Delaware County Democrats hoping to break the four-decade Republican stronghold on county government filed into The Inn at Swarthmore on Tuesday night upbeat from months of tough campaigning and an Election Day hindered by cold rain.
As their excitement grew, the numbers revealed flips in long “red” areas and races usually dominated by Republicans were deemed too-close-to-call by the time The Spirit went to press.
Joel Coon, campaign manager for County Council candidates Kevin Madden and Brian Zidek, was pleased that Democrats were over-performing in precincts where they usually struggled and that it was, “way too early to tell anything definitely” as of 10 p.m. on Tuesday night due to the number of outstanding precincts.
During the campaign he noticed how voters wanted change and it was evidenced in the Election Night flip of Rutledge, Nether Providence and Brookhaven.
“We are doing that across the county,” said Coon. “We have yet to see what is going to happen in the County Council race but the night is still young.”
The County Council race has been contentious with Democrats hoping to capitalize on the frustration with President Donald Trump. The real barbs were exchanged on the local level.
Madden/Zidek accused incumbent Councilman Dave White of profiting from county contracts through his company. White denied the charges and called them carpetbaggers with no real commitment to the county.
“Sometimes things are so bad, and even though the fight seems daunting, you have to fight the fight no matter what,” said Coon. “Delaware County needs change. It’s been ruled by Republicans in an abrupt pay-to-play scheme for 40 years. Voters want that to change and their voice is being heard. We see this in turnout numbers. We are over-performing. In precincts Republicans usually win by huge margins, they are barely winning. Republicans do have a strong machine here. They have engaged in a campaign of brutal lies…most of what they said went in one ear and out the other of voters. It’s challenging to see untruths of that nature go unchallenged.”
Janaya and Vernon Davis were seated with Janaya’s father and candidate for sheriff, Jerry Sanders.
“We feel very optimistic, hopeful and excited,” said Janaya. “We feel like we have had some strong support and good turnout. Hopefully, the numbers will show that. We had people during the past couple months say they are eager to support the Democratic Party.”
“When I went to go vote today there was a good turnout,” added Vernon. “I felt good and saw more signs out today than I did any other day.”
Jerry Davis noticed during his campaign that people are disgusted with extreme partisanship.
“I committed to speaking to both Republicans and Democrats and seeing them as representatives of the citizens not as Republicans or Democrats. I got a lot of agreement on that. People are fed up with it; it’s hypocrisy when you claim to represent people but won’t speak to someone else who makes the same claim.”
Candidate for Common Pleas Court judge, Kelly Eckel, throughout her campaign reported positive, energetic vibes. She said turnout was “tremendous.”
“People were energized by our slate and what we brought to the table in terms of background, skills, and experience,” commented Eckel. “Even when the weather turned sour people still came out. There were much higher numbers than anyone expected.”
Eckel admitted she didn’t have the name recognition of her opponent, District Attorney Jack Whelan, but said she brought a lot of other things to the table such as being an arbitrator.
“There’s a name recognition my opponent had. He’s been in Delaware County politics his whole life,” Eckel said. She’s lived in the county for 17 years and is a daughter of an Army vet.