All eyes on state Senate campaign
Republican Jack London is up against Andy Dinniman, the county’s lone Democratic state legislator
The race for Pennsylvania’s 19th state Senatorial District is pitting a political newcomer, Republican candidate Jack London, against a man who has held elected office for more than two decades, Democratic state Sen. Andy Dinniman.
London, 48, is a businessman and former police officer with no prior political experience. He said he has seen what’s been going on with politics at the state and federal level, and he believes career politicians aren’t getting things done, and people feel they’re not being represented, so as a regular guy with real-world experience, he wanted to try to help.
Dinniman, 72, is a former Downingtown School Board member and former West Chester University professor who served as a county commissioner for 15 years before he won a special election for the Senate seat in 2006, marking the first time in more than a century that voters in the county elected a Democrat to represent them in the state Senate.
London said some of the issues he wants to focus on in the Senate are pension reform, liquor privatization and education funding, as well as preserving open space and protecting the environment. He said he also wants to find ways to fight the crisis of opioid addiction and reduce the strain between the community and law enforcement, and he can bring a unique perspective to addressing these issues, since he’s a former police officer.
Dinniman, who is the minority chair of the Senate Education Committee, said education is
an important issue in front of the Senate right now. He said he has fought hard against the Keystone Exams, and he believes the answer to improving education won’t come from more standardized tests. He said many schools are still teaching a curriculum designed for an industrial age that no longer exists, but schools need to start preparing students to be successful in the new economy by teaching them how to utilize technology and gain the ability to identify and solve problems. Dinniman said Pennsylvania has an unprecedented opportunity to align its education system with the new economy and its needs, because under new federal regulations, each state needs to define its educational goals.
London said taxes must be reformed, and the state can’t keep going back to the public to ask for more money, but instead it needs to be productive with what it has. He said he likes to bring people together to work in a bipartisan fashion, but that’s not happening enough in Harrisburg right now.
“We need to come together to solve the issues that are important to people in Pennsylvania,” he said. London said legislators have been talking about eliminating the property tax for years, but it’s time to get something done. “People are being driven out of their homes in the county because they can’t afford it,” he said.
On the matter of taxes, Dinniman said he is part of a bipartisan coalition, led by eight legislators, trying to eliminate or hopefully significantly reform property taxes. He said he’s probably one of the only legislators in Chester County who voted to end property taxes, but the total vote ended in a tie, which equates to a loss in the state Senate.
London said he understands the pain of average people who are just trying to pay their mortgages and make enough money to be able to send their kids to college.
“At the end of the day … I want to give people someone to believe in who will tell the truth and work hard for the people in this county and in this state,” he said.
Dinniman said when he sees a problem, he goes to the community to talk about the problem, and then brings the community together to solve it. He said that over his last 20 years in public service, he’s come to know thousands of people from all over the county, and he truly has been and will continue to be an independent voice in the county.
“I don’t have to report to the Republican Party or the Democratic Party,” Dinniman said. “In Harrisburg if you look at my votes, I really do vote with both parties. I vote in the interests of the citizens.”
London currently lives in Avondale with his wife, daughter and three rescued cats. He has previously lived in other states, including Delaware, Florida and California. He owns and operates the London Financial Group and he previously served as a law enforcement officer with the Warminster Police Department in Bucks County. London has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Temple University. He is also an award-winning powerlifter and bodybuilder.
Dinniman grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, and he moved to Chester County in 1972 to complete his doctorate in education at Penn State University. He also holds a bachelor of arts from the University of Connecticut and a master of arts from the University of Maryland. He lives in West Whiteland with his wife, and they have one adult daughter.
The 19th Senatorial District covers areas in the southern and western parts of Chester County, including Oxford and Coatesville, as well as areas in the central and eastern parts of the county, including West Chester, Malvern and Phoenixville. Polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 8. Each term for state senator lasts four years.
State Sen. Andrew Dinniman, D-19