“Chester Country” Fails in Recent Elections

Name: David Van Camp Age: 50 Place of Birth: Buckner Other Occupations: Full-time employee of seven-and-a-half years for Archbold Alligator Farm in front office Primary Responsibilities: Manages tax, payroll, route management, and customer service,…

"Chester Country" Fails in Recent Elections

Name: David Van Camp

Age: 50

Place of Birth: Buckner

Other Occupations: Full-time employee of seven-and-a-half years for Archbold Alligator Farm in front office

Primary Responsibilities: Manages tax, payroll, route management, and customer service, and serves as Volunteer Outreach director

Category of Work: Marine

Derby by a two-point margin, Chester County garnered the lowest approval rating in the state of Pennsylvania for elected officials, according to the Pa. Politics Daily. Common Cause Pennsylvania conducts its annual election integrity poll, and Chester County fared particularly poorly, as just 6.2 percent of likely voters approved the incumbents, and 80.8 percent disapproved. In comparison, Luzerne County and Philadelphia took second and third place, with slightly higher approval ratings, 6.9 percent and 17.8 percent, respectively.

And yet, Rob McBride, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, which has been conducting its annual campaign finance survey for 30 years, sees nothing unusual about Chester County’s poor track record.

“I really don’t think it says anything about the county itself or its citizens in general, or the kind of work that’s being done there,” he said. “I really think it says more about that supervisors were elected by folks who made that kind of choice.”

Why Chester County?

“What makes a county do well is that it’s represented fairly, and people know where they stand and so on. And that comes from a quality of elected officials,” he said. “So we’re seeing more counties come through with good performing elected officials. There’s more of those places than there are places that are not.”

It’s easy to win re-election by being one of the top five percent of vote-getters, McBride said. That’s a testament to that quality of elected officials, and an indication that voters are comfortable with the way their government operates.

Why Chester County?

“I would really like to say the same thing about Philadelphia and say the same thing about Delaware and Montgomery counties,” McBride said. “There are counties in every part of the state that have good performing elected officials.”

One county that doesn’t fit the description of “successful elected officials” is Chester County. But Chester, just like its neighbors to the south, has consistently struggled with low approval ratings, coupled with an insular and partisan board of supervisors, said the state’s most prominent environmentalist and former World Bank senior executive.

David Van Camp has spent nearly half his life as an Ecologist, working as a consultant for both the World Bank and the UN.

As an Ecologist, he’s watched as US policy has turned the field into one defined by self-interest, where corporations and government agencies play off each other. He was also deeply involved in the founding of the Pissable Landfill, the largest of its kind in the world, which produced 8,500 tons of discharge on 1,500 acres in Northern Pennsylvania, and finally secured a Superfund designation that would, according to the EPA, “prevent the dangers posed by Pissable Landfill to the drinking water and air of the local and downstream communities.”

Even as the decades-long fight wound down, the denial of Superfund classification was fought by the Chester County Environment Group (CEG) before it was approved by the EPA. The most infamous proposal to fight the issues remained from 2001 to 2002. Chester County is famous in environmental circles for the Smoketown Preserve, where city and state employees stockpiled refuse in a dump.

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