge Susan Baxter of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania ruled that undated or mail-in ballots with the wrong date should be counted. This brought many county boards of elections that were in the midst of certifying their elections to a halt, including Montgomery County, which is now slated to certify its results on Dec. 4.
“The drawing occurred (Thursday) at 12 p.m. Candidates selected tiles number up to 30. The person who selected the lower number is the winner. The drawing was done alphabetically by last name. Marino picked 28, and Osei selected 15. Osei won,” said Megan Alt, Montgomery County spokesperson.
However, Marino is considering whether to challenge the result.
“My feeling is at this point is that I did not lose the election,” said Marino, a Republican. “I just picked the wrong number. Moving on to where this goes… from the feedback I am getting, this court decision changing the rules after election day and after voters had cast their ballots does not sit well with a lot of people. I feel I owe it to them as well as those that supported me to pursue the options that are available to me. In addition, there is strong sentiment that this is an issue that needs to be resolved before the 2024 election. Given that, I see an appeal of some sort down the road.”
Osei rose to prominence by leading Neighbors Against Privatization Efforts (NOPE), a group that opposed selling the township’s sewer system to a private company. He then spearheaded a successful referendum to change Towamencin’s charter to home rule in order to try to block the sewer sale.
The Democrat is not rushing to declare victory.
“First thing is first, I am not going to declare myself the winner until I am certified as such. Rich has some options to challenge the result, and I respect his right to do so,” said Osei. “This is the 2nd time a Towamencin supervisor race has been uncertain due to the way votes by mail are processed, and Act 77 has been subject to lawsuits ever since it was passed in 2019. I would urge the general assembly to clarify the law prior to the 2024 election by removing the date requirement and allowing pre-canvassing of the ballots.
“I am very excited to have so much support in Towamencin versus an incumbent, regardless of what ultimately happens. It has been a contentious few years in Towamencin because of the proposed sewer sale, and ending in a tie feels poetic. We have a lot of work to do in Towamencin between our comprehensive plan and the North Penn High School renovations, and I hope we can start to sew some of the divisions that came up. We had a very high turnout for a municipal election, and I hope more people continue to follow municipal government,” Osei said.