Elected Democratic Officials'

Because Accountabillity Matters

In November, 2017 the Collegeville Democrats and many, many like-minded voters elected five great candidates to Borough Council and to the Mayor’s office! Collegeville Dems asked the newly elected officials (Cathy Kernen (now serving her 3rd term in office!), Marion McKinney, Mat McKnight, Shannon Spencer, and Aidsand Wright-Riggins (all serving their first terms in office)) to give their voters an update on what they’ve been doing so far.

Each of our newly elected Democrats has given a summary of their activities for the first half of 2018. 
Thank you Marion, Mat, Cathy, Shannon & Aidsand!
Service: Finance (chair); Community Service (chair); and Streets, Roads & Lighting (chair)
The first six months have been spent attending boot camp for newly elected officials.  Marion highly recommends this camp to anyone thinking about running for office.  Many lessons learned that she wishes she had had prior to taking office.  Marion decided to use her time going door to door meeting people and she has found that to be most rewarding!  Marion started this in April, but had to stop in May after she injured her ankle.  She plans on picking it up again.  She is still visiting homes on 9th Avenue, but plans on making her way around the Borough.  She will also be attending the next collaborative meeting with the other municipalities.

After getting updated information for The Rotary Club, the CEDC and other community-oriented groups that already working with Ursinus College, Marion renamed this committee and it will focus on community service. Marion is planning an event with West Chester University and Ursinus College Democrats.  That should prove to be beneficial for both schools and their respective communities! 

Marion championed a new parking ordinance that creates a residents-only parking area on Clamer Avenue for residents on that street who have no off-street parking.
Service: Public Safety (chair); Public Works (chair); and Parks
Mat met with Upper Providence and Trappe in June to initiate discussions on better collaboration between our communities.  The main reason to convene the meeting was to discuss ways we could cooperate to provide our fire companies with better use of their budgets, i.e. prevent duplication of equipment between the fire companies, etc.  We plan to have someone from the fire companies join us in the future to hear what they think or what ideas they have.
We plan to schedule routine meetings to give us a chance to discuss opportunities for collaboration.
Service: Collegeville Business Development Committee (chair); Personnel (chair); Central Perkiomen Valley Regional Planning Commission (Collegeville Representative).
The Borough Business Development Committee was formed in Jan. 2018 to work to attract new businesses to the Borough. Cathy and the 14 community members on the committee have met monthly from Feb., 2018 through the present. 
The Committee voted to follow the 2010 Collegeville Revitalization Plan, which was developed by the Montgomery County Planning Commission, as the committee’s road map.  You can look through the revitalization plan here.
We also totally updated the study’s work plan and have begun a review of the Borough’s zoning, ordinances and infrastructure in order to prepare to identify and attract businesses that would hopefully be successful in the borough.

To Date The Committee:
  • Has helped introduced Kimberton Whole Foods to the Community through a reception and Open House Weekend and promotional opportunities;
  • Is working with potential buyers for the Perkiomen Bridge Hotel.  We organized a meeting with DCED concerning loans and grants available, and introduced them to our Borough Manager, Borough Engineer, and other local business owners along the creek;
  • Received guidance from Steve Barth, Barth Consulting Group, who has worked to attract businesses in the Boroughs of Hatboro and Perkasie on best practices to revitalize the Collegeville Business District;
  • Heard advice from Collegeville building and business owners and Brixmor, the management company for the Collegeville Shopping Center, on how best to proceed;
  • Conducted a vacant spaces audit of spaces available for new businesses;
  • Participated in a “Walking Audit” down Main St. and through the two shopping centers with Eric Jarrell, Section Chief of Community Planning of the Montgomery County Planning Commission, and Dave Zellers, head of the Montgomery County Dept. of Commerce.  The audit identified the strengths and weaknesses of our business district and provided us with ideas to rejuvenate it and types of businesses to attract.  We will also be reviewing the Borough’s sign ordinance, considering infill development, and looking at parking options.
  • Reviewed the effect of the proposed development in Lower Providence just over the Perkiomen Creek Bridge, the development of Royal Farms, and the future construction of a second bridge over the creek on our business district; and
  • We are currently meeting with all the building and business owners in the borough to get their advice, ideas and concerns on moving forward with a business recruitment plan.
In the first six months of 2018, the commission has worked with the National Lands Trust to develop stewardship plans for Waterworks and Hunsberger Parks, as well as reviewed development plans of regional significance.
Cathy has rewritten and finalized the Borough Manager’s Job Description with input from the Council, and is in the process of rewriting the Borough Administrative Assistant Job Description.
Service: Collegeville Planning Commission (vice-chair); Communications Committee (chair); Central Perkiomen Valley Regional Planning Commission (alternate). 
Since taking office, Shannon has attended several webinars about serving in local government, has prepared for and attended meetings and has worked to develop the communications committee.  The Democratic candidates ran on a platform that included increasing transparency, and that has informed Shannon's actions as an elected official.  As chair of the communications committee, this plays a large role in the direction of the committee. 

