Will new West Chester trustees play well together?

  • Denise G. Callahan
  • Staff Writer
Nov 08, 2017
Michael Pitman

For several years, many votes on the West Chester Twp. trustee board have come down 2 to 1, with a new trustee in Ann Becker will that change? Maybe, maybe not.

Trustee Lee Wong, the top vote-getter Tuesday night, has been the odd man out on any number of issues, including hot button topics like Right to Work and transforming the former West Chester Twp. nursing home into a rehab center. Trustee Mark Welch and former trustee George Lang who now governs from the statehouse, usually agreed on everything, but Lee has taken an opposing stance often.

RELATED: Crowds flood West Chester meeting on Right to Work issue

“It’s been two against one, trying to squeeze me out…,” Wong said. “In the past that was not balanced. I want to see a cohesive board, I’d like to see we work together, yeah, agree to disagree but not like the past, it was horrible.”

Wong said he has talked with Becker and he believes she is an independent thinker who he will be able to work with well. He said he hopes all three trustees can work as a team.

Welch, who came in second — unofficial, final results show Welch was shy of Wong’s total by 191 votes — said Becker adds a new dynamic to the trustee board. He said she is an honorable person who is conservative in her beliefs like he is, so there could be more 2 to 1 votes in the future.

“She’s her own person and I look forward to some of the discussions we will have at the dias and in executive session,” Welch said. “I think it’s going to be lively and dynamic.”

MORE: Ann Becker wins race to replace ex-West Chester trustee George Lang

Becker, who won by a landslide in the eight-way race for Lang’s unexpired term, said she is not coming into this role with any preconceived notions, other than she wants to make the best decisions for West Chester.

“On most issues I’ll look at the facts of each case individually, and weigh them for the good of the residents and the good of the businesses,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll take either side hard line, I’ll look at each case and weigh it and be a good steward of the opinions of the residents and business owners.”

Coming up the biggest thing on the trustees’ plate is to hire a new township administrator. They will interview candidates next week, but Welch said they will not make the hiring decision until Becker is sworn into office.

An issue she wants to bring up is updating the township’s 2025 vision plan. She said they need to convene a group of residents and business to explore what they want the township’s future to look like.

Wong said now that Lang is no longer on the board he would like to revisit the Liberty Twp. walkability plan. The trustees from the two neighboring towns met over the summer to discuss pedestrian paths and connecting commercial and residential areas in both townships.

In the Journal-News Voters Guide, all candidates were asked about this plan, and it appears the newly elected trustees might be somewhat on the same page on this one.

RELATED: West Chester and Liberty townships eye walkability plan

Becker: “The development of new infrastructure is an area where we need to tread very carefully. In the Township, like our homes, everything we buy we need to maintain. Walking paths, bridges and other infrastructure ideas would need to be looked at with a very conservative eye. If anything is done, it will need to have the full backing of the residents that will use the paths and have the financial support of businesses that will benefit from the infrastructure.”

Welch: “I’m for the thoughtful consideration of optimally placed sidewalks and bike/hike trails, but always with an eye on being a good steward of the taxpayers money, not loading the generations that follow us with crushing maintenance costs and safety.”

Wong: Surveys have shown that the millennial demand to live in a community where it is pedestrian friendly, able to walk or bike to shopping/restaurant establishments and clean environment. I am for the idea of public and private partnership on walkability initiative to make commercial areas in both townships more pedestrian friendly.