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Meet The Democrats

With the election on the horizon, our newest reporter, Althea Hutchinson, sat down with candidates from both parties, in no particular order. The views in these articles are the views of the reporter and should not be considered an endorsement of any party or candidate.

The 2019 election is on Tuesday, Nov. 5th 2019.

Polls are open from 7am – 8pm.

I had the opportunity to visit the home of Marian Moskowitz, who kindly invited myself, along with other members of a local civic engagement program, to her lovely home to meet the Democratic slate for Chester County. It was a huge, busy party, but instead of feeling intimidated, I was immediately, somehow, at ease. Three people stopped to greet me and welcome me before I even made it to the kitchen. It was a comfortable sort of gathering, where everyone knew one another. Many of the guests were friends of the Moskowitz family or local Democrats, but several of the 9 currently running Dems were also there.

Mrs. Moskowitz herself is a fascinating, incredibly impressive figure. She comes off as competent, powerful and absolutely on top of whatever task she may be handling. When she entered the room, I knew who she was without looking for a nametag, simply for the way she commanded the
room. Her words were “it’s time for a business woman to be in the commissioner’s office,” noting that in the 34 years she’s lived in Chester County, we’ve never had one. Not only does she seem up to the job, the plans the outline, her emphasis on education – including the 12 years she’s spent on the board of WCU – and her involvement in both local economy and culture convince me that she will absolutely do amazing things for Chester County. While I spoke to her, she told me an incredible story. When Marian was younger, around 11, and babysitting her neighbor’s kids, she took them for a walk around the block. A neighbor had a dog – a huge German Shepard by her description – who jumped their fence and went after Mrs. Moskowitz. “It nearly killed me,” she told us. An ice-cream truck driver managed to pull the dog off her and onto himself, and “saved [her].”

She had to spend 8 months recovering in bed, and halfway there, she became so depressed with staying in bed that she drew a smiling sun on the wall and told herself to look at it each morning and smile. It was hard at first, she confessed, but all these years later, her “husband says [she’s] the only person he knows who wakes up smiling each morning.” This anecdote is the perfect example of Marian’s personality – she’s determined, powerful, and energetic. She describes our county as “at a crossroads,”with an aging population and a conservative national government, but she approaches it with a contagious positive energy. I left my conversation with her feeling energized and powerful – a trait you absolutely want in a local leader.

Among Mrs. Moskowitz’s other guests were Bret Binder, who I met only in passing, but who seemed down to earth, well balanced and very aware, Melissa Shusterman, who was recently elected as the State Representative for the 157 th , the peer of West Chester’s very own Carolyn Comitta. Ms. Shusterman has a policy of “common sense before politics” that makes her incredibly approachable for anyone of any party. She describes herself as “pro-science and pro-choice,” and her dedication to “continued education, education and organization” (which is her advice to the rising politically active youth) leaves her open to hearing both sides of any issue and making an education decision.

The interesting fact that Shusterman pointed out to me is how well the Democratic slate works together – their agendas overlap in the right ways to promote cooperation between offices and politicians. Several people spoke to me about working with Maxwell and Moskowitz to promote workforce development, better affordable housing and environmental change. Mark Freed, who is a deeply involved environmental lawyer, but not a candidate, described the group as a “really good slate,” full of the sort of “kind people, [and] warm, knowledgeable and caring,” individuals another friend of the Moskowitz family helped introduce me to.

Josh Maxwell himself is a fascinating person to talk with. He presents himself in a very humble, but still aware and educated individual. His big push is the growth of a new generation of politicians and politically aware citizens who feel un- or underrepresented. A large part of his work as Downingtown’s youngest-ever mayor was climate change and criminal justice change, the priorities favored by this growing younger political base. His theory when running for mayor was to provide Downingtown with a fresh start, which Maxwell claims, with a small smile, that he proved, three terms consecutively. He was the fresh start the town needed. He’s a fresh start for Chester County, too, describing himself as a part of a “new generation [that] is qualified and ready to lead in government.” More than any of the other politicians I spoke with, Maxwell seems like a perfectly normal, average guy. He looks and acts like someone you would run into at a neighborhood barbeque, a little nerdy but absolutely approachable and so incredibly friendly and helpful, willing to answer any question and help in any way he can.

The only other person I got a chance to speak at length with was Debbie Bookman, who is running for Prothonotary. A member of the Coatesville City Council and a part of the Parks and Recreation Department, she’s an advocate and a domestic violence survivor. With a strong business background, Bookman hopes to bring a new culture to her office, breaking down language barriers and breaking down unnecessarily discriminatory or polarizing practices. She’s an incredibly present individual, and although I spoke to her early in the evening, every time I passed her for the rest of the night, she offered me a smile and several introductions to whomever she was speaking with. In other words, Bookman is a genuinely nice, inclusive person, and I felt welcomed and heard when speaking to her.

In short, the Democratic slate is a group of nine-strong, powerful, and incredibly qualified individuals, all of whom seem absolutely up to the tasks ahead of them. Each person I spoke to not only welcomed me enthusiastically but engaged me in their conversations, introducing me and catching me up on what I’d missed. The familiarity and family atmosphere of the gathering made a formal campaign event feel casual and comfortable, and even as an outsider, I felt perfectly at home. I’m very excited to see the results of the upcoming election with so many talented candidates on both sides of the field, and such a universal passion for the success of Chester County as a whole.

The 2019 election is on Tuesday, Nov. 5th 2019.

Polls are open from 7am – 8pm.