Din­ni­man, Lon­don square off

They are vy­ing for Din­ni­man’s 19th District Pa. Sen­ate seat in the Nov. 8 elec­tion

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Adam Farence afarence@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @afarence on Twit­ter

WEST CHESTER >> State Sen. Andy Din­ni­man, D-19, of West White­land, and his Repub­li­can chal­lenger Jack Lon­don squared off dur­ing a heated de­bate Sun­day af­ter­noon at bor­ough hall.

The de­bate started shortly af­ter 2 p.m., and took place in front of about 100 peo­ple. Din­ni­man won the coin toss, so he de­liv­ered his open­ing state­ment first, speak­ing broadly about his back­ground.

In his open­ing state­ment, Lon­don at­tempted to tie Din­ni­man to in­creas­ing prop­erty taxes and the state pen­sion is­sue, two points he would re­peat­edly re­turn to through­out the de­bate. He also said Din­ni­man was “in the pock­ets” of unions — a state­ment Din­ni­man de­nied.

Din­ni­man largely re­but­ted Lon­don’s claims by stat­ing he was se­lec­tively choos­ing is­sues, and ar­gued that many of these prob­lems oc­curred un­der Repub­li­can Gov. Tom Cor­bett.

On is­sues about pub­lic edu- State Sen. Andy Din­ni­man, D-19, of West White­land, de­bated his Repub­li­can chal­lenger, Jack Lon­don, at West Chester Bor­ough Hall Sun­day af­ter­noon.

cation, Din­ni­man talked about his work in re­vis­ing the fair fund­ing for schools. Lon­don, an Avon­dale res­i­dent, said the pen­sion sys­tem needed to be re­formed be­fore pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion could get taken care of, which he crit­i­cized Din­ni­man for his role in.

Next, the de­bate moved into dis­cus­sion about unions, par­tic­u­larly the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice (FOP). Din­ni­man said he re­ceived an en­dorse­ment from the FOP, while Lon­don said the FOP was “noth­ing more than an­other union,” and that his own pre­vi­ous ser­vice as a po­lice of­fi­cer proves his “com­mu­nity ser­vice goes deeper than any en­dorse­ment.”

On elec­tion re­form, both can­di­dates called for an end to ger­ry­man­der­ing, the prac­tice of draw­ing leg­isla­tive district lines ac­cord­ing to con­cen­tra­tions of Repub­li­cans and Democrats to help one party stay in power.

When ques­tions about the en­vi­ron­ment were asked, Lon­don called to move away from coal and other fos­sil fu­els and into a more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly sys­tem, in­clud­ing pre­serv­ing open space, but he did not of­fer specifics.

Din­ni­man re­it­er­ated the same broad state­ments, and said both par­ties are not mov­ing for­ward ap­pro­pri­ately. His cited his work with open space pro­grams, say­ing they have al­ready pre­served 26 per­cent in the county, and have a goal to pre­serve 33 per­cent.

When ques­tioned about reg­u­lat­ing busi­nesses such as Sunoco when they un­der­take large projects such as lay­ing pipelines across the county, Din­ni­man talked about cre­at­ing a process to li­cense Sunoco agents in hopes they will treat res­i­dents bet­ter, and de­fend cit­i­zens against emi­nent do­main.

Lon­don spoke broadly about bal­anc­ing leg­is­la­tion of big busi­nesses, so they can still con­tinue to grow but still pro­tect the cit­i­zens. He did not of­fer specifics.

Lon­don lam­basted Din­ni­man

later in the de­bate about the Down­ing­town train sta­tion fol­low­ing a ques­tion from the mod­er­a­tor about it, say­ing the sen­a­tor promised im­prove­ments that never hap­pened.

Din­ni­man re­sponded by talk­ing about his work with the Paoli and Ex­ton train sta­tions, and said that an an­nounce­ment about the Down­ing­town train sta­tion should be com­ing in a few weeks from the Penn­syl­va­nia De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion.

