People want to get to know me but they’re listening to the wrong people. In the past week, people have come to me with some of the craziest fictional facts about myself they’ve heard floating around town. Let’s take a moment to address one.
Have I been a Republican all my life?
If it were easy to view a person’s voter registration records, that piece of fiction would be squashed immediately. But, since you can’t, here’s my story on politics…
When I got my driver’s licenses out in Lima, PA at 16-years-old, I registered as a Democrat. I was just like the young people I’ve been speaking to around Chester lately who don’t think government is important to them. I did vote but never got involved in government because graduating college was my only priority.
When I see guys like William Morgan, Fred Green, Nafis Nichols and Nasir Leach get involved in politics so young, I admire them because all I wanted to do at that age was become an engineer and bust through every glass ceiling there was.
After graduation, my first job was at Philadelphia Gas Works where I spent 10 of the next 12 years. Of course, I was a registered Democrat while in Philadelphia. My cubicle mate, Sinclair Cooper, worked part-time for Willard Rouse doing commercial real estate deals and he got me involved in fundraising for District Attorney Ed Rendell’s run for mayor against Joe Egan. I met Rendell years later at St. Rep. Kirkland’s Cross Colors event in Eyre Park and reminded him of those fancy fundraising events in Center City. Rendell remembered them and thanked us for helping him get elected.
I moved to Denver in 1994 and on one of my first visits to the church I joined, the pastor called up to the pulpit Joe Rogers (RIP), a sharp young black attorney who was running for U.S. Congress. I introduced myself to Rogers and learned he was a Republican. I never knew there was such a thing as a black Republican. We talked. He introduced me to other black Republican’s, most notably, J.C. Watts, the former Oklahoma football star who is now recognized as the founder of the Black News Channel. Joe and I became close friends and I worked hard in his campaign. He lost that election but a couple years later he won the Lt. Governor’s seat. With Denver being the state capitol, it was so cool having complete access to the Capitol building whenever I pleased.
In 1999, I moved to New York City during the Giuliani/Bloomberg years but never got involved in government other than voting. When I moved back to Chester in 2002, jobless, the first thing my dad told me was that if I wanted a job in Chester, I had to register as a Republican. (Mom never subscribed to that notion and has always been a Democrat). I never considered there was a job for me in Chester, but, since I came back to Chester as a Republican, I just stayed registered as one.
Low and behold, that Republican registration got me a job in the Chester-Upland School District. Later, just by listing my high school mate (a powerful Republican in the State at the time) on a Delcora job application, it got an interview with them and I earned the opportunity to work there.
I became very sour to politics in Chester in 2008 when the Chester Spirit paper came to the city. At their kickoff event, St. Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland (D) and Mayor Wendell Butler (R) both took the stage and supported this new paper coming into Chester when I was sitting in the front row reporting for my own paper, The Chester Spotlight. Both political parties worked together to shut my paper down by bringing in The Chester Spirit when the Spotlight and Spirit could have easily joined forces and created one strong community paper for Chester. Of course, The Chester Spirit couldn’t get any traction in Chester, and my publishing effort just keeps on rolling here, now as The Chester Matters Blog…and occasional paper.
After that fiasco at the Chester Spirit kickoff, I was done with both political parties in Chester. But, after seeing what happened when Mayor John Linder (D) took office in 2008 opened my eyes. Corporations and institutions immediately turned their backs on Chester and took their support and money away from city government due to the change in party. To date, the Democrats have not made up that lost ground.
In 2020, when Delaware County Council and all row offices flipped to all Democrats, I changed my registration back to Democrat because I knew that Chester could finally get some of its mojo back now that the city, county and state are all aligned in one party.
I’m not convinced the current Chester administration is taking advantage of the Democratic Party alignment to their benefit. There still seems to be a brick wall separating city government from the county and I can’t figure out why.
So, with my strong relationship with Delaware County government, I figure I can help Chester establish the connections between city, county and state government so Chester can get the help they need for the people who live here.
So, if someone tells you I’ve been a Republican all my life, tell them to stop lying.