Newly sworn-in Democratic County Council members wasted no time making their voices heard at last Tuesday’s reorganization meeting.
Questioning the status quo, Brian Zidek wondered why John McBlain was nominated to be the Council’s new chairman and not Colleen Morrone, who had previously served as vice chair and has the most seniority of the five-member group.
“It is a position… I was not looking to step into at this point in time. I felt the most qualified person to lead us at this time was John,” answered Morrone.
Both Zidek and Kevin Madden lauded Morrone’s contributions to the county and experience but expressed disappointment in her decision.
“This would have been a great opportunity in this new era of bipartisanship to have a vice chairman from the other side,” said Madden.
Council voted unanimously in favor of McBlain and voted 3-2 in favor of Morrone, with Zidek and Madden voting no.
The meeting had a tenuous but respectful tone as Madden and Zidek both mentioned how Council welcomed them and said it was eager to hear the new members’ ideas.
During the appointment of members to the Retirement Board for a two-year term, Zidek wanted to know the background of the board before voting.
“It’s no secret what my past experience and qualifications are, you can take notice of them or not. I don’t feel the need to repeat my resume or qualifications,” answered McBlain.
“My view of someone serving on the Retirement Board is the someone with experience managing investment portfolios,” said Zidek, who recommended Madden and his own experience managing investments.
“I do not manage investment portfolios nor is that the job of the trustee to specifically manage them,” said McBlain.
Previously, Madden was vice president of KPS Capital Partners, a family of investment funds with approximately $5.5 billion in assets under management. Zidek’s experience lies in his experience as president of Excess Reinsurance, a national company and a leader in the self-funded medical reinsurance industry.
The appointment of members to the Retirement Board was approved 3-2 with Madden and Zidek voting no.
During closing comments, McBlain and the first Democrats on Council in decades expressed their hopes and attempted to clear up misconceptions.
“It is your first time in government as well as Madden’s and we look forward to you both bringing perspectives from outside of government,” said McBlain. “It’s been a pleasure to work with you thus far. Many people have remarked to me, ‘there is change in Delaware County.’ Yes, there absolutely is. Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is an opportunity to broaden our thinking. We welcome it.”
Zidek made a point to address a rumor circulating that people who worked for the county would be fired by him and Madden.
“I feared it revealed a sentiment that Kevin and I had some agenda to replace anyone and everybody with our own friends. That is not the case. I recognize the vast majority of people who work for the county are hardworking folks,” said Zidek.
Added Madden: “I am immensely honored to be in this room serving with you. What could have been perceived as a threat, I didn’t experience. What I experienced was something that I had hoped, which is opportunity to advance the county. It takes courage to stand up and say we are in the seats for the benefit of the community not the benefit of the party. First and foremost, like Brian said, our job is to be as informed as we can with every vote we take.”