Carol DiJoseph’s Crescent Avenue house was looking a little bare in mid December. The movers hadn’t come yet, but the home definitely didn’t look like it had been lived in for the past 36 years.
DiJoseph, President of the Abington Board of Commissioners, is moving to southern New Jersey, and is stepping down from her post. She made the decision quietly last summer and her last day was Monday.
“We were really looking for a quieter lifestyle. We love Abington. Abington’s been good to us and I’d like to think that we’ve been good to Abington,” DiJoseph said. “It seems news to some people because I guess we didn’t talk about it a lot; we weren’t really advertising it.”
The “we” refers to DiJoseph’s husband Larry. The two have been married for 48 years and DiJoseph said jokingly that she credits him for bringing her to the township. DiJoseph is originally from Horsham.
Larry, a lifelong Abington resident and former police officer, is also somewhat responsible for DiJoseph’s entering local politics in the late 1980s.
“At the time there was controversy with the former police chief in Abington,” DiJoseph said. “I attended a lot of meetings and at one of them I looked up and said, ‘You know what? I think I could do that. I’d like to put my hand in this.’ The only other thing I ever did was student council in school!
“It got me interested and I think I’ve always been able to talk to a lot of different people and try to be a liaison,” she continued. “That’s really been my role. Commissioners, literally we’re supposed to be policy makers, but we spend more time being a liaison — answering the phones and complaints and even compliments — letting the staff know what the problems are. I enjoyed that. I enjoy working together with people, trying to solve problems.”
Though DiJoseph served as the board president, she said she didn’t think she was any more important than anyone else on the board. The fact that she was a retired English teacher — having taught for more than 30 years in the Upper Dublin and North Penn school districts — put her in a good position to be the president, allowing her to spend more time dealing with residents’ concerns.
“I don’t want to give myself more importance than I think I have, but in the structure of the government, it takes on an importance that you have to acknowledge,” DiJoseph said. “I think I’m replaceable, but I know you have to do some shifting and legal work [to find a replacement.]”
DiJoseph initially just told board vice president Peggy Myers and township manager Michael LeFevre about her intention to leave the township.
Looking back at her tenure, DiJoseph said that she’s proud of the way the township has “kept up with the times” in terms of development. She also said the township has remained a great atmosphere for families and lauded the township staff for keeping the budget in line and for retaining township services.
As for the not-so-sunny moments, DiJoseph pointed out a recent meeting in police removed a resident; she also said the human relation committee hearings were particularly trying for her, as some residents called her some hateful names.
Does DiJoseph want a similar role in her new south Jersey town? Probably not, but she’s not necessarily closing the door on anything either.
Back in Abington, DiJoseph said she attended a township luncheon in early December and was touched by the many people who thanked her for her service.
“But it occurred to me that I should be thanking the residents,” she said.
The board will likely choose DiJoseph’s successor at a meeting later this month.