The appearance of diametrically opposed sides and the tension of how it was all going to play out almost made the visit of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Gov. Tom Wolf an afterthought Saturday.
As a flatbed truck sat in the middle of Veterans Square Saturday afternoon, the scene was mostly quiet until about 10 minutes before the elected officials were anticipated to arrive.
That’s when a throng of about 60 people rounded the corner and made their way near the stage.
They held signs held high on sticks, reading, “Don’t you have a budget to pass?,” “A creep in a Jeep,” “Non-profits deserve to be paid,” “Do Not Raise our Taxes” and “Can I please have my book?”
One person who declined to identify himself except to say he was a “wolf” in sheep’s clothing held a sign saying, “I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff and I’ll Blow Your School Down.”
Before the rally began, Democrats began putting their “Womack, Reuther and Booker” and “Judge Christine Donohue for Supreme Court Justice” signs on metal lawn holders before hoisting them up in the air.
As the protesters took positions around the truck, Sharon Booker, a Sharon Hill councilwoman and a Democratic county council candidate, waved at them and said, “We love you. We love you.”
There were flare-ups among the group with both sides trying to vocalize their perspectives, but peace was maintained.
“This is unusual,” Media Mayor Bob McMahon said when instructing the crowds to move back from the stage. “This is everybody’s hometown. We all get along … We want everybody to be heard. This is a rally and … everybody is our guest today.”
Even the guests of honor, who arrived an hour late, couldn’t resist recognizing the political diversity in the crowd.
“Well, I’ll tell you, Delaware County is alive and well,” Casey said to applause. “This is democracy. Wow. This is great.”
The governor, who received a mix of cheers and boos, shared his own similar sentiment.
“This is about democracy,” he said. “We want a fair interplay of ideas. That’s what this is about.”
For David Landau, chairman of the Delaware County Democratic Party, the show of opposing views represented a change.
“It’s great to be in Media today,” he said to loud applause. “I want to welcome everybody out here today. You know, 20 years ago, which is a long time that I’ve been doing this, nobody really cared about the Democratic Party or when we had a rally in Media, so it’s really nice to welcome our opponents here today.”
He personally acknowledged his Republican counterpart, Andy Reilly, and the three Republican County Council candidates, Michael Culp, Colleen Morrone and John McBlain.
“Isn’t that great?” he said of their attendance Saturday. “We have run a great campaign and we’re taking it to them and we’re going to win on Nov. 3.”
The Republican County Council incumbents are opposed by Democrats Booker, Richard Womack and Christine Reuther in Tuesday’s contest.
Before the hoopla began, Mary Ellen Jones of Havertown talked about why she was there to oppose the gubernatorial visit.
“I think it’s important for him to know that we are all paying high taxes,” she said. “Instead of raising taxes,he needs to prevail upon the Legislature to cut spending.”
Holding a sign reading, “Governor Wolf Taxed Enough Already,” she said cuts could be made by embracing pension reform and making reductions in corporate welfare and prevailing wage laws.
“In a nutshell, they just need to stop spending money,” Jones said. “They’re taxing us into oblivion.”
As her sign stated, “Higher taxes are bad for Pennsylvania,” Kristine Dick of Media said the governor should be focusing on doing his job not making election pleas.
“I just want him to pass a budget,” she said. “I basically feel that it’s time. He shouldn’t be here campaigning. He should be back up there. I don’t feel like he’s helping Pennsylvania right now.”
Lisa Esler, a Penn-Delco school board member who waged an unsuccessful write-in campaign for the 161st District seat in the state Legislature, said Wolf needs to run the state more like a business.
“We pass a budget every year on time and submit it to the state,” she said of the school board.
Esler said Wolf needs to cut spending, waste, fraud and abuse, as well as unfunded mandates to school districts rather than raising the expectations for taxpayers to fund programs and services.
“He knows how to run a business,” Esler said. “He knows what you have to do. I just want fairness. I just want people to do the right thing. I want him to do the right thing.”
To read the entire article by Kathleen Carey, please click here.