When a ques­tion was asked about how to help vol­un­teer fire sta­tions suf­fer­ing from a de­cline in vol­un­teerism and in­creased de­mands placed on fire sta­tions be­cause of de­vel­op­ment in the county, Lon­don high­lighted a need to in­cen­tivize av­er­age cit­i­zens to vol­un­teer. He said one way he would do that would be by of­fer­ing vol­un­teers tax cred­its.

In his an­swer, Lon­don cited pen­sion re­form as one hur­dle nec­es­sary to help the fire de­part­ments and crit­i­cized Din­ni­man for not do­ing more. Din­ni­man then took his al­lot­ted time to re­spond to Lon­don’s crit­i­cism in­stead of talk­ing about fire de­part­ments and what can be done to help them.

On term lim­its, Din­ni­man said it was up to the cit­i­zens to de­ter­mine if politi­cians should have term lim­its. Lon­don said he sup­ports them, and term lim­its rep­re­sents what the Found­ing Fa­thers had in mind when they wrote the con­sti­tu­tion. Mem­bers of the com­mu­nity come for­ward and serve their time in of­fice then re­turn to the com­mu­nity, Lon­don said.

Lon­don also called Din­ni­man, who has been a state sen­a­tor since 2006, a “ca­reer politi­cian.”

When asked about House Bill 1538, leg­is­la­tion al­ready passed in the House that would al­low pub­lic of­fi­cials to with­hold the name of a po­lice of­fi­cer who uses force in an in­ci­dent un­til the con­clu­sion of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Din­ni­man said he sup­ported the bill. He added that with­hold­ing the in­di­vid­ual’s name helps pro­tect his or her or fam­ily un­til the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete.

Din­ni­man’s en­dorse­ment by the FOP came up again, which is where he ref­er­enced Lon­don’s ear­lier “noth­ing more than an­other union” comment, and called it an “in­sult.” Lon­don at­tempted to down­play the en­dorse­ment.

“The po­lice chiefs as­so­ci­a­tion didn’t even call me for an in­ter­view,” said Lon­don, who also made no men­tion of House Bill 1538.

At one point dur­ing the de­bate fol­low­ing a break­down in deco­rum, mod­er­a­tor Su­san Carty said to Lon­don, “I’m the one in charge here.”

Ques­tions about abor­tion came up, where Din­ni­man said he is pro-choice. Lon­don said he is pro-life, ex­cept in cases of rape, in­cest, or where the mother’s life is threat­ened.

At an­other point dur­ing the de­bate, both Lon­don and Din­ni­man held up photos of them­selves that their op­po­nents used in at­tack mail and ads against each other, call­ing the prac­tice “body-sham­ing.”

Lon­don, an award-win­ning pow­er­lifter and body­builder, held a news con­fer­ence be­fore the de­bate where he crit­i­cized Din­ni­man’s at­tacks on him be­ing a body­builder and said he wanted to de­bate the is­sues.

In an email state­ment af­ter the de­bate, Din­ni­man wrote, “Un­flat­ter­ing pic­tures are an un­for­tu­nate part of po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns.

My op­po­nent has put plenty of neg­a­tive and dis­torted photos of me out there. If we’re se­ri­ously go­ing to dis­cuss the is­sue of body image in a mean­ing­ful way, it needs to hap­pen out­side of a po­lit­i­cal cam­paign.”

One of the few points where Din­ni­man and Lon­don agreed with each other was that poll work­ers should not come from out of state.

The 19th Sen­a­to­rial District in­cludes sev­eral mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in Chester County in­clud­ing At­glen, Avon­dale, Coatesville, Charlestown, Down­ing­town, East Brad­ford, East Caln, East Fal­low­field, East Not­ting­ham, East White­land, Elk, Franklin, High­land, Lon­don Bri­tain, Lon­don Grove, Lon­don­derry, Lower Ox­ford, Malvern, Modena, New Gar­den, New Lon­don, Ox­ford, Parkes­burg, Penn, Phoenixville, Sads­bury, Schuylkill, South Coatesville, Tredyf­frin, Up­per Ox­ford, Val­ley, West Brad­ford, West Chester, West Fal­low­field, West Grove, West Marl­bor­ough, West Not­ting­ham, West Pike­land, West White­land and West Sads­bury.

ADAM FARENCE — DIGITAL FIRST ME­DIA

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