One of the newer members of the Abington Board of Commissioners is stepping down later this month.
Abington Commissioner and State Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-153, announced last week in a letter that she is stepping down as commissioner of Ward 7 as of Aug. 15. Dean, in an interview yesterday, said that she sent the letter to each of her constituents, and also notified all of the members of the Abington Board of Commissioners in person.
The reason for Dean stepping down? Too many titles.
An excerpt from the Aug. 1 letter to her constituents:
“From the beginning, I was enthusiastic about the opportunity to serve you on dual levels, both as township commissioner and state representative. In fact, working with your day-to-day concerns and opinions informed my legislative work in Harrisburg. Nevertheless, I’ve found that this duality has an unworkable drawback, namely that I can’t be physically present, as required, in both Abington and Harrisburg when important commissioner and legislative sessions are scheduled at the same time. To date, I have been able to attend meetings on both levels, but going forward I see conflicts arising and my absence at either would not be fair to you.”
“No two days in Harrisburg are the same,” Dean said yesterday, “but the letter reflects why I’m stepping down. I have some really good committee assignments, and I will have more and more meetings in the future, and I didn’t in any way want to short-change the residents of Ward 7.”
Dean, when she announced her intention to step down, only served as commissioner of Ward 7 for about seven months; she was after she defeated Republican Matthew Willis in the November election. She took 65 percent of the vote.
Dean spoke about her role as State Representative at the May board of commissioners meeting.
“I had the really great honor and privilege [May 8] to be sworn in as your newest state representative,” Dean said. “And so, I wanted to just tell you that my heart is very full. I find it to be an extraordinary honor to be serving Abington and Upper Dublin. I want to thank my colleagues here on the board, across the aisle …”
House leadership assigned Dean to the finance, human services and urban affairs committees, and she volunteered to be on the select committee on property tax.
“I’m really enjoying my time [as State Rep.],” she said. “I’m learning a lot and I’m thrilled to still be connected to Ward 7.”
But as of Aug. 15, she will be a little less connected — and the board will likely be down another Democrat. Including Dean, there are six Democrats on the board; there were seven until Ward 6 Commissioner Les Benzak recently stepped down. The board appointed Republican Stephen Kalinoski as his replacement.
Scrolling past the comments section of previous stories, it seems that some residents were happy to have Dean represent them in Harrisburg; others seemed bothered by the possibility of Dean leaving Ward 7 constituents with a commissioner for whom the majority did not vote.
On the possibility of losing another Democrat, Dean said, “I’m hoping we don’t. The ward voted overwhelmingly for a Democrat, and I’m hoping that [the board] finds a qualified Democrat to fill that role.”
And part of the reason Dean’s resignation isn’t effective Thursday (at the Board of Commissioners meeting) is that she said she wanted to give the board ample time to find her successor.
In her letter to Ward 7 residents, she wrote:
“I have expressed my wishes to the board that they conduct this appointment procedure in a transparent manner – and that they consider the concerns and desires of the residents of Ward 7 in the process.”
While Dean said the board did "nothing wrong" when it appointed Kalinoski as Benzak's successor, she said the board has the "opportunity to do better," referring to the process.
Dean will address the issue of her resignation at the Abington Board of Commissioners meeting tonight at 8 p.m.