Kennett supervisor candidates offer differing visions

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League of Women Voters forum covers wide range of subjects


Democrat Richard Leff looks on as Republican James Przywitowski answers a question from the audience, during Tuesday night’s League of Women Voters forum for Kennett Township supervisor candidates.

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
KENNETT — With little in the way of bombast, the two candidates for Kennett Township supervisor spent much of Tuesday night’s League of Women Voters Candidate forum outlining their at time divergent visions for the future of the township.

Democrat Richard Leff and Republican James Przywitowski, both seeking to replace the retiring Michael Elling on the board, spent much of the nearly 90-minute session in a detailed, largely civil discussion of the issues facing the township in the coming years in front of an audience of more than 150 residents.

Much of the focus of the evening centered around the township’s surplus and the transparency of township operations, as both candidates answered questions pre-submitted by the audience and screened by LWV officials, but other subjects included trails, open space, sewers and the need for local police as well as the fate of Township Police Chief Albert McCarthy — and whether or not to end real estate taxes in the township.

“Our board regularly ignores the advice of many residents and makes most of its key decisions behind closed doors,” Leff said, noting one of his motivations for seeking office in the township.

Przywitowski, currently a member of the township’s Planning Commission, stressed his lengthy service to the township and experience in its operation. He noted while he maintained a cordial relationship with the board of supervisors, he did not always support their actions.

“I have had a respectful relationship with the previous boards of supervisors,” he said. “Respectful is the key word. It does not imply agreement.”

The entire forum can be viewed here:

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  1. Robert Listerman says:

    Did you read Matt Sabo’s response to Scudder Steven’s “opinion” on the type of misguided statements you are making herein as well?

    I would like to suggest you read it for yourself at the end of Supervisor Scudder Steven’s outrageous claim of there being a “shadow government” in Kennett Township.

    Here is the webpage reference:

  2. Michael Guttman says:

    Mr. Listerman, with all due respect to your own services to Kennett Township, nice try! Unfortunately for you, you have the unenviable task of having to defend the indefensible.

    Elling and Hammacker are indeed well-regarded – as the Keystone Kops of Kennett Township. A scandal ensues almost every time they open their mouths in public, a fact that cannot have escaped readers of this paper – or any other local publication, for that matter.

    The fact is that they long ago lost the respect to which they may once have been entitled. Their crowning moment was when they hired the infamous ‘Ed Johnson’, and then covered it up for the next two years, fighting furiously against conducting a real audit even after ‘Johnson’ was unmasked as a fraud. And that is just one example of their many years of blatant mismanagement and stonewalling, nowadays recorded on video and posted on the Internet for all to experience in its raw, unedited glory.

    Regardless of what you believe ‘people in the know’ are thinking and saying, Kennett Township’s voters have long ‘known’ better. The election of Mr. Stevens in 2011 by more than 60% of the vote quite conclusively showed the true sentiment of township residents. The last two years of Elling and Hammacker sandbagging most of Mr. Stevens’ honest attempts at reform have solidified that sentiment, no matter how many meetings you and Mr. Przywitowski may have kindly invited him to.

    I can certainly agree that Mr. Przywitowski fortunately does not have Mr. Elling’s sour, irascible demeanor, and I doubt he would be nearly as blatantly divisive as Supervisor. Had Mr. Przywitowski stepped out early in his campaign to completely repudiate the misrule of Elling and Hammacker, and promised to create a bi-partisan reform majority with Mr. Stevens, he might have had a fighting chance in this election.

    As it is, Przywitowski’s current half-baked, belated attempts to distance himself from the toxic Elling are simply window-dressing – way too little, and way too late – and won’t likely fool many of the voters. If my tea leaves are correct, they’ll be saying “thanks, but no thanks” to his years of silently enabling the likes of Elling and Hammacker.

  3. Michael Guttman says:

    As he clearly states in this video, Mr. Przywitowski is running primarily on ‘experience’ – the twenty-plus years he has served on various township committees. He also claims to be ‘his own man’ – an independent, non-partisan reformer who clearly speaks his own mind.

    But, unfortunately for Mr. Przywitowski, his claims of experience and independence cut both ways. For his campaign to be credible to voters, he needs to explain why, during his more than two decades of public service, he has never publicly opposed even one of the many bad decisions of our Board of Supervisors, even the very worst ones.

    We are not talking here about a few disagreements concerning ‘process’ in the committees where Mr. Przywitowski served. We are talking about the gross financial and administrative mismanagement that has sadly typified the actions of our Board of Supervisors for at least the last decade, and has made our township the political laughing stock of the local region.

