Stefan Roots has beaten Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland in the Democratic primary for Chester mayor and will be on the ballot in November. And it’s possible Roots may be running against himself.
Without a Republican candidate in the race, the GOP nominee will be determined by the results of the 205 write-in ballots. And given that Roots has received a significant number of write-in votes from Republicans in the past, speculation is rife within City Hall that he is likely to be the GOP nominee, too.
Delaware County Spokeswoman Adrienne Marofsky said the county was still counting votes and could not confirm on Thursday whether the write-in Republican votes were for Roots or other candidates.
Roots told DVJournal on Wednesday that if he did get the most Republican write-in votes, it wasn’t part of his plan.
“I did not cross-file,” Roots said. “So, if Republicans voted for me, I’d be curious to know how many.”
“When I ran for council, I got 94 write-ins. Between then and now, I learned that if I’d gotten to 100, that would automatically put me on the ballot in the fall. I guess I’m a Republican and a Democrat. I’ll be competing against myself.”
Roots mentioned in a May 16 article that he was confident he would get enough Republican votes to run in November.
Asked about that article that mentions Republicans voting for him, Roots said it was not part of his strategy, but he would not be surprised, given that he had 94 Republican write-in votes when he ran for council, that more Republicans would write his name in.
“I assumed it was the same 94 plus at least six more,” he said when asked to clarify his remarks. Since he has been on council, he said more people know about him. “There was not any effort on my part. If they did it on their own, they did it on their own.”
On the Democrat side, Roots received 2,027 votes to Kirkland’s 730. Patricia Worrell tallied 552.
Kirkland did not respond to requests for comment.
Roots, a blogger and councilman, campaigned on the promise that he would offer a fresh start for the beleaguered city, which is under the control of a state Receiver because of longstanding financial difficulties.
“There will be changes,” said Roots. “I think the degree to which things will change will probably be more incremental than a big bang.”
Roots added, “There’s the Receiver, and court cases will be heard and hopefully settled even before I take office, which won’t be until January.”
“There’s a lot of moving parts,” said Roots. “You know, I wish I could wave a magic wand and throw all the appeals out the window and just focus on getting things right. But our mayor and council members have chosen to challenge receivership in the direction the courts want to go. I’m still a council person, and I can’t reverse any of that in the meantime.”
Asked about Covanta, the trash incinerator that has been an issue for many Chester residents, Roots said he would be more aggressive than Kirkland in demanding benefits for the city from Covanta.
“I’m looking to work with them to partner in beautifying Chester,” said Roots. “It’s long overdue. They want to be a partner, and I don’t think the city has asked enough of them up until now. They’re going to hear my knock at the door quite often.”
Roots said there are seven months for him and his team to make the transition to a new administration.
“The team I’ve assembled is champing at the bit,” said Roots. Chester has been losing “one brick at a time,” he said. “It’s time to put the pieces back together again in the other direction.”
As a little reward for winning, Roots went to his favorite shoe store Wednesday morning and bought himself a new pair of black dress shoes.