Democrats in Collegeville sent a loud and clear message through yesterday’s Primary Election Results. That message is, “Collegeville Matters!” It matters to us who serves as a member of Borough Council. It matters to us who champions our community as Mayor. Our children matter and we are deeply invested in who serves as Directors of Perkiomen Valley School District. Reignited in part by catastrophic national election results of 2016, Collegeville Democrats have been on a mission, of resistance, insistence, persistence and enlistment throughout the winter and spring. A significant milestone was the Primary Election.
About 14% of registered Collegeville Democrats showed up at the polls yesterday. Only 7.2% of registered Republicans chose to vote. Democrats doubled the percentage of voter turnout of Republicans in this “Off Year” Primary Election. Few people saw this reversal in turnout rates coming. Historically fewer Democrats in Collegeville have turned out for the off year Primary. All of our candidates for Mayor and Borough Council received more than twice as many votes for their office of service than did any of their Republican counterparts. Our message of attracting new businesses, being a visible and available presence to all citizens, prioritizing partnerships and transparency in governance is resounding among our constituency.
From 7:00 A.M. yesterday morning until 8:00 PM last night, Aidsand “Ace” Wright-Riggins, Catherine Kernen, Marion McKinney, Mathew McKnight and Shannon Spencer met with Democratic and Republican voters outside of Saint Eleanor Parish, Trinity United Church of Christ and Borough Hall listening to their hopes and dreams and responding to their concerns for Collegeville. After the polls closed, the candidates joined with our Municipal Chair, Andrea Baptiste and campaign volunteers at Da Vinci’s Restaurant to toast and celebrate the evening’s victory and the hard work of the scores of Collegeville Democrats who made the success possible.
The Collegeville Borough Council can serve its citizens best by reinstating its Business Liaison Committee and by partnering with and funding the Collegeville Economic Development Corporation (CEDC). Many residents are puzzled as to why the Borough Council did not feel it was important to support their Borough businesses and terminated the funding to the CEDC almost four years ago. A strong and stable business and economic base in Collegeville helps lower property taxes for residents, ensures higher property values for homeowners, and increases the overall quality of life for our families and visitors.
Businesses such as Sears, Acme, Subway, Radio Shack, and the Wine and Spirits Shoppe have left our borough. Many smaller retail entities are also long gone. The Providence Town Center and the revitalized business and Main-Street shopping districts in Phoenixville, Skippack, and surrounding areas are steadily siphoning off our disposable residential income, and the robustness of their business districts continue to threaten potential Collegeville-based businesses. It appears that convenience stores and gas stations are becoming the most visually defining businesses in Collegeville.
Still a wonderful place to live due to well-maintained and welcoming neighborhoods, the presence of Ursinus College, and our progressive Collegeville Police, many people are beginning to question if due to the erosion of its business district that this family-friendly, historic and walkable community has totally lost its luster. Re-establishing a proactive Business Liaison Committee which works to keep businesses in Collegeville and partners with the CEDC to attract new businesses is the least the Borough Council could do to stem the tide and work toward revitalizing our business district.
For Collegeville Borough to be a viable business competitor in 2017, businesses must be recruited that define our Borough business district as a true destination. With Providence Town Center’s Big Box stores, we see our marketing niche as attracting Mom and Pop unique specialty stores, such as artisan cheese and other food shops, cookware, clothing and other boutiques, delis, and family and high end restaurants, among others.
We also are fortunate to have Ursinus College in Collegeville, and Brock Blumberg, the President of this 1,500 student campus, is moving to provide summer programs open to both the community and students year round in order to attract more student- and resident-focused businesses to Collegeville Borough.
The Borough Council could go one step further by establishing a “Business Development Commission.” I would nominate Cathy Kernen, the only Democrat on the Collegeville Council for this Commission, and I believe that in addition to other Council Members, the commission could include residents of the community and small business owners. Individuals with exemplary skills and background in business, marketing, communication and other areas could help us create a vision for the future of Collegeville Borough. Establishing such a commission would be a positive step in demonstrating that the viability of the Collegeville Business District really does matters to the Borough Council.
Many people mistakenly believe that the Collegeville Economic Development Corporation (CEDC) is a subset or function of the Collegeville Borough. Not so. While the CEDC was created by members of Ursinus College, Collegeville Borough Council and the local community in 2003, the Collegeville Borough Council itself has long since abandoned funding the Corporation and significantly partnering with it.
The CEDC has a compelling vision. That vision is to promote the Collegeville Business District as a destination, enhance and promote social and economic connections between Ursinus College and the Business District, promote the accessibility and character of Collegeville and encourage family-related and visitor activities. I am aghast that the Borough Council would sever synergistic connections and energies with members of this community and Ursinus College. It is clear to me that without a business and economic vision and the will to pursue it, the borough businesses will slowly perish.
Currently, our Borough Council and the Planning Commission must make an important decision regarding the attractiveness and business sustainability of our community:
This opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer dated April 19, 2017 by John Baer highlights the growing budget deficit in PA. Although states have a mandate to balance their budgets every year, many do not. Truth in Accounting, a non-profit which provides citizens with understandable government financial information, states that PA’s actual fiscal deficit is $74.2 billion. As Democrats, we believe that it is the responsibility of those we elect to public office to be responsible stewards of our tax dollars. Yet, our state representative and senators seem more focused on their own slush fund, which now totals $118 million in reserve accounts, an increase of $18 million over the previous year at a time of state fiscal crisis. – Cathy Kernen, Collegeville Borough Council Member
A Times-Herald article addresses studies which show racial bias in funding and how it directly affects each of us. us. It states that the larger a school district’s white population, the greater its state funding per student. Also, the PA school funding formula is biased against districts that are growing, vs. more rural districts where the population is shrinking. The story quotes PA House Rep Tom Quigley (R-146) who says that if the funding formula was changed to a fixed amount per student, Pottstown’s funding would increase 74 percent, Spring-Ford would increase 26 percent, and Perkiomen Valley would increase 22 percent.
Also notable is where most states fund 50% of the money that their school districts receive, this amount has been cut to 33% in PA thanks to our Republican legislators. That is why our school taxes are so high.
To see the full article, click here
As Tax Day comes around, many of us are thinking about just how hard it is to make ends meet. It seems that too often there is too much month left for our paycheck to stretch out that far. Historically, Democrats have been particularly concerned about those who are on the lower end of the economic pay scale and how they fair. You may be interested in what our Party Platform has to say about that.
Democrats believe that the current minimum wage is a starvation wage and must be increased to a living wage. No one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty. We believe that Americans should earn at least $15 an hour and have the right to form or join a union and will work in every way we can—in Congress and the federal government, in states and with the private sector—to reach this goal. We should raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over time and index it, give all Americans the ability to join a union regardless of where they work, and create new ways for workers to have power in the economy so every worker can earn at least $15 an hour. We applaud the approaches taken by states like New York and California. We also support creating one fair wage for all workers by ending the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers and people with disabilities.
Democrats support a model employer executive order or some other vehicle to leverage federal dollars to support employers who provide their workers with a living wage, good benefits, and the opportunity to form a union without reprisal. The one trillion dollars spent annually by the government on contracts, loans, and grants should be used to support good jobs that rebuild the middle class.
— Aidsand “Ace” Wright-Riggins, Candidate for Mayor of Collegeville Borough