Move to oust official fizzles
Councilman moving back to his ward
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.”
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.