    While concerned citizens stepped forward year after year, meeting after meeting, to publicly raise objections after objection to the consistently misguided actions of the Board, the ‘experienced’, ‘independent’ voice of Mr. Przywitowski’s was largely absent. Even when voters decisively threw out the incumbent Board Chairman, Alan Falcoff, and replaced him with a reform Supervisor, Mr. Stevens, Mr. Przywitowski stayed in the shadows. And when the remaining majority of Michael Elling and Robert Hammacker attempted to marginalize Mr. Stevens and those who voted for him, continuing their blatant misrule, Mr. Pryzwitowski still chose to remain publicly silent.

    Now, all of sudden, Mr. Pryzwitowski and his campaign team wants us to believe that he is really an independent, non-partisan reformer, and has been so all along. By the way, that campaign team – most of whom previously worked to elect Elling, Hammacker, and Falcoff – includes Mr. Listerman and Mr. Shelton, who commented above without identifying themselves as such. That’s hardly the dream team of an independent, non-partisan, reformer.

    Mr. Leff, on the other hand, carries no such baggage. His decades of well-documented public service may have been outside of township government, but in this election, that may actually be one of his major selling points. At this juncture, township voters have many reasons to be wary of a candidate who, like Mr. Przywitowski, spent his many years of ‘experience’ remaining publicly silent while township government – and township residents – suffered.

    • Robert Listerman says:

      Too bad Mr. Guttman and Mr. Duffy did not ask Scudder Stevens about Jim Przywitowski’s visit to his offices right after he won the election to help bridge the township. Nor do they know that just because Jim does not make any “public” outcry that he is in agreement with actions taken. He has had direct conversations with all the supervisors as needed. Remember in Jim’s own words from the debate about his “respect for the office of Supervisor?” You do not have to be a negative bomb thrower to get your message across. Jim will continue his leadership in the civil manner expected by our residents.

      I am personally engaged with other area municipalities through my membership on the Southern Chester County Chamber of Commerce Route One Committee. (By the way, this is the SCCCC committee I immediately invited newly elected Scudder Stevens to serve on with me once he won the election; and yes to your point Mr. Guttman, even though I was his opponent’s campaign chair.)

      This SCCCC committee works in partnership with the Chester County Economic Development people. Kennett Township is recognized by the CCED as well-respected and often pointed to as an example of good government. We are admired by those who really know what’s going on in our community. Recently I attended a meeting were State Representative John Lawrence made an unsolicited comment that “Kennett Township is known for how well their Planning Commission works with developers and residents alike.” This statement was not from a political talk, it was an off the cuff remark made sitting around the conference table. This was stated at the recent October 11, 2013 SCCCC Community and Government Relations Committee meeting held at Dansko’s corporate office in Jennersville. Everyone at the meeting showed agreement. PA State House Representative Lawrence is a neighboring district. So, I do not agree with Mr. Guttman’s claim that we are seen as being a “laughing stock” by other municipalities. Quit the opposite!

      When elected, Jim Przywitowski, will continue his respectful interchange with the other two Supervisors, township employees, our neighboring municipalities, and of course residents alike. We have enough bomb-throwing going on in Washington D.C. Let’s not bring that type of discourse to Kennett Township. Vote for proven leadership and decades of township volunteer experience by electing Jim “P-12” as our next Kennett Township Supervisor. Your vote for Jim is the best way to say “Thanks Jim!” for all your years of dedicated volunteer service to our township.

      Robert Listerman
      8+ year township volunteer

      • Joe Duffy says:

        Actually Bob I do recall a meeting with Jim Przywitowski, John Haedrich, and Scudder Stevens in which Hedrich and Jim told him of their dislike of the “aggressive” nature of his 2011 campaign (not the incumbent’s campaign behavior). They further went on to say that one or the other of them would be running in 2013 and they didn’t want that kind of campaign (losing?). I suppose they either flipped a coin or drew straws but apparently Jim lost and so became the candidate Tom Nale (party boss) would back.
        Mike Elling also filed to run for a forth term but was told by Mr. Nale that he was toxic and would not get any $ from his warchest of contributors. Mike then withdrew. So much for the burning desire to right the sinking ship of K T. by candidate Jim. He was candidate by default. I guess that explains why he didn’t run 6,or 4,or 2 years ago. Boss Nale would make his usual rounds to the Developers who do work in KT for $, like Steve Silver (Onix) and the other usual suspects who will likely seek favorable influence when the time calls. Mr. Silver has asked the board to demolish the Fussel House, a significant historic site for the Underground RR. My $ says he will get his wish, probably in Lame Duck session.

