UPPER DARBY — Democrats extended their gains in Upper Darby Township politics by winning the mayor’s race and four more seats on township council in Tuesday’s election.
Democrat Barbarann Keffer denied incumbent Republican Mayor Tom Micozzie a third term as mayor by beating him 11,090 to 10,171 according to unofficial election as of Wednesday morning. Keffer, a current township councilwoman at-large, becomes just the second woman to be elected mayor of Upper Darby.
Keffer was hesitant to declare herself the winner Tuesday, but was happy with the results that are leaning in her favor.
“I’m overwhelmed. It was a hard race to run against someone who has been in office for 30 years and part of a dynasty, the machine,” said Keffer. “But I’m part of a team that has worked tremendously hard in an organized way to reach our voters to convince them that we’re the team to turn that around.”
Keffer was first elected to township council in an at-large race in 2013 and was re-elected to the same position in 2017. She ran a campaign focused on transparency within the government after decades of Republican rule which she made headway on as a council member with the publication of council meeting agendas and minutes. Establishing an open and fair bidding process for high-profile contract work was another key factor in her campaign.
This was her first mayoral campaign after running unsuccessfully for state representative in 2016, township council at-large in 2009 and 2011, in addition to her council victories in 2013 and 2017. She will resign her seat on council to serve as mayor, opening up a vacancy that may be filled by another Democrat.
Keffer celebrated her historic win, and that of her successful council candidates, at Casey’s Restaurant in Drexel Hill.
After increasing their tally to five of the 11 council seats as a result of the 2017 municipal elections (losing what would have been a majority-ruling sixth seat by just 10 votes in the 1st District race), Democrats picked up a safe majority by taking three seats from Republicans.
Michelle Billups and Brian Burke took the two remaining at-large seats from Republican incumbent Patrick J. Spellman and newcomer Terry Tracy. Billups and Burke earned approximately 11,700 votes each to Spellman and Tracy’s 8,800 and 8,700 respectively. Keffer and Laura Wentz hold the other two at-large seats on council.
Democrats kept their hold on the 6th District council seat with incumbent Sheikh Siddique running unopposed in the election (he did, however, fend off a Democratic challenger in the primary).
Democrats now have eight seats on the 11-person panel (districts 4, 5, 6, 7, and four at-large).
Micozzie, who did not concede the race Tuesday, said if he’s officially elected to a third term he will work with the Democratic-ruled council.
“It’s a democracy, you’re supposed to work together,” he said. “I’m good at working with the other side of the aisle. We’re all elected to serve. By and large, that’s what you’re there for.”
Micozzie said he will be waiting for all unofficial results to come in Wednesday morning and the absentee, provisional and military ballots that still need to be counted.
Republican incumbent Lisa Faraglia held her seat for the 2nd District against challenger Matt Silva by approximately 200 votes, but Republican Marc Manfre lost his 4th District seat to Democratic challenger Danyelle Blackwell by 260.
In the Upper Darby School Board race, Democrats held on to the majority they first won in 2017 with another clean sweep.
With five seats up they have now confirmed the nine-member majority to serve the constituents of Upper Darby and the boroughs of Clifton Heights and Millbourne.
Incumbents Gina Curry and Don Fields will be joined by first-timers David Neill, Damien Warsavage and Meredith Hegg. Hegg’s win marks the first time since 2011 that a person from Clifton Heights has been elected to the school board. Residents from the borough have complained about the lack of representation on the school board since the proposed middle school project was introduced at the start of the year.
Clifton had two chances to win a seat on the board in Hegg and Republican Suzanne Briddes.
Each winning school board candidate earned 11,200 to 12,500 votes each. The only Republican candidate to receive at least 10,000 votes each in the school district race was former state representative Jamie Santora.