Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Candidate Facts

The Candidates Forum is tomorrow night. (Thursday, 7-9 pm at The Centre Theater). The election is November 5th. To help you prepare, here are some facts about our council candidates.

One open seat on council is for a 2-year council-at large office. The seat was vacated by Dwayne Roster last summer. Cy Burke was appointed by council to fill the remaining months of 2013. The two candidates for this seat are Olivia Brady and Mary Ellen Early-Digregorio.
Olivia Brady is running as a Democrat. She grew up in Merion, but has lived in Norristown much of her adult life. She works as Assistant Director for the Montgomery County Democratic Committee in Norristown and lives in the West End. Olivia served on Council from 2000-2003, was Council President in 2003, then resigned to run for State Representative, which she lost by only 4 % of the vote. She attends many meetings at Municipal Hall and many events in town, plus serves on the board of the Norristown Preservation Society, and is active with the Women's Leadership Initiative and Community Gardens.

Mary Ellen Early-DiGregorio is running as a Libertarian. She grew up in Norristown and lives in the East End.  She describes herself as a housewife, caretaker, and volunteer mobile notary public at Montgomery County Hospice. In the past she's been an administrative assistant, fundraiser and engineer assistant. Mary Ellen attends nearly every council meeting and many of the zoning meetings, and occasional events in town.


Two seats are open on Council for 4-year council-at-large offices. Running for them are Marlon Millner, Derrick Perry, and Sue Soriano.

Marlon Millner is the Democratic incumbent, elected in 2009. His first term ends Dec. 31, 2013. He's been a resident of Norristown since 2007, with a house in the North End. His Linked-In page lists him as "Freelance Communications Provider Communications, Digital Media and Consulting Services." He says he writes a local column in a local newspaper, though I only found 4 opinion pieces in the last year for The Times Herald. He does not list his Council office on his Linked-In page, nor does the word "Norristown" appear anywhere on it.  He also, since August 2012, serves as pastor of McKinley Memorial Baptist Church in Willow Grove. He has separate Facebook pages for his pastorship and his office on council . Neither mentions the other or his freelance work.

Although council members are supposed to rotate through the office of Council President, serving one year each, Mr. Millner declined to serve as president in 2013 when it was his turn, so Mr. Simpson served a 2nd year. Mr. Millner is often seen texting on his phone during meetings. He's tweeted comments during meetings and has even left the room to take phone calls, missing votes. He is rarely seen at zoning or planning meetings and never at town events.

Mr. Millner is the only council candidate not to RSVP for the forum tomorrow. When the coordinator of the forum tried to ask him about it in person last night, he looked right at her, then walked out of the room without saying a word. He did this in front of 4 witnesses, of which I was one.

In 2011, Council censured Mr. Millner for alleged ethics violations.

Derrick Perry is running on the Democratic ticket. He grew up in Norristown, attended Norristown public schools, and now lives near Elmwood Park. His Facebook page lists his as an Educated Steel Worker at ArcelorMittal in Conshohocken. He's very active with One Love Club, youth sports, and Special Olympics. He attends occasional meetings at Municipal Hall. You can see him at nearly every town event.

Sue Soriano  received the most GOP write-in votes last primary, and so became the Republican candidate. She immigrated to the US from the Dominican Republic in 1985 and now lives in the West End. Sue is a Senior Database Adminstrator for Diversified Software and the Board of Directors' Secretary for Hopeworx, Inc. on Stanbridge St. She's active in NC3BT (Norristown Community and Cops Coalition Building Team) and is an officer of the Greater Norristown Hispanic Business Association. She was appointed to the Montgomery County Commission on Women and Families Committee. She RSVP'd her regrets for the forum because she'll be out of town that day.

So there are our council-at-large candidates. Come to the  forum and ask the candidates attending about issues that concern you.

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