The Upper Moreland Board of Commissioners held a special meeting, June 25, to determine who will complete former Ward 7 commissioner .
Two candidates were nominated for consideration:
- Don Warner - Nominated by Ward 5 commissioner Kip McFatridge. Warner served on the Upper Moreland School board for eight years, half of which as its vice president and chair of the Programs and Facilities committee. Warner, a realtor, has lived in the township since the early 1980s. “I want to be involved with the future growth of the community,” he said during his time before the board.
- Dr. Philip Sabatelli - Nominated by Ward 1 commissioner Lisa Romaniello. Sabatelli, a retired college professor, has his Ph.D. in Communications and Social Psychology from Temple University. He served for over 45 years in the private and public sectors as a communications skills trainer. Sabatelli has lived in Upper Moreland with his wife and family since 2007. “ I applied for the vacant seat, because I love being able to help people,” he said during his time before the board.
Both nominees were first asked to speak about themselves before the board, after which the floor was opened to commissioner and public comments and questions.
Romaniello spoke first, asking the nominees to discuss topics about commissioners’ demand for full financial disclosure; commitment to the position and whether or not the nominee agreed with auditing township services.
To this last question, both nominees agreed they would be in favor of such an audit, stating that it’s important for a commissioner to get all the facts first prior to discussing township issues.
Both nominees also held positions on being fiscally conservative.
The sitting commissioners thanked both nominees for their interest in the Ward 7 position, and the majority recognized qualifying aspects of each nominee. However, commissioners Kip McFatridge, Donna Parsell and Sam Valenza did speak in favor of Warner being appointed to the position.
“I am in support of Don Warner, because he has been out canvassing and walking the streets prior to this, and he has always had the will to run for the position,” McFatridge, who spoke to both nominees prior to the special meeting, said. “I hope we can get Mr. Sabatelli on one of our other boards, because of your expertise.”
Warner, who stepped down from his position with the school board in 2011, had made his intentions known to run in the 2013 Ward 7 election. At the special meeting, Warner informed the board that he had distributed informational flyers this year at the primary elections.
Parsell echoed McFatridge by encouraging Sabatelli to apply for other township positions, and stated her reasons for supporting Warner were due to his knowledge of the school board and of the township’s tax structure.
Valenza, later in the meeting, said he also supported Warner due to his continual presence at the at committee and board meetings throughout the year.
Other Warner supporters, including April Stainback, a current school board member, who pointed out that Warner voted on the school board to keep a 0-percent tax increase for the 2011-2012 school year; while Willow Grove Chamber of Commerce members Richard Booth and Jonathon de Jonge noted his leadership position with the chamber’s board, as well as Warner’s school board work with Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) guidelines.
Supporters of Sabatelli included Upper Moreland Democrat Committee chair Nick Scull, as well as Romaniello. Each said Sabatelli was a highly qualified candidate, citing his years of experience in training and certifying members of the business community, as well as governmental agencies. Romaniello added that Sabatelli was a nominee that reflected the same values and stances McKenna represented for Ward 7 residents.
She also objected to Warner holding the position, given his intention to run as a Ward 7 candidate in the 2013 election.
“Next year is an election year, and I feel that we are giving an unfair advantage to one candidate,” Romaniello said. “This board needs an independent voice, someone who is free of the obstacles of this community, who can come up and give a fresh opinion.”
In a vote of 5-1, Don Warner was appointed to the position of Ward 7 commissioner.
After the regular monthly committee meetings, which proceed the special meeting, Patch caught up with Ward 7 appointed commissioner Warner.
“I’m honored, and I was greatly surprised,” Warner said.
He said he plans on making reasonable contributions to township discussions, hoping to help increase board efficiency and be a friendly face to the community.
“I want to make sure that all of our township workers fully recognize that the community is our customer,” Warner said.
Warner also expressed concern for McKenna’s health, and wished the best for the former commissioner.