Move to oust of­fi­cial fiz­zles

Coun­cil­man mov­ing back to his ward

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Eric Devlin ede­vlin@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Eric_Devlin on Twit­ter

PHOENIXVILLE >> A spe­cial meet­ing of Phoenixville Bor­ough Coun­cil that was pre­vi­ously de­scribed as a “witch hunt” ended with more of a fiz­zle than a bang.

The meet­ing, which lasted about six min­utes, was held to con­sider declar­ing a Mid­dle Ward seat va­cancy. The move came fol­low­ing Repub­li­can Coun­cil­man 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 and cur­rently lives in the 100 block of Starr Street, ac­cord­ing to pub­lic records ob­tained by Dig­i­tal First Me­dia, and which Kuz­nar con­firmed Sun­day.

It was those very records Kuz­nar dis­trib­uted to coun­cil that ap­pear to have saved Kuz­nar from los­ing his seat.

At the start of the meet­ing, coun­cil Pres­i­dent James Ko­valeski an­nounced Kuz­nar gave pho­to­copies of the doc­u­ments to ev­ery mem­ber of coun­cil that proved he had re­turned to live in the Mid­dle Ward. Among the doc­u­ments in­cluded a lease agree­ment to his new ad­dress in the Mid­dle Ward dated Sept. 22; an email from the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of State On­line

Voter Regis­tra­tion web­site con­firm­ing the Chester County Voter Regis­tra­tion Of­fice had re­ceived his up­dated voter regis­tra­tion ap­pli­ca­tion dated Sept. 22, which in­cluded his change in ad­dress; and a pho­to­copy of his new driver’s li­cense update is­sued Sept. 22 by Penn DOT, which also in­cludes the new ad­dress.

“Given that, it’s my opin­ion that we don’t have a va­cancy,” Ko­valeski said. “The

pur­pose of tonight’s meet­ing is moot be­cause we don’t have a coun­cilor liv­ing out­side of his ward.”

Ko­valeski said Kuz­nar proved his res­i­dency and he ap­pre­ci­ated him get­ting that in­for­ma­tion to the rest of coun­cil ahead of sched­ule.

Be­fore the crowd of about 50 peo­ple in at­ten­dance for the meet­ing, Mayor Michael Speck thanked the res­i­dents for com­ing out to get in­volved with bor­ough govern­ment.

“Although it’s not 100 mil­lion peo­ple here tonight like the num­ber ex­pected

to tune into the de­bate tonight,” he be­gan, “it’s good to see so many mem­bers of the com­mu­nity ac­tively in­volved and par­tic­i­pat­ing in the bor­ough govern­ment.”

Kuz­nar also thanked the au­di­ence for its sup­port.

“I do ap­pre­ci­ate you par­tic­i­pat­ing in the govern­ment work,” he said. “I strongly look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to serve the Mid­dle Ward in Phoenixville. I love this bor­ough and I can’t thank you guys enough for com­ing here to help me. Thank you,” he said fol­lowed by a loud ap­plause. He would later

shake hands with many com­mu­nity mem­bers who con­grat­u­lated him.

Coun­cil­woman Cather­ine Do­herty ended the meet­ing by thank­ing Kuz­nar for pro­vid­ing his up­dated in­for­ma­tion.

“I’m so glad it all worked out for you,” she said. “And con­grat­u­la­tions.”

Fol­low­ing the meet­ing, Coun­cil­man Ed­win Soto of­fered his thoughts on the con­tro­versy, crit­i­ciz­ing coun­cil Vice Pres­i­dent Dana Dugan for her com­ments made Sun­day. Dugan called the meet­ing “a witch hunt,” adding she was

ap­palled that so many on coun­cil, specif­i­cally Ko­valeski and Coun­cil­man Jonathan Ewald, were play­ing par­ti­san pol­i­tics to try to oust Kuz­nar from his seat.

“In the last meet­ing coun­cil in­structed the so­lic­i­tor to get his le­gal opin­ion on whether or not the bor­ough would and could (future wise) be held li­able for any ac­tions of a coun­cil mem­ber that ad­mit­tedly has not lived in his ward,” he said in an email. “That ac­tion was to pro­tect the bor­ough, not to start ‘a witch hunt.’ Ms. Dugan’s re­marks frankly ap­palled

me and did a dis­ser­vice to this com­mu­nity. Her in­ter­pre­ta­tion of coun­cil ask­ing the so­lic­i­tor for his le­gal ad­vice was lit­tered with un­founded ac­cu­sa­tions, as ev­i­denced by the out­come of tonight’s meet­ing.”

In re­sponse, Dugan said all of her com­ments were true and they helped lead to the meet­ing’s short run time.

“They sent us all home be­cause they re­al­ized what they had done and I called them out on it,” she said. “I’m very happy with the out­come of the non-meet­ing.”

ERIC DEVLIN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Phoenixville Bor­ough Coun­cil­man Michael Kuz­nar talks to res­i­dent Lisa Longo af­ter Mon­day night’s spe­cial coun­cil meet­ing. The meet­ing was held to con­sider oust­ing Kuz­nar from his seat.

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