Jan 6, 2020
Moskowitz first Democrat as Chesco chair
WEST CHESTER — Another page was written in the Chester County history books Monday as Democratic Commissioner Marian Moskowitz was elected as chairwoman of the three-member board, the first of her party ever to attain that distinction.
The selection of Moskowitz was unanimous, her nomination made by Republican Commissioner Michelle Kichline and agreed to by Moskowitz’s party colleague, Commissioner Josh Maxwell. Within moments, Kichline had also voted to approve Maxwell as vice chairman of the board.
“It’s very exciting,” said Moskowitz of her election as chairwoman, “I am very honored to be selected as chairwoman, and to work with such amazing people.”
Asked about her thoughts about the historical nature of the selection, Moskowitz — who has never held elective office until now and made her first countywide bid for election last year when a so-called “blue wave” sent each countywide candidate from the Democratic Party to the courthouse — Moskowitz was circumspect.
“It is very special,” she said, following the business of the county’s annual organization meeting, at which Row Office positions are approved, times and dates of meetings are set, and the names of county officers with financial powers detailed.
“It is a major change,” she allowed. “It is very emotional because it is a new day, and we now have other voices at the table. Change can be positive, and this is a positive change.”
The position of commissioners chair is largely a ceremonial one, carrying no special legislative powers such as a Speaker of the House or Majority Leader or an overarching executive authority such as President. The chairwoman will open meetings for business, call votes to approve contracts and make personnel changes, and recognize those who wish to speak from the audience.
But — as Kichline demonstrated in her years as the “center seat” at the commissioners’ table – the position carries with it the ability to use it to publicly boost county initiatives or mount a “bully pulpit” to highlight efforts such as the county’s war against opioid addiction. The position can carry with it whatever a person brings to it, within boundaries.
Moskowitz, 63, of Tredyffrin, pointed to this feature during the campaign, when she spoke about leading the county in efforts to address gun safety issues, even though the commissioners have no authority to legislate gun control law. She and Maxwell campaigned on making the county government more transparent and accountable.
To that end, on Monday the commissioners set a 2020 meeting schedule that includes evening sessions on April 30, Aug. 26 and Oct. 22, fulfilling the Democrats pledge to hold evening meetings to allow residents who work during the day to attend and see what the commissioners do. Other meetings are held at 10 a.m. in the county’s Administrative offices in West Chester.
Moskowitz, a businesswoman credited with creating the successful commercial and educational development known as Franklin Common in Phoenixville, appeared somewhat nervous in taking over the reigns of county government from Kichline. At one point she missed a date when a publication had appeared by four years — saying it occurred in 2015 instead of 2019 — and at another adjourned a meeting of the county Salary Board before a motion had been made to do so.
“Sorry, I’m just learning on the job here,” she joked after listening to some helpful advice from Kichline, the veteran on the board. Read more