Chester Republicans introduce their slate of candidates
Chester Republican Committee Chairman Shepard Garner last Saturday introduced the endorsed candidates who will be running in the May 21st primary election.
Candidates include Shakirah Randolph and Garner for Chester City Council; Jeannette Smith, Eric Carroll, Shakuwra Randolph, and incumbent Virginia Pilkington for Chester Upland School Board; and incumbent Dawn Vann, running to retain her position as Magisterial District judge in region 32-1-21.
Prior to introducing the candidates, Garner called it “refreshing” to see new faces enter the public arena.
“We have a very diverse group this year and that’s important,” he said. “The administration in office now is not inclusive. I believe our slate of candidates will provide more inclusion. We will include everyone. This is about serving the entire city and not just a small group.”
Garner also encouraged voters to investigate all of the candidates to make certain they are who they profess to be.
“Make sure when you go to vote, do your homework,” he said adding, “Make sure each candidate actually resides where they say they live. Once you make sure they live where they say. then you go on and vote for the person and the experience they have. Check out the background of those who are running.”
Garner, who served one term as a Chester councilman, was director of streets and public improvements and spent the last two years of his term as director of finance.
He is employed as a staff accountant at Delcora.
“I believe the previous administration did a wonderful job, especially with the finances of the city,” said Garner. “We put the city financially where it needed to be. We made huge strides, but we know there is more to do… I’m running because I want this community to be a good, safe place for families to raise children.”
Shakirah Randolph said she envisions Chester as a place where young people want to return to their roots.
A 2007 graduate of Chester High School (CHS), Randolph earned a bachelor’s degree from Johnson C. Smith University and currently works at Wells Fargo as a personal banker.
“I was offered a lot of job opportunities in Charlotte, but I wanted to come back to Chester,” said Randolph. “Our political leaders have to make people want to come back and make Chester a livable and loveable city.
“It’s important to learn new things to bring back to the city. I want to be looked upon not as a politician, but rather as a public servant. Sometimes our leaders are biased. I’m here to serve everyone,” she said.
Carroll, a CHS graduate who currently works as an inspector with the Delaware County Housing Authority, is also a volunteer coach with the Chester Biddy League.
“When presented with the opportunity to run for school board, I could not turn it down,” said Carroll. “My outlook is that the city lacks a lot of positive role models, so I accepted the challenge. I try to lead by example. I go to work every day and try to be a stand-up guy.”
Smith, also a CHS and West Chester University graduate, is currently a third grade teacher at the Chester Community Charter School.
“I am not a political person and I’m running for school board to help the children of Chester,” said Smith.
Shakuwra Randolph, the school board hopeful and sister of the Council candidate, graduated in 2006 from CHS, earned a degree in sociology from Lincoln University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in special education and urban education from Cheyney University.
Randolph said she wants to serve on the school board because she has a passion for children in general, but especially for children of Chester.
“People may look down on Chester, but I have always been proud to say I’m from this city,” said Randolph. “I came back because my heart is here. I cannot see myself anywhere else. I really have a love for my community and believe our candidates have what it takes to make a difference in our community.”
Pilkington, an incumbent school board member, was unable to attend Saturday’s event.
Vann, who is Chester’s first African-American female Magisterial District judge, has served in that capacity for the past six years.
“I am blessed to have had a lot of support and encouragement from my constituents,” said Vann. “I serve humbly, compassionately and fairly. When it comes to being a magisterial district judge, you have to be fair, and I know that if you come in front of me you may not have liked the way I wear my hair or the shoes I have, but you know one thing for sure and two things for certain: I have been fair and that is the bottom line. I also live in my jurisdiction, and that’s important.”