Po­lit­i­cal an­nounce­ment in school causes a stir

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

A po­lit­i­cal ad mis­tak­enly an­nounced in a pub­lic school has strained ten­sions in the 156th District race.

WEST GOSHEN >> A po­lit­i­cal ad mis­tak­enly an­nounced in a pub­lic school last week has strained ten­sions in a con­tested race for the 156th Leg­isla­tive District.

Last Thurs­day at West Ch­ester East High School, an an­nounce­ment ask­ing for vol­un­teers for West Ch­ester Mayor Carolyn Comitta’s state House cam­paign was read to the stu­dent body.

Comitta, a Demo­crat, is chal­leng­ing in­cum­bent state Rep. Dan Truitt, R-156, of East Goshen, for his seat on the state Leg­is­la­ture.

The an­nounce­ment, ac­cord­ing to West Ch­ester Area School District Su­per­in­ten­dent Jim Scan­lon, was read ac­ci­dently and the in­ci­dent is be­ing ad­dressed in­ter­nally. He ac­knowl­edged air­ing po­lit­i­cal an­nounce­ments is against school pol­icy.

“That was shut down im­me­di­ately,” he said re­fer­ring to the an­nounce­ment.

Comitta said her cam­paign is un­der­tak­ing an out­reach pro­gram to cul­ti­vate sup­port from po­ten­tially sym­pa­thetic groups, such as high school Demo­cratic clubs. She said she did not know how the out­reach in­vi­ta­tion wound up as a school wide an­nounce­ment, and re­grets that it hap­pened.

“It was a mis­take,” she said. “It was never in­tended to be an an­nounce­ment.”

At­tempt­ing to cast doubt on Comitta’s cam­paign, Truitt said that if he did such as a thing there’d be an outcry. He called the in­ci­dent an ex­am­ple of po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns “push­ing the en­ve­lope in in­ap­pro­pri­ate ways.”

“We don’t cross that line,” he said. In ref­er­ence to the

school ad­min­is­tra­tors, he said he be­lieved the mis­take was in­no­cent and that he was glad they pulled the an­nounce­ment.

“Push­ing what en­ve­lope? We’re push­ing to run a strong cam­paign,” Comitta said in re­sponse to Truitt’s crit­i­cism.

“If my op­po­nent did that, I’d be up­set too,” she said, ex­press­ing un­der­stand­ing of Truitt’s frus­tra­tion with the er­ror, but also re­in­forced her cam­paign was only try­ing to reach out to groups that might be in­ter­ested in sup­port­ing her cam­paign.

The 156th District in­cludes the West Ch­ester, East Goshen, West­town, Thorn­bury and Birm­ing­ham. Parts of West Goshen are in­cluded in the district as well.

Comitta has been mayor of West Ch­ester since 2010 and is cur­rently serv­ing her sec­ond term. Truitt has been a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive since 2010 and cur­rently serv­ing his third term.

State Rep. Dan Truitt

PETE BANNAN — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

West Ch­ester Mayor Carolyn Comitta an­nounces her can­di­dacy for the 156th Leg­isla­tive District on Jan. 6, 2015 .

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