Delaware County voters have a lot of reasons to do something all too many of them fail to do - exercise their basic civic right by casting their ballots in the off-year municipal election.
Only a sliver of voters will trudge to the polls on Nov. 5 and select candidates for Delaware County Council, two seats on the Delaware County Common Pleas Court, county row offices of sheriff, controller, and register of wills, as well as local municipal and school governing bodies.
In years past, this alarming lack of civic pride was steeped in the knowledge that the end result was a given - victories at the county level for the powerful Delaware County Republican Party. So great was the political divide that Delco Democrats often failed to even field candidates for some county offices.
Those days appear to be over. Invigorated by a surge in voter registration, Delaware County Democrats come into this off-year election in some very rare air - as the majority party in the county. Will that slight, 664-vote edge end decades of dominance in the county courthouse? Only if the Democrats are successful in doing something they have not been able to do before - mimic the Republican Party's ability to actually get their voters to the polls.
The good news greeting voters at the polls this year is the excellent crop of candidates fielded by both parties for county offices. The truth is that voters will likely be well-served regardless of whom they back.
But if nothing else, we highly recommend they do one thing in particular. It is the best reason we've seen in a long time for voters to ensure they get to the polls in the off-year election.
Meet Steve Chanenson.
He's one of two Democrats seeking the two seats up for grabs on the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.
Resumes like the one toted by Chanenson don't come down Baltimore Pike every day. The Radnor resident has spent the last 13 years as a law professor at Villanova University. He is the chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, appointed by three different governors of both parties. The commission sets statewide sentencing guidelines. Before that, he was a federal prosecutor in Chicago. This is his first run for public office.
Why would he give up his law school gig to work in the county courts? Because he not only wants to make a difference, he wants people to actually understand the law. He vows to bring an independent voice to Media.
We urge voters to make sure he gets that chance.
As for the other seat being contested, voters would be well-served by any of the three candidates in the race. Republican Rich Cappelli is the longtime magisterial district judge in Concord. He has 21 years of experience behind the bench and has worked seven years as a master in juvenile court.
Republican Bill "Chip" Mackrides is no stranger to Delco political circles. He's practiced law for more than three decades and is the vice president of the Delaware County Bar Association.
Democrat Nancy Walker is a newcomer to Delco politics. She brings with her an impressive background with 21 years of experience as a litigator, specializing in labor and employment law.
In the race for county sheriff, Republican Mary McFall Hopper faces off against Democrat Rocco Polidoro. Hopper brings a wealth of experience as an attorney and is also the first female member of the Ridley Park Borough Council. Polidoro, a Springfield insurance agent and longtime thorn in the side of the local GOP, wants to push a community corps of veterans to help the sheriff's department and make it more difficult to get gun permits. But we're troubled by his insistence that he would flout the law when it comes to those permits.
The Republican Hopper is the clear choice in this race.
In the race for Register of Wills, we commend both Democrat Frank Daly and Republican Jennifer Maddaloni Holsten for their stance that they would enforce the laws on the books, as opposed to the reckless move taken by their counterpart in Montgomery County in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite a state statute that bans such acts.
Daly, who served three terms as Media mayor, has background both as an attorney and in accounting. He has extensive experience in the key work of the office, wills and estates.
Holsten, a political newcomer from a family with a long record of political service in the county, wants to develop written policies and procedures that would avoid the kind of problem that occurred when a worker in the office was charged with skimming thousands from the coffers.
Daly's experience gives him the solid edge in this race. We endorse the Democrat.
In one of the most intriguing races, Democrat David Boonin is challenging incumbent Republican Controller Ed O'Lone.
Boonin has been the point man in one of the main Democratic themes of this campaign season - the fact that the county relies on fiscal audits, but does not do a management audit of county government. In his first run for political office, he firmly believes he could save the county money. The downside to that is how he would pay for it, especially if the Republican-dominated county council declined to fund it. His idea to seek outside funding is fraught with problems. But the management audit idea is a sound one.
The Republican O'Lone says he "takes his role personally" in being the eyes on the county books. He also handles the books for Marple Township.
We're intrigued enough by Boonin's push for a management audit to give the Democrat the edge in this race.
Friday: Our choices for Delaware County Council.
Emphasis, Delaware County Democratic Committee's.