Sunday, October 25, 2009
Who is Bill Scandone and Why is He Running for New Hope PA Borough Council?
Last week, Bill Scandone left a flyer in my mailbox asking for my vote in the upcoming New Hope PA Borough Council election. Four seats are up for grabs this November, and for the first time in quite a while, it appears the Republicans have a full slate and are going to give the four Democratic incumbents a run for their money. Bill's one of the Republican upstarts this year, not that "Republican" or "Democrat" mean that much in a small town like New Hope.
The thing that caught my eye about Bill's flyer was that he listed his email address and phone number on it. Now, it's not unusual for smarter candidates to campaign door to door in the closing weeks of local elections, and to claim they want to "listen" to constituents' views, but they don't usually leave a personal calling card: firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-595-6304.
So I emailed him, and he agreed to meet and talk about the campaign. I had seen "Scandone" signs around town, and had also heard there might be actual competitive races in the upcoming elections. Rumors have also abounded that a couple of high-ranking local politicos are promoting a candidate to depose one or more incumbents, partially motivated by last spring's bloodless coup in Borough Hall.
There's two things I learned about Scandone fairly quickly: he is actually listening to people, and he is running a serious campaign. When I met him, he'd already spent the morning at a local diner shaking hands by the front door.
A former head of International Compensation and Benefits for Pfizer, Scandone, 62, lives on Kiltie Drive, likes dogs, goes bicycling, knows lots about fixing the bike path that runs along the Delaware Canal. Bill had been President of the New Hope-Solebury Education Fund, where he helped raise money for worthwhile local teaching initiatives.
I asked whether he's aligned with any group or individuals involved in the Borough's opposing factions and alliances, and he said he's running because "I wanted to do more, to give back to the community."
"After speaking with those involved in Borough Council and the New Hope-Solebury School Board," says Scandone, "I felt I could be more impactful on Borough Council. I believe in the concept of social responsibility," he added. "I intend to be a public servant to this community, and I don't know if that's happening now."
One key element of Scandone's plank seems to be a concern for "revitalizing the downtown."
Says Bill, "There's many stores and galleries closed, and when they close, there's a snippet of the identity of New Hope that is lost."
I asked him why he felt residents should theoretically be concerned about the welfare of local shops and businesses. Replied Scandone, "As a resident I feel I have a vested interest [in the business community]. There has to be a balance. At the end of the day what you don't want vacant shops."
Scandone is not opposed to franchised businesses, as long as their identity meshes with that of New Hope, and he is especially interested in seeing more restaurants and galleries. Admittedly, his economic proposals do not appear overburdened with specificity at this point, but his basic approach is clear enough: he has lots of experience in negotiating and consensus building and believes he can bring the right people together to start "spreading the good word about New Hope."
"New Hope is at a crossroads and could be eclipsed by other places, and New Hope could financially lose out," he continued.
"I've got the time. I've got the experience. I really am committed to this."
Sure does seem to be the case. The weeks ahead will certainly hold unexpected twists and turns, but this much is for sure: Bill Scandone seems like a serious contender.