        You mention that Jim does not make public outcry but has direct conversations w/supervisors, which infers to us, the public, that these conversations occur behind closed doors. You also said he has “respect for the office of supervisor’. If he truly had respect for the office he would have made public comment about his concerns so that they could be corrected in the public forum under the Sunshine of the public. Has Jim ever asked the supervisors if they intend to repay the $40K illegally taken under the guise of medical insurance?

        End the nonsense! Vote for Leff for supervisor.

        Joe Duffy – Activist, 8 years Twp volunteer, veteran, committed citizen for reform and Leff Campaign member.

  4. Joe Duffy says:

    First, I am with the Leff Campaign. Secondly, I served as a volunteer for about 8 years on the Environmental Advisory Council (EAC) and received Recognition for my contributions. I did in fact, work w/ Mr. Przywitowski during that time as well as the Planning Commission. It was prior to Mr. Listerman and Mr. Shelton moving here. So I speak with full knowledge of the inner workings of Kennett Township and its Boards, Commissions and Committees. I also worked on the Stevens campaign which handed an incumbent supervisor a 61%-39% defeat.
    In that campaign, Jim P’s campaign Treasurer and former supervisor, Mr. Nale contributed $7,500 of his own $. And aside from being caught in a photo removing Stevens signs, violations to the Campaign Finance Reporting Laws both then and currently appear to be many. Also, aside from the Police Chief having been caught taking political signs in the Referendum campaign, Leff signs are continually being stolen and vandalized. While this is not petty, it is pathetic behavior.

    You recently held a $1,000 a plate fundraiser for the Fat-Cats and I’m sure they didn’t serve the Kool-Aid that is saved for the residents.
    Mr. Elling recently did a helicopter drop of $350K on 2 extremely poor Open Space Easements. Jim P. and T. Nale both members of the Land Conservancy Advisory Council (LCAC) did the evaluations that facilitated those bad deals for the residents. My experience on the EAC gave me the clear understanding that those evaluations were over-valued. Those 2 properties now prominently display Przywitowski signs. Draw your own conclusions!

    Jim P stated in the debate that the first thing he would do if elected is to repeal the Real Estate Tax. The Twp. Business Manager/ Treasurer stated at the 6 month report that the deficit is due to the R.E. Tax cut from Mr. Hammaker, she further has said that another tax cut will double the shorfall. Both Mr. Listerman and Mr. Shelton claim to be non-practicing CPAs, so I ask, do you think that is sustainable or irresponsible? Sounds like a bad idea to me, maybe just a way to get votes. Jim’s experience causes me to wonder, why has he been so silent so long? Why did he never run for supervisor during those 20 years? Answer- ‘he was still being groomed’.

    Dr. Leff speaks for himself as to why he will make an excellent supervisor for Kennett Township. He is honest, ethical, and is crony-free. View the video above to see those reasons. Also, visit his website for more on his positions.

    For a better Kennett Township —

  5. Bill Shelton says:

    I find it interesting that Mr. Duffy chose to not give you one positive reason to vote for Mr. Leff, While Mr. Listerman chose to tell you why “P-12” is the most qualified and proven independent candidate.

    Please ask yourself these questions about how you make personal decisions: If you needed surgery, would you intentionally select a surgeon with no experience? If you needed to have your car fixed, would you intentionally select a mechanic who has never worked on a car before? So then, why would you want a township supervisor who has no municipal experience whatsoever, when you also have a candidate with decades of proven service and independence?

  6. Joe Duffy says:

    Mr Przywitowski has always agreed with the Board of Supervisors, whether tacitly or by acclaim, he is the anointed successor of the good-ole-boys. If elected, residents can expect more of the same from him, business as usual.

    Joe Duffy

    • Robert Listerman says:

      Having served as a township volunteer for over 8 years now myself, 7 of which on the Planning Commission with Jim “P-12,” I have seen Jim in action. Mr. Duffy has not. There have been numerous occasions when Jim and the board did not agree. One specific example was the method of evaluating properties being considered for easement. Jim suggested changes that improved the process and other suggestions, to Jim’s frustration, were not adopted fully.

      As volunteers our job is to assist the supervisors with fact finding and technical or engineering reviews. We can only recommend, by state municipal statute, to the supervisors. Those recommendations can be accepted, modified, or rejected outright. So for Joe Duffy to imply that Jim Przywitowski is a shill for past supervisors is completely without knowledge of Jim’s respectful, yet independent, advisory role to them.

      Robert Listerman, CPA

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