Op/Ed: Township and principle over party

For generations, every member of my family, on both sides, has voted for Democrats. I have been left with no choice but to break with that tradition in this year’s election and vote for the Republican running for Kennett Township Supervisor, Geoffrey Gamble. My entire immediate family, and an increasing number of other loyal Kennett Democrats, are doing the same.

I must put the well-being of Kennett Township first, before my party. During my recent primary campaign, running as a Democrat against incumbent Whitney Hoffman, I shared many concerns about how Kennett is being managed but nonetheless resolved to continue my support for Kennett Democrats and Hoffman in this election. At least until the Board of Supervisor’s recent meeting.

As I prepared for this meeting by reviewing the proposed 2022 budget, I was shocked by the ease with which this administration is putting off critical capital investments in roads, sewers, and township buildings. For every dollar set aside in the 2022 budget for these expenses, at least one to two more dollars in known expenses are pushed off into the unfunded future… not to mention at least five to 10 times that amount in expenses that supervisors know will be incurred over the next three-10 years but have not bothered to plan for. In short, under the current leadership, our township is fast approaching a fiscal cliff.

During Wednesday night’s budget discussion, Hoffman, her fellow supervisors, and the township manager barely blinked at accelerating increases in personnel costs over two years — more than 30 percent in police, 70 percent in planning, and on and on. Yet last year, Kennett had to delay replacing a $30,000 garage door because of “budget tightening.” If she is re-elected, Hoffman will continue this pattern of reckless spending, until there is nothing left to spend.

I have also learned that you dare not question these budget proposals. At Wednesday night’s meeting, when I expressed my concerns that Kennett was not setting aside funds for those expenses, Kennett’s budget director immediately reprimanded me. She could barely conceal her anger, accusing me of being insensitive (in this case, to the efforts of township employees to close the gaps). While a fellow resident stormed out of Wednesday night’s meeting in disgust, Hoffman had nothing to say. If she is reelected, Hoffman will continue to turn a blind eye to employees whose behavior anywhere else would be cause for serious concern, if not immediate dismissal.

Finally, I also have to put principle before party, because of Hoffman’s brazen efforts to rewrite the facts about Lisa Moore’s theft. This past weekend, Hoffman launched a remarkable rebranding campaign, targeting Democrats with mailers and posts, less than two weeks after humbly standing before Township residents to announce Lisa Moore’s guilty plea. In this campaign, Hoffman credits herself with ‘uncovering long-standing fraud dating back to 2011, even though the fraud was in fact discovered by the township’s bank, which then notified the supervisors. Hoffman takes still more credit because she “fought to bring the former township manager to trial.” Hoffman does not apparently feel that she had any duty to rectify a massive fraud made possible by her negligent supervision. Many Township residents are, like me, still furious about the theft, and so I felt compelled to publicly challenge Hoffman’s brazen claims at Wednesday night’s meeting.  Again, Hoffman had nothing to say.

I am very glad to have had the opportunity to meet with Geoffrey Gamble several weeks ago, and we have spoken several times since then. I did not come away from our conversations believing that we will agree on everything. But I did come away convinced of his honesty, his willingness to listen to us, and his commitment to keeping budgets – and employees - under control. I believe that he will work hard to maintain our critical infrastructure and preserve our beautiful open spaces. I believe that Geoffrey Gamble – not Whitney Hoffman –can get the job done. That matters to me more than loyalty to any party. And that is why, this election, I am voting for a Republican.

Peter Doehring
Kennett Township

Peter Doehring is a former Democratic Primary Candidate for Kennett Township supervisor.

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