CF GOP honors Wandersee

After 10 years on the school board, nine years on the Chadds
Ford Zoning Hearing Board after 10 years as a supervisor in Pennsbury Township,
one might think Ed Wandersee has learned a few things about public service. He
thinks so, too.

Wandersee stepped down from his positions on the school and
zoning boards this spring after moving to Penn Township and no longer meeting
the residency requirements for those positions.

Paul Koch was appointed to a full time position on the
zoning board and Gregg Lindner was appointed to serve the remainder of this
year as school board director. But last Thursday night the Chadds Ford
Republican Party honored Wandersee with a night for him.

Wandersee graduated with a degree in engineering from
Northwestern University and received a master’s degree from the Wharton School
of the University of Pennsylvania.

While he has seen many changes in Chadds Ford, what stands
out, he said, is that “change has not been as dramatic here as it has been in
other locations. I think that’s a remarkable accomplishment.”

He credits that lack of dramatic change to supervisors and
members of the ZHB.

One of the things he found “fascinating” about being on the
zoning board is that the board has “a strong influence on the direction
[townships] take on many little ways in terms of maintaining the rigidity of
the ordinances.”

Wandersee said he’s learned during his time serving the
pubic that it’s vital to really listen and to be friendly.

“Being able to meet people, being able to genuinely have a
conversation about the issue which concerns them,” he said.

Wandersee said that’s particularly important when it comes
to the school board.

“When a parent calls up, really emotionally distressed or
having a serious problem, you have to have the patience to listen to them and
to try to find a solution and to understand what it is they’re trying to get
at. It’s about making the human connection.”

Wandersee stressed the need for that connection: “That’s
most important. If anybody wants to get into any kind of local, municipal
politics [you need] that human connection.”

He quoted former Houser Speaker Tip O’Neil saying that all
politics is local, adding, “That’s really true.

And what has a life in public service taught Wandersee? It
helped him find his political stripes.

“I think I have learned, without a doubt, to be more
patient. And maybe to more fully comprehend the issue as other people see it.”

He said he’s become more moderate when it comes to social
issues, more fiscally conservative when it comes to financial issues.

“I’m fiscally conservative, socially moderate,” he said.
“[People] need to be more understanding.”

Wandersee didn’t point to any specific achievement, but
several speakers did.

Township solicitor Hugh Donaghue, serving as master of
ceremonies for the evening, said Wandersee was single-handedly responsible for
keeping Chadds Ford Elementary School open.

After the school board voted to shift to four elementary
schools, K-5 each, there was some talk of backing down from that idea, going to
just three schools and closing CFES.

Donaghue said that Chadds Ford is the only Delaware County
township in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District and that, on several
occasions, the district has tried to shut down “our local elementary school.”
Thanks to Wandersee’s efforts, Donaghue said, CFES has been able to stay open.

(Chadds Ford 
Elementary School is located in Pennsbury Township, Chester County.)

Traci Plunkett, from state rep. Steve Barrar’s office, read
a state house citation in honor of Wandersee’s years of voluntary service.
Donaghue read a similar citation from state Sen. Dominic Pileggi.

Mary Kot, leader of the Republican Party of Chadds Ford,
spoke of Wandersee’s dedication to the school board, and told one story about
how he calmed her down after some problems with busing.

She said her son was attending Hillendale Elementary School
at the time, when all fourth- and fifth-grade students in the district went to

Kot said the students living in the Unionville area would
catch the bus to go home after school, but that Chadds Ford students had to
wait until those buses returned to the school before the other students could
go home.

“The Chadds Ford students just had to sit there and wait,”
Kot said. “As a distressed mother and as PTO president, I called Ed. Within the
week, everybody was leaving at the same time.”

Several dozen people attended the night for Wandersee,
including candidates for township and county offices in November’s general

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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