Dems urge GOP supervisors to appoint Medini

By on January 24, 2018

Marcello Medini, a Democrat who finished third in the November election for two open Warwick Twp. supervisor seats, drew community support to appoint him to a board position that opened Jan. 2.

The Jan. 17 Warwick Township Board of Supervisors meeting seemed like an evening to honor Democrat Marcello Medini, as residents came out to offer support for his appointment to an open board seat.

The seat opened when Republican Jeff McSparran resigned shortly before taking office this month, citing personal and business reasons.

Medini had run an unsuccessful campaign for supervisor, placing third in the November election of two new supervisors.

There was some tension last week when supervisors Logan Myers, Kenneth Eshleman, and newly elected Andrew Spade — who was also voted into office in the November election — voted to appoint Michael Vigunas to fill the two-year term.

Vigunas, a Republican, who formerly served on the board for 22 years, decided not to run for the office again in November 2017.

The supervisors’ decision about the vacant position was made despite substantial praise from 17 Medini supporters attending the meeting.

“Marcello Medini is a family man, a church member, and a man of character and dedication. He has the qualifications and is concerned about growth and making Warwick Township a better place to live,” said Sandra Knaub, a 14-year resident and retired pastor.

Warwick supervisors voted to appoint Republican Michael Vigunas to fill board seat term opened when Republican Jeff McSparran resigned shortly before taking office Jan. 2.

Scott Althouse, a Warwick Democratic Committee member, asked supervisors to give Medini full consideration, calling him a “wonderful person, who is representative of the people in our community.”

Cathy Gelatka, a retired Warwick School District teacher and 2015 Democratic candidate for the school board, supported Medini’s appointment.

“Marcello is very willing and capable to work with other people and reach across the aisle,” she said.

Karie Nickens expressed a personal approval of Medini.

“I am speaking on behalf of Marcello Medini, whom I have known through his wife, Sherry, for six and half years,” she said. “He is full of endless energy and focus. I hope you will consider him for this position. He wants the position. He campaigned for it, and he wants the job.”

Nickens had written a letter to the editor in the Lititz Record Express, noting that Medini earned well over 1,000 votes, has degrees in political science and philosophy from Rutgers University, and has experience on the Warwick Township Planning Commission.

In the end the, GOP dominated board chose Vigunas, who will retake his seat as a supervisor at a Feb. 7 swearing in ceremony.

Vigunas and the fourth supervisor, Herb Flosdorf, did not attend the Jan. 17 meeting.

When contacted after the meeting, Myers, Warwick Township supervisors chair, said several people had sent letters and expressed interest in the vacant position. A few were former supervisors.

Myers said he asked Vigunas if he’d be interested in coming back.

He was.

“Mike has served Warwick Township for 22 years as a supervisor and he have a great deal of experience,” said Myers. “We felt that with some issues coming up, that Mike’s experience was very important.”

Medini said he appreciated the support from Warwick Township residents.

“I am very humbled by all the support I received this evening. I will continue serving the township on the planning commission and I hope to run for supervisor again in 2019,” said Medini.

More than 25 area residents came to the Jan. 17 Warwick Township supervisors to support Marcello Medini’s bid to fill the vacant seat as township supervisor.

Anne Pyle, a Democrat who lost a bid for director on the Warwick School Board in November, cited Medini’s experience on the planning commission and his understanding of planning and zoning. She pointed out that Medini had earned the third highest number of votes in the November 2017 election.

“I saw him work very, very hard, and the voters spoke,” said Pyle. “Party doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if the supervisor is a Democrat or a Republican.”

In a post to The Lititz Record Express Facebook page, Medini praised the community and said the Warwick board and staff have done a lot of things right. However, he questioned the process used in overlooking him for the open supervisor seat.

“This is not a party issue but an issue of transparency,” he said. “With the exception of Andy Spade, every member of the board of supervisors came from the planning commission which I currently serve.

