By Charlotte Hummel
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the elected and appointed members of the Lansdowne Democratic Committee for selecting me as the new Chairperson, especially in the year we celebrate our 20th Anniversary of Lansdowne Democratic leadership of local government.
Prior to 1997 and dating back to our incorporation as a Borough in 1893, local government was under the majority (and sometimes exclusive) control of the local Republican party. It was only in the early 1990s that the first Democrat was elected to serve as a Borough Council person. By 1997, with the establishment of the Lansdowne Leader, increased activism by the loyal opposition, and growing awareness by the citizens of the borough, local Democrats were awarded a majority of seats on Borough Council, the Mayor’s office, the Constable position and one of three Auditor positions. Since that time, the members of the Democratic party have worked hard to lead the borough in a progressive direction, maintain open and accountable government and pursue an agenda that is welcoming to diverse populations and progressive ideas.
I am proud to be one of the founding members of the Lansdowne Leader editorial board where I served as managing editor for over ten years. I also served as Borough Auditor (elected in 1997), served a two year stint as an appointed member of Borough Council where I chaired the Community Relations Committee and led the rebuilding of Hoffman Park after Hurricane Floyd. Since that time I ran (unsuccessfully) for State Representative (1998) on the platform of equitable funding for public education and in 2001 I was elected to the William Penn School District Board where I have served for nearly 16 years.
Since taking a majority of Borough Council seats in 1997, Lansdowne Democrats have pursued an agenda welcoming to diverse populations and progressive ideas.
As we begin plans to celebrate our 20th Anniversary of success in Lansdowne, I think back to how I got involved in politics in the borough. And, ironically, I have the Republican party to thank for motivating and inspiring me to public service. Just prior to the 1993 Centennial Celebration of the Borough, I offered to a friend to work pro bono for the borough to help organize the various activities that were to take place. I had recently finished law school, married and was expecting our first child. I had recently stepped down from my position as full time executive director of a non-profit organization in Philadelphia and frankly, I was looking for something to do.
In making the offer to help, my friend arranged for me to meet with the mayor. A great guy with a lot of love for Lansdowne, Jack Rankin was warm and welcoming. He heard my qualifications and arranged a meeting with the centennial leadership committee which was made up mostly of Lansdowne’s elected officials and civic leaders. At that meeting, among other things, I was asked if I was working to help raise funds for a Democratic Congressional candidate. I admitted I was. I was then politely told that my services would not be needed, that the celebration was more of a “mom and pop” type operation and they wished me well.
Needless to say, that pretty much was the beginning of the beginning. Not only did I join the local Democratic party and run for office, but I also worked behind the scenes to help raise over $40,000 for the establishment of the Borough Green, a centerpiece of the Centennial Celebration. Just think, if the local GOP had accepted my offer to help in the non-partisan celebration, I may not have ever been involved in local politics.
I am happy to be back in a leadership position of the Lansdowne Democratic Committee as we prepare to celebrate our 20 years of open and accessible government. Let’s make it a good year of involvement, civic activism, volunteerism and celebration. Remember to vote on May 16th!