The Planning Commission (PC) has met twice during the first half of 2018 (it was scheduled to meet a third time, but we did not have a quorum, so that meeting was cancelled).  The agenda items have included the Royal Farms development, Hookah Lounge regulations, the Ursinus College Student Commons development, and updates from the Central Perkiomen Valley Regional Planning Commission.  The materials for the two developments are complicated planning documents, and require close reading and often need clarification during planning meetings.  In the case of Royal Farms (since there wasn’t the third PC meeting), clarifying questions were asked during the Borough Council meeting. 
  • The PC voted 4-3 to give preliminary approval to Royal Farms’ initial planning documents, without approval for the requested waivers.Those waivers were approved in Council.
  • The PC voted 5-0 to approve the Ursinus Student Commons development preliminary plan (with two members abstaining due to a conflict of interest).
  • The PC voted 7-0 to approve moving forward with Hookah Lounge regulations which restrict Hookah lounges to the industrially zoned areas of Collegeville.This was related to problematic experiences that we had had with other hookah establishments in town.
The communications committee is comprised of three community members and has been very active during the past six months.  We began meeting in January, and met weekly during much of February through May. 
  • We identified what the borough needs in our website and how the current site needs to be changed.The committee will be working with Geoff Thompson (our Borough Manager) to write a request for proposal (RFP), have it approved by Council, and then send it out to vendors. We will then interview vendors and accept bids.
  • The communications committee also set up a schedule of topics to cover in the upcoming Collegeville e-newsletter and we have been collecting email addresses of residents who would like to sign up for that newsletter (the signup form is linked from our Facebook page and from the Borough’s home page). We hope to get our first issue out this summer.
  • SIGN UP for the Borough's upcoming newsletter here!!
  • We also post items to the Borough’s Facebook page.
Gerrymandering (the practice of drawing voting districts to get a certain political party elected) is a problem throughout the country, and Pennsylvania is no exception.  In fact, our state has some of the worst gerrymandering in the country, which caused our 2018 US congressional maps to be redrawn.  However, the state supreme court ruling that redrew those maps, did not touch the gerrymandered state-level voting districts (for PA house and senate). To support efforts to make changes to how districts are drawn, Shannon brought a redistricting resolution to Council in March 2018.  This resolution was one that was supported by the organization Fair Districts PA, and stated that we here in Collegeville support having a citizen redistricting commission for state-wide districts.  This resolution passed 4-3 (all four Democratic candidates voted for it).  Read it here.
At the PA state house the bill that supported that citizen commission (HB 722) was gutted in committee so that it gives even more power to the party in power (currently the Republicans).  And the bill in the PA Senate (SB 22) was altered in committee, but appears to be intact enough to provide some protections for voters. 
We must elect Dems at the state level!!
Service: 2018 -2019 Mayoral Initiatives include: Sustainable Collegeville; “Best of The Boroughs: A Kaleidoscope of Talent”; Living Room Conversations; Collegeville Connect
  • In the Fall of 2018 the Mayor plans to work with Borough Council members to initiate a movement to engage Collegeville in the Sustainable Pennsylvania Community Certification project. This project will help Collegeville objectively assess where we are and provide a template for how we might progress towards excellence. This project is a voluntary performance recognition program to help municipalities achieve their sustainability goals to save money, conserve resources, and encourage innovation. It is intended to bring recognition to municipalities that are applying the policy and practice of sustainability as their way of operating in order to advance