Official: Special meeting a ‘witch hunt’
Borough council may vote to oust member who moved out of his ward
PHOENIXVILLE >> Phoenixville Borough Council Vice President Dana Dugan didn’t mince words when describing the agenda for Monday’s special council meeting. “This is a witch hunt,” she said. The meeting is being held at 7 p.m. to consider declaring a Middle Ward seat vacancy. This comes following Republican Borough Council member Michael Kuznar’s announcement during the Sept. 13 meeting that he was forced to move out of his apartment in the Middle Ward in June.
Kuznar said at the time he had been temporarily living with a friend in the East Ward but planned to move into a new place in the Middle Ward in October. He has since moved back the Middle Ward ahead of schedule, he confirmed Sunday.
“I find this appalling,” Dugan said, adding Kuznar’s situation was similar to an emergency evacuation. “What if there’s a flood or fire and you have to live with friends?”
Dugan, a Democratic Republican on council and Chester County Democratic Committee member, described the intent of the special meeting to be “100 percent partisan.” She said she was going against the opinion of other council members because she doesn’t play partisan politics. She blamed council President James Kovaleski and council member Jonathan Ewald, both Democrats, for spearheading the effort. The Middle Ward, she said,
is typically represented by a Democrat and the two men along with others on council were trying to remove Kuznar, so they can replace his seat with another Democrat.
Kovaleski was unable to be reached for comment. Ewald said he was unavailable to comment.
By holding the special meeting, council was adding insult to his injury, Dugan said. “Forcing one of only two Republicans out, that is just horrible.” Council member Jon Ichter II is the only other Republican on council.
Dugan said she didn’t fear losing her seat for speaking her mind because there are many residents on both sides of the aisle in her ward that appreciate the work she does.
According to section 901 of the Pennsylvania State Borough Code, there are several reasons to declare
“In politics, it’s kind of like the workplace. You have to be as nice to everyone as you can because you have to work with them. To the best of my knowledge these people found what they saw as a chink in the armor and zeroed in on it. They’ve made a mountain out of a molehill.”
a vacant seat on council including death, resignation or termination of residency from the borough, or from a ward in the case of a ward office, or by failure to take the required oath. While the ruling opinion will be up to Solicitor Charles Garner, an argument could be made that by formally announcing he had left his home inside the Middle Ward, Kuznar vacated his seat on council. If that’s the case, then council would have 30 days to fill that vacant ward seat.
Kuznar reiterated Sunday he’d gotten his residency situation under control and like Dugan, compared the situation to that of an emergency. In his own research he said a person must show intent to move back to their ward. He added this situation has been exaggerated and is just politics as usual.
“In politics, it’s kind of like the workplace,” he began. “You have to be as nice to everyone as you can because you have to work with them. To the best of my knowledge these people found what they saw as a chink in the armor and zeroed in on it. They’ve made a mountain out of a molehill.”
Republican Borough Councilman Michael Kuznar announced he had temporarily moved out of the Middle Ward in June but would be moving back in October. He has already moved back ahead of schedule.