The sweep of Democratic victories that has officially locked down all control of county council and the District Attorney’s office - in addition to county row offices it claimed in 2017 - the years-long simmering strength of the party in the county reached a boiling point Tuesday.
The collective power that took county government seeped into individual municipalities that have had unchallenged Republican control, or increased their presence on their respective council and boards.
After claiming their fifth seat on Upper Darby Township Council in 2017, Democrats earned three more Tuesday and took the mayor’s office away from 10-year GOP incumbent Tom Micozzie. Democrats claimed a six-person majority on the Upper Darby School Board in 2017, but claimed all of the seats this year.
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The Rose Tree Media School Board had the same sweep by Democrats who took all five seats to claim the entire nine-member board. An entirely fresh slate of Democratic candidates took anywhere from 6,800 to 7,300 voters each, according to unofficial voting returns, pushing Republican board president and vice president Jeff Koenig and William O’Donnell, respectively, out of office. No other Republican incumbents ran on the ballot, but Jenny Dresden, AnnMarie Koveal and Janet Beausoleil unsuccessfully rounded out the GOP’s ticket.
Per the unofficial election results published by the county, the Democrats had their strongest showing ever in Collingdale where they handedly won three borough council seats for Dorothy Gallagher, Brianna Rush-Green and Daryl L. Booker by approximately 200 votes each over incumbents Chris McBreen, Colin McCann and Jeff Bucolo. The Democrats had not run any candidates to campaign for a seat on the seven-member council since at least 2009.
In the two-year term mayor’s race, Felicia Coffee has an unofficial 66-vote lead over Republican incumbent Joseph Ciavarelli (1,143 to 1,077) with all of their machines reporting. Coffee and Ciavarelli campaigned to fill the remainder of the term of Frank Kelly, who died in November 2018 at the age of 84 in the first year of his 11th consecutive mayoral term. Kelly, a Republican, was the longest-serving mayor in Pennsylvania’s history.
Aldan, too, had its fair share of Democratic wins when its slate took the four council seats on the ballot. Caroline McKernan, Harold Borders Jr., Joyce Lambert and Daniel Procopio unofficially earned 700 to 770 votes each against the Republicans whose incumbents Sandy Durso and Sal Oropollo lost with Michele Gannon and Regina Coady with 600 to 644 votes each.
Democrats may have the majority of the borough council, but Republican Carmen Maniaci will hold on to the mayor’s office through at least the end of his term in 2021.
A similar split occurred in Folcroft Borough where Democrats took the four-person majority on council after Tuesday’s unofficial victories.
Joseph Papelo, Kyle Willis, Leigh Daly and Mindy Isaac handedly won over Republican incumbents Nicholas Marino, Lawrence Penny, Robert Schramm and Christine Peterson, creating a gap of 149 votes between the lowest-earning winner (Isaac, 855) and the runner-up (Marino, 706).
No Democrats had run for borough council in 2017.
Like Aldan, the Dem-majority council will work with a Republican mayor, Robert Frey, who was not up for reelection this year.
Republicans will still have a slim control over Eddystone despite losing three council seats to Democrats. Unofficial polling numbers show a very tight race in the borough where Democrats had mere single- or double-digit wins over the Republicans. Rob Yannuzzi led that race with 290 votes while his Democratic running mates Chris Sprague and Glen Wilson earned 288 and 274 votes, respectively. Republican Council Vice President Kelly Ann Butkus collected 267 votes, with her fellow incumbents Mandy Hall and William Bolton garnering 253 and 248 votes, respectively.
Republican Mayor Allen Reeves Jr. was not up for reelection and will may work with a split council favoring his party 4-3, with official results pending.
Another extremely close race was found in Parkside where a handful of votes separated the victors.
After having a blank slate in 2017, Democrats unofficially won three borough council seats for Anna Guy, Scott Sidlow and Perry Sweigart who picked up 314, 308 and 308 votes, respectively. These numbers barely edge out Republican incumbents Robert Powers and Kevin Underwood, 298 and 289, respectively, and William Todd Bennett’s 294 votes.
Again, as in Eddystone, if these numbers hold true, Parkside will keep its Republican control by 4-3 on council and with the mayor, Thomas Deitman.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Republicans will continue to lead Brookhaven Borough Council by a 5-2 majority after Tuesday’s election while working with a Democratic mayor, Michael Hess, who was not up for reelection this year. Republicans actually made gains here with incumbent Donna Fooks holding her seat and Cherie Heller and Hector Vazquez Jr. clinching victory. Incumbent Democratic Council President and Vice President Vawn Donaway and Jim LaPera, respectively, lost their reelection bids with Lyn Delgott.