community prosperity. Focused on municipal operations, policies, and practices, the certification also serves as a mechanism for sharing best practices for creating a more sustainable Pennsylvania. Some of the broader municipal areas this assessment and initiative addresses include: Governance and Community Engagement; Thriving Local Economy; Healthy Community; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Education; Energy and Conservation; Environment Stewardship; Housing; Sustainable Neighborhoods and Land Use and Transportation.The program provides communities with an online structure and performance platform for recognition as they adopt sustainable policies and practices. The certifications (Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Associate level) are free and strictly voluntary. The program helps municipalities progress from whatever their municipal practices are or have been in the past toward achieving a sustainable future. For more information about this project click here.
  • To read Collegeville's existing Sustainability Plan (2014), click here.
  • WHAT - A talent competition beginning in each borough (Collegeville, Trappe, Bridgeport, Royersford, Conshohocken, West Conshohocken) with a final, ultimate talent competition culminating at Ursinus College.  A nonprofit entity from each borough will be featured; ticket sales from each individual borough’s talent competition could go toward that borough’s nonprofit organization… the winner of the final MontCo Talent Competition (“The Best of the Boroughs!”) at Ursinus would represent his/her/their borough’s nonprofit who would receive ticket proceeds from final competition!
  • WHERE - Across Montgomery County and at Ursinus College!
  • WHEN: In the year of Ursinus’ 150 anniversary, the summer / fall of 2019 and Winter of 2020.
  • WHY - Build community across Montgomery County and within each borough, spread awareness about local nonprofit organizations, promote and feature Ursinus College, strengthen community relations between Ursinus College and Collegeville, engage community organizations for the benefit of the public.
  • In the fall of 2018 “Living Room Conversations” will be launched at Perkiomen Valley High School.This initiative is the result of a proposal of Mayor Wright-Riggins and Care Study Intern Erin Quinn to the administration of the school. Living Room Conversations are conversational bridges across issues that divide and separate us. They provide an easy structure for engaging in friendly yet meaningful conversation with those with whom we may not agree.
  • The methodology for Living Room Conversations is straightforward and simple. The main idea of a living room conversation is to create a well-rounded discussion between a group of people on controversial issues. The topics being cover a wide variety of issues from the environment to political ideologies, all being displayed on the website.
  • To facilitate a conversation a cohost must be present. The cohost is important because he/she runs the flow of the conversations and the questions being asked, ensuring that there is meaningful discussion taking place on the topic. Mayor Wright-Riggins will serve as a cohost in the beginning and teach others in the district to cohost the event as well. Faculty member Ms. Coryat, has also already agreed that she would sponsor the conversations through the student group, “Equalis” every two months in library, which would be open to all students to attend and participate in.
  • As a “champion of all things Collegeville” the Mayor will continue to promote businesses, organizations and services of the Borough of Collegeville and surrounding communities.
The Mayor maintains an active public relations role, speaking and representation schedule on behalf of the borough.In the fall of 2018 and Winter of 2019, he plans to launch a monthly social media-based program to aggressively promote the borough and its services and entities.
If you are interested in becoming involved in these initiatives, advocating for them, or participating directly in them, Mayor Wright-Riggins welcomes your engagement.  Please feel free to contact him at:
(888) 804 2945  
Follow him:
Instagram – MayorAidsand
Facebook – WrightRiggins4Us
Twitter - @Aidsand
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