Photo via Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-2.0.
With a surge in young voter turnout and particularly high consequences as the last local election before the presidential race in 2020, the Nov. 5. general election stood out among others as one to watch. Not only were more than a few offices up for re-election across Pennsylvania, but the tempestuous political climate led some long standing partisan districts and positions to set historic records.
Most notably, Democratic candidates won every county level race in Chester County, upsetting a purely Republican lineage of several offices dating back to the Civil War.
The “blue wave” spreading through Philadelphia’s suburbs has been increasing in size and intensity since the 2016 election of Donald Trump. Chester County was not alone in the unprecedented number of wins by the Democratic party. In the neighboring Delaware County, a campaign based around extensive anti-Trump messaging took Democratic candidates to win all five county council seats.
By winning 43 of Chester County’s 73 municipalities, Democrat DA-elect Deb Ryan became the county’s new District Attorney, beating out Republican candidate Mike Noone. With this election, Ryan became not only the first Democrat, but the first woman in Chester County’s history to be elected to the office of District Attorney. “I’m really proud of the campaign we ran,” said Ryan in an interview following the election. “We did a positive, clean campaign. We just promoted my experience and shared my vision for a different and better office, and I think that resonated with voters.” The long-time prosecutor rose to election on a campaign based on a variety of key points with Democratic voters, notably the Mariner East II pipeline that runs within a few miles of West Chester University.
With this election, Ryan became not only the first Democrat, but the first woman in Chester County’s history to be elected to the office of District Attorney.
Former State Trooper Fredda Maddox took over the position of County Sheriff from a two-decade string of Republicans. Endorsed by West Chester-based State Senator Andy Dinniman, Maddox ascended from a position as the first woman of color to serve as PA State Trooper to a practicing attorney, finally winning the office of County Sheriff over Republican hopeful, Jim Fitzgerald. Maddox, who defeated three other Democrats to earn the nomination, will replace retiring County Sheriff Carolyn “Bunny” Welsh, a devoted Donald Trump supporter and longtime sheriff.
The campaign messages for several Democratic candidates surrounded Trump, especially in Delaware County, where signs everywhere read “Had Enough TRUMP? FLIP DELCO.” The progressive wave sweeping the Philadelphia area goes deeper than the Nov. 5 election. 55% of registered voters in Delaware County registered under the Democratic Party, compared to the 5-1 Republican majority of voters in the mid 20th century.
While the unprecedented win has given Democrats much to celebrate, the newly elected members of county government say they will waste no time getting down to follow through on campaign promises. “There’s a lot of great stuff going on in this county; we have a great county,” says newly elected Chester County Board of Commissioners member, Democrat Marian Moskowitz. “We can just build on that and make us an even better county.”
Brendan Lordan is a third-year student majoring in English writing and minoring in journalism. BL895080@wcupa.edu