Local Politics is an as-needed column on the political scene in Montgomery County filled with speculation, opinion, and more.
Today, Montgomery County released the unofficial list of candidates for the 2023 election. It is unofficial because the petitions that were submitted can be contested and those who qualified can withdraw from the race they qualified for prior to the election.
The opportunity for actual debate about local issues continues its decline due to the lack of competitive primaries and the inability of local Republicans to run candidates for all of the offices up for election.
When you add in the resulting one-party rule on the four local municipal boards, it doesn’t bode well for actual public discourse.
And while it is great that the recent winning school board candidates have been able to push off party control, that doesn’t mean that a single slate of candidates each election is a good thing.
Below is a breakdown of who is running.
Borough of Conshohocken
One incumbent, Karen Tutino (D) of Ward 1, has decided to not run for re-election. Incumbent Democrats Colleen Leonard (Ward 7), Tina Sokolowski (Ward 3), and Kathleen Kingsley (Ward 5) are all running and will be joined by first-time candidate Alan Chmielewski (Ward 1). The Republicans could only muster one candidate, Kevin Lukens, who is running to represent Ward 5. There are no competitive primaries and only voters in Ward 5 will have an option on the general election ballot in November.
Lukens ran for the same office in 2019 and lost to Jane Flanagan. Flanagan resigned from office in 2021 and Kingsley was appointed to replace her and then as required by law ran for a two-year term that same year. In that race, Kingsley defeated Rita Montemayor (R).
Borough of West Conshohocken
The Borough Council in West Conshohocken has seen several resignations in the past 12 months and now those who have been appointed are now seeking a full term. Democrats Jeffrey F. Ewing, Amelia Gale, Zachary Nelson, and Kelly Snizavich, are all incumbents by appointment who are seeking four-year terms. In West Conshohocken, Republicans are running two candidates, David R. Frankenfield Jr. and Walter Gleba. Neither party has a competitive primary and in the general election, the four candidates who receive the most votes win.
There is also a two-year term on the board up for election (due to one of the resignations). Incumbent Democrat Tara Gorney is running in that race without a primary opponent as is Republican David R. Frankenfield Jr.
There are two seats up for election on Plymouth’s Council. In Ward 2, there is only one candidate, Democrat Kristin Frederick Leonard, who is a first-time candidate. In Ward 4, incumbent Democrat Kathy Bandish is running for re-election and in the general election will face former councilmember Lenore Bruno (R).
There are three at-large seats up for election in Whitemarsh. Two incumbent Democrats, Vincent and Jacy Toll, are running for re-election. They are joined by a first-time candidate and fellow Democrat Elizabeth Moy. No Republicans are running.
Colonial School Board
There are six seats up for election on the school board and six candidates running, so it is not a competitive race. The six candidates (Beth Patruno, Chris Epstein, Rick Carpenter, Sharon Marino, Jeremy Schwartz, and Mark Marsico) are running outside of the party system as they did not seek endorsement from either party but will appear on the ballot as both Democrats and Republicans (Pennsylvania law allows candidates, no matter the party they actually belong to, to qualify for both ballots in the primary). The six are running on a unified slate named Connecting Colonial: Nonpartisan Candidates for School Board in 2023.
Patruno and Epstein first came into office after winning the 2019 election. Carpenter and Marino were appointed to the board. Schwartz and Marsico are first-time candidates.
Magisterial District Judge (38-1-23)
This is for the magisterial district court that covers the eastern side of the Borough of Conshohocken and Whitemarsh Township. Magisterial District Judge Deborah A. Lukens is not seeking re-election. Running are Dara Anne Nasatir and Joseph Sheehan. Both will appear on the ballots for both parties (Pennsylvania law allows candidates, no matter the party they actually belong to, to qualify for both ballots in the primary).