All eyes on state Se­nate cam­paign

Repub­li­can Jack Lon­don is up against Andy Din­ni­man, the county’s lone Demo­cratic state leg­is­la­tor

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - Fol­low Dig­i­tal First Me­dia staff writer Lu­cas M. Rodgers on Twit­ter @Lu­casMRodgers and on Face­book at www.face­book.com/ lu­casmrodgers.

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.

Jack Lon­don

State Sen. An­drew Din­ni­man, D-19

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