Democrats earned a majority on the five-member Upper Providence Council with Republican Chairman Tim Broadhurst losing to Democratic challenger Elgin Akarsoy by 70 votes, 389-319, in the 4th district race. Democrat Kevin Else defeated Republican Gregory Mallon Jr. for the 2nd district seats 490-461. If the results hold, Akarsoy and Else will join 1st District Commissioner Beth Glassman to have a 3-2 Democratic majority.
A close race for the Haverford Board of Commissioners may still keep the governing body split after Tuesday.
Incumbent Republicans Steve D’Emilio, Andy Lewis and William Welscher secured their seats as did Democratic incumbent Kevin McCloskey. An open seat for the 7th Ward is favoring Republican Conor Francis Quinn against Democrat Hannah B. Turlish, 1,199 to 1,132. The seat is held by outgoing Republican James McGarrity.
If Quinn is officially declared the winner the board will continue to have a 5-4 split in favor of Republicans.
There was no such split for the township’s board of school directors where Democrats easily retained their majority.
There was no breaking the Republican grip in the four commissioner races in Springfield Township, but Morton’s Democratic team ousted Christopher DeSantis from the borough’s seat on the Springfield School Board with a defeat to Democratic Jacqueline Guy, 499-289. Morton retained its Democratic hold with uncontested council seat wins and incumbent Tom App holding on as mayor for a two-year term.
A similar scene occurred in Upland Borough where only one Democrat, Abigail Gertner, was able to break past the Republican hold by defeating incumbent Leland Hunter Jr. with 269 votes against his 231 in the five-person race for four seats. Other GOP incumbents include Christine Peterson whose cross-filing earned her over 500 votes, and Sandra Deldeo and Julie Kerns who collected 250 and 266 votes, respectively.
In Radnor, Dems picked up one more seat with Damien Enderle’s victory to increase the majority to 5-2 over Republicans. Democratic incumbents Moira Mulroney, Sean Farhy and John Larkin also kept their seats.
Outgoing Republican incumbent Michael Dougherty had his 1st Ward seat on the Nether Providence Board of Commissioners filled by Democrat Max Cooper with a 50-vote margin over Bob Kelly for the open seat. This gives the Democrats a 6-1 advantage over lone Republican Robert O’Connor.
Conversely, Republicans may have made gains in at least one municipality.
Democratic Chester Heights Councilman Philip Block has lost his seat to a Republican, and his colleague Susan Clarke potentially on the bubble to lose her seat, in a six-person race for three seats where six votes may separate a winner from a loser. Republicans Laura Macy Lim and David William Firkser earned respective vote totals of 479 and 475 with Clarke earning 468 votes. The GOP’s Natalie Anderson was the first runner-up with 462 votes followed by Block at 460 and Democrat Marta Driscoll at 453.
Republicans had a four-seat majority and the mayor’s office going into Tuesday’s election. If the results hold, Republicans will get a two-seat gain.
Despite the seats earned at the county level, school board and municipal governing bodies, there was no progress made by Democrats in the following Republican-led communities: Aston, Bethel, Chadds Ford, Concord, Clifton Heights, Darby Township, Edgmont, Glenolden, Lower Chichester, Marcus Hook, Marple, Middletown, Newtown, Norwood, Prospect Park, Ridley Park, Ridley Township, Springfield, Thornbury, Trainer and Upper Chichester.
The Chichester, Garnet Valley, Marple Newtown, Penn-Delco and Ridley school districts also saw no Democratic advancement. Interboro has a 6-3 split favoring Republicans, but two Democrats, Justin Shivone and Glenn Goldsborough, benefited by cross-filing to earn more GOP votes while still running unopposed; Jack Evans was not up for reelection this year.
Chester Upland, Haverford, Radnor, Southeast Delco, Wallingford-Swarthmore and William Penn saw no loss in their Democratic-ruling representation.
Democrats didn’t lose out in Chester City, Chester Township, Colwyn, Darby, East Lansdowne, Lansdowne, Media, Millbourne, Rutledge, Sharon Hill, Swarthmore or Yeadon.
As of Wednesday afternoon, all election results are unofficial through the Delaware County Election Bureau. Official results will be released in the coming weeks that will include absentee, provisional and military ballots.