To the Editor:
Last week three Democrats elected to Delaware County government in 2017 spoke at a meeting of Indivisible Swarthmore: Moving the Needle about their work, the difference they’ve been making on the job, and what’s at stake in the upcoming 2019 county elections.
Register of Wills Mary Walk talked about the improvements she’s been making--like accepting appointments for getting licenses rather than making applicants wait indefinitely on benches--and how she’s winning the respect of her office through hard work and even-handedness. Sheriff Jerry Sanders described being the only Democrat in the sheriff’s office as an opportunity: “to make people see that we’re good people…The sheriff’s office puts the face of the court on the street, and it should be a human face.” He also spoke about the challenge of keeping good staff when pay for deputies starts at $12.49/hour.
Council member Kevin Madden tied low pay for county employees to the county’s history of no-bid contracts for Council cronies, terrible hiring practices, and high taxes. He highlighted the county’s role in the debacle of the Mariner East pipeline project and the privately run George Hill Correctional Facility (which largely houses short-term, low-income prisoners who are simply unable to post bail), and decried Delco’s slow response to the opioid crisis. He explained how critical it is to get a third Democrat on County Council in 2019 — to have a majority — and highlighted the crucial roles of the Court of Common Pleas’ (four seats up for grabs this cycle) and District Attorney’s races.
It was exciting to learn about the day-to-day processes of county government, and also to get a glimpse into how things in Delaware County are slowly moving forward as new questions are raised and new ideas suggested. I often feel that what’s happening in America is so big, and so terrible, that it’s hard to imagine how to begin to change it. But in Delaware County, things are changing — for the better — and every one of us can be a part of it: by talking to our Council members about what’s important to us, and by getting involved in local organizations like the Delaware County Coalition for Prison Reform, Middletown Coalition for Community Safety, and Moving the Needle. And of course, most basically of all, by voting.