Opinion: The Conshohocken Election – Some Things to Consider

On Tuesday, voters in the Borough of Conshohocken will be asked to vote for four seats on Borough Council (the majority). Four incumbents are up for re-election. They are Karen Tutino (D, Ward 1), Tina Sokolowski (D, Ward 3), Jane Flanagan (D, Ward 5) and Colleen Leonard (D, Ward 7).

They will face Joe Ferrigno (R, Ward 1), Kevin Lukens (R, Ward 5), and Kris Juner (R, Ward 7). Sokolowski is unopposed in Ward 3. The current political makeup of Conshohocken’s Borough Council is 6-1 in favor of the Democrats.

Democrats are the majority in the communities MoreThanTheCurve.com covers and they should hold the majorities on local boards and councils.

But when you can’t get an answer as to where two fire trucks are being kept and whether they are loaded with the equipment necessary to fight a fire, there is a problem.

That is exactly what took place in Conshohocken. It doesn’t really matter whether you think the Borough of Conshohocken’s decision to remove the fire trucks was right or wrong. After the fact, the Borough claimed Conshohocken still had the same level of fire protection. That was impossible with two trucks parked somewhere other than a firehouse ready to be utilized when there was a fire.

The Borough will claim that through mutual aid agreements that its statement was correct. But a truck needing to come from a neighboring community is not apples to apples.

MoreThanTheCurve.com asked members of Borough Council (which includes a lone Republican) for the location of the two trucks that did not appear to be parked inside Conshohocken Fire Company No. 2 (the location the ladder truck from Washington Fire Company was taken). We never got an answer.

Some other things to consider.

All of the incumbents running voted to approve creating a new zoning district to allow the SORA West redevelopment project that will bring the corporate headquarters of AmerisourceBergen, a hotel, parking garage, etc. at the corner of West Elm Street and Fayette Street.

This was the most consequential vote they took. In the above video from the SORA West groundbreaking Borough Council President Colleen Leonard speaks about all the hard work that went into it. Well, why isn’t she running on it? Take a look at her flyer (which is the only promotional piece we have seen except for lawn signs).

The flyer promoting the candidacy of Jane Flanagan that the Conshohocken Democrats published on its Facebook page drove us to do some research. The flyer lists a few accomplishments including the following:

Stood up for our neighborhoods to get the Sewer Authority to encapsulate the plant, drastically reducing odors.

According to information on the Sewer Authority’s website, the odor control project predates Flanagan’s appointment to Borough Council. She was appointed on February 3, 2016.

From the Sewer Authority’s update on the odor control project:

Due to the results of the Odor Control Study found by Webster Environmental Associates, in February of this year 2016 the Board unanimously approved a state of the art capital improvement project that will provide odor control generated by the WWTP. In the coming months, the construction of the Odor Control Project will be underway. While the construction phase is in progress, certain processes will be taken out of service so tanks can be properly coated and large covers installed. Therefore, the plant will need to operate its’ sludge handling facility more frequently while operating at half the facility’s capacity which in turn will generate odors.

The specific date to award the contract was February 26, 2016. The odor study, the decision to encapsulate the plant, etc, were all made prior to Flanagan’s appointment. The bid opening date was January 7, 2016. The only thing that was decided after she was appointed was which firm to award the work to (which was done 23 days after she took office).

It is troubling we couldn’t get an answer about the fire trucks and it is telling that the four incumbents aren’t running on their support of a redevelopment that will impact the future of Conshohocken in such a dramatic way (which won’t necessarily be negative). We aren’t sure what to say about Flanagan’s claim about the sewer odor. It is just not true.

Election day is Tuesday, November 5th.