The presidential election may be over, but the fervent energy that is local politics continues to go strong. The Pennsylvania Municipal Primaries are fast approaching on May 16, and one local politician is hoping to make an impact on her community.
Dianne Herrin is running as a Democratic candidate for Mayor of West Chester, and she is hoping to connect with the community as much as she can before the primaries in mid-May.
As the partner and vice president of Practical Energy Solutions, Herrin has been working within the greater Philadelphia area to build relationships with the community members for nearly a decade.
Former West Chester Mayor and current State Representative Carolyn Comitta asked Herrin if she had considered running almost two years ago, but Herrin was unsure due to her workload at the time. After the results of the presidential election were decided last year, Herrin knew that she wanted to step up and do more to spark change in her community. Herrin decided to run in January and enlisted Kevin Carson—President of the West Chester University College Democrats—to manage her campaign and start to figure out the next steps towards victory.
Herrin and Carson have been meticulously knocking on doors to cover every ward in West Chester in hopes of meeting the residents and getting feedback in return. For Herrin, the interpersonal connections she makes with the residents are crucial to getting inspiration for her campaign.
“The community fuels ideas for change,” she said.
Door-knocking has also proven to show some challenges that West Chester has as a borough, namely the economic disparity from one ward to another. For Herrin, as a potential local political figure, she hopes to create more equity in ways that would truly impact the community. One of the ways to create more equality is through the cooperative business model.
“I joined the board of the West Chester Food Cooperative because the co-op has a mission to serve all members of the community, and the profits go back to the community,” she said. “Business models like the food co-op can boost local economic power and help address inequity.”
Choosing the slogan “Protect, Preserve, Prosper” was key in showing the community of West Chester what Herrin would provide as mayor. As mayor, Herrin’s primary assigned duty would be administrative oversight of the police department in order to better protect the neighborhoods. Preserving the historical and environmental aspects of the borough would be an essential part of Herrin’s campaign, as would promoting the prosperity of West Chester’s local economy.
Another central topic Herrin would tackle is the town/gown relationship between the borough and the university. As a resident of the borough for nearly 17 years, Herrin has seen first-hand an opportunity to bridge the community and West Chester University into a more tight-knit entity. Knocking on doors has helped to amplify the importance of the town/ gown topic for Herrin.
“I think it would be wonderful if we could institute a greater sense of pride in our neighborhoods, and in the fact that West Chester is a diverse and vibrant town that offers great cultural opportunities for everyone,” she said. “I think that might help us come together and address some of the issues that some of our residents experience.”
Bridging the gap between the town and the university would, in part, be an exercise in showing off the best that both sides have to offer, but all change starts with small steps.
For the next two weeks, Herrin will continue to knock doors and campaign around the borough in hopes of making more connections with the community members. If you’re looking to volunteer, get more information about Herrin’s platforms or attend one of her campaign events, you can “like” the Dianne Herrin for Mayor page on Facebook or visit herrinformayor.com.
Rachel Alfiero is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with minors in Latin American studies and Spanish. She can be reached at RA806657@wcupa.edu.