MacQueen wins only other contested race for County Controller
By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times
WEST GOSHEN — Although it was clear that “unity” was the theme of the evening, for a brief moment Thursday during the Chester County Republican Committee’s endorsement process for Court of Common Pleas judge, it was unclear whether the process might turn into an old-school, bare-knuckle political battle for the nod at Fugett Middle School.
GOP county chair Val DiGiorgio stressed the need to make endorsements — and said the party’s 2012 performance showed the value of its unity. But with two prominent and strongly supported candidates for one spot, Judge, Court of Common Pleas: Assistant District Attorney Patrick Carmody and former Prothonotary Allison Bell Royer, that unity could have been put to the test.
“This committee is unbeatable when we’re united,” DiGiorgio said, noting how the party delivered for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, local members of the U.S. Congress and state legislators in 2012, despite some doubt that it could. “Unity will make us. We will do this together.”
DiGiorgio made it clear that he thought it was crucial for the party to make clear endorsements, to prevent Democratic candidates Anthony Verwey and Julia Malloy-Good from cross-filing (judicial and school board candidates typically file for both party’s nominations) and stealing the GOP nomination on the November ballot.
While most of the races were uncontested, it was clear the battle for the Judge of Court of Common Pleas endorsement looked to be heated prior to the vote in the packed school auditorium. Prior to the vote, supporters of Carmody and Royer worked the 400-plus committee members in the room, searching for last-minute votes.
But in the end, with Carmody vying with Royer and Leonard Rivera, a Kennett Square attorney, for the final endorsement slot (Jeffrey R. Sommer was endorsed by voice vote earlier in the evening), the drama lasted all of one ballot. Carmody received 235 votes on the first ballot, just seven short of the total needed to clinch the nomination. Rivera, who got just seven votes was eliminated under the county party bylaws, leaving just Royer in contention — and she opted to step aside, citing the need for party unity. Carmody was ultimately approved by voice vote.
“I’m proud to be running with Jeff (Sommer) and I’m proud to be associated with everyone in this room,” Carmody said, specifically noting Royer’s graciousness in stepping aside for the sake of the party.
Royer, who also sought the nomination in 2011, pledged to both strongly support Carmody, but be back again in two years.
Sommer, who was endorsed by voice vote, is a partner in the West Chester law firm of Buckley, Brion, McGuire, Morrison and Sommer.
The lone other contested race, for County Controller, featured candidates Norman MacQueen and Gail Newman, with McQueen winning by a comfortable 306 to 107 margin.
The only other newsworthy event was DiGiorgio introducing Dr. Gordon Eck — a replacement for current county Coroner Dr. Steve Dickter, who decided only in the last couple weeks not to seek reelection due to his work at an out-of-state Veterans Administration Hospital that has been keeping him out of the county one week a month. Eck, who has never sought political office before, pledged to reduce his hours in his private practice to be able to devote more time to serving as Coroner. He said he thought that consoling the living was a key part of the job and one he hoped to place additional emphasis on if elected.
Elsewhere, Republicans renominated Ann Duke for another term as County Treasurer, while Robin Marcello was nominated to replace the retiring Frank McIllvaine as Clerk of Courts.
MacQueen is currently a member of the Willistown Board of Supervisors and works as an investment advisor.
Marcello, a banker with Wells Fargo, is currently Vice Chair of the Penn Township Board of Supervisors.
Eck is an M.D. in family practice in Elverson.