Medini also suggested the board acted unnecessarily hasty in making its decision.

“What (people) heard at the meeting was we don’t consider public input,” he wrote.

Myers explained that McSparran had attended meetings as the supervisor-elect and that he (Myers) was disappointed that Jeff was unable to serve. Myers said the board had to act quickly in order to fill the seat, which is why Vigunas and former supervisor Dave Kramer came to mind.

The board decided to go with Vigunas because of his experience, he said.

Kramer attended the Jan. 17 meeting to support the supervisors’ decision to appoint Vigunas. He indicated that, if asked, he might have considered returning to his position as supervisor.

“Mike is a good, fine fellow,” said Kramer. “I think you have done the right thing.”

Like Vigunas, Kramer had decided not to run for reelection in the November 2017 election where McSparran received 1,862 votes, followed by Spade with 1,768 votes, Medini with 1,032 votes and fellow Democrat Jack Enco pulled in 937 votes.

Myers said that the high GOP vote totals mattered in the decision to overlook Medini.

“The voters voted for two Republican candidates (Spade and McSparran) in the November election,” said Myers, “so we needed to take that into account.”

Still, Medini said the board failed to consider all options.

“Four other people came forward and not one of them was addressed in public, nor was Mr. Vigunas present to address the public at that meeting,” he noted. “I can fully understand the merits of bringing him back, but no other options were considered.

Medini said he was told no executive sessions, private meetings, or interviews would occur “and this would be open to the public.”

“Yet Myers responded to everyone but myself, it seems, and had a private conversations,” he noted. “In contrast, in Elizabeth Township the three interested candidates were interviewed by the board in public. In Lebanon, Democrats appointed a Republican to fill the vacancy because the Republican was most qualified.”

Vigunas, who was out of town for the Jan. 17 meeting, said he was shocked when he heard about McSparran’s unexpected resignation. He noted McSparran’s employer WGAL knew of his campaign, but it has not commented on if its policy precludes employees from seeking office.

When he notified the board of his decision not to seek reelection, Vigunas said he informed the board he’d be available to “help out if they ever needed him.”

“That’s what I am doing,” he said. “My experience means that I can come back to the board and continue things seamlessly,” Vigunas said. “I see it as my service to the township I have served for 22 years. When I decided not to run again, I fully expected to retire. But I did serve for a long time, and it was a little hard to leave.”

That’s not what many residents at the meeting wanted to hear.

Enco, who came out to support Medini, told the board: “Marcello is energetic and resourceful. He is the best qualified and I strongly encourage you to consider him.”

George Sayles, a democratic candidate on the November ballot for Warwick School Board, echoed the comments of those supporting Medini. He asked that supervisors overlook labels of Democrat or Republic, and choose the person who was best qualified. He also supported Medini’s youth and fresh, young ideas.

Robyn Talley, a Democrat who ran a few years back in Warwick Township’s Southwest District, said choosing Medini should have been a “no-brainer.”

“The man ran for the office, campaigned, and is next in line with the most votes,” she said. “He wants the job. Clearly, he is qualified, and he’s here. It seems natural to me. It seems right to me.”

Brittany Hoeschele, a new resident attending her first Warwick Township Supervisors meeting, said that she was hopeful that Medini would be appointed.

“I am disappointed by my first township meeting,” she said.

Other business

In other business, Warwick Township Supervisors agreed to erect signage on Market Street and Newport Road, renaming the Warwick Township Linear Park as the Dean L. Saylor Park. The park is being renamed in memory of Saylor, who passed away in October 2017 after a brief illness. He had served as public works superintendent for 25 years, during which time he had supervised Linear Park, as well as other parks and trails in the township.

Roadmaster Jason Minnich, who was Saylor’s assistant, is now serving as interim public works supervisor. Minnich reported that the recent snowy and icy weather had been presenting challenges to the roads crew. The township still has adequate supplies of salt, and is making an effort to conserve, while making safety a priority.

Crews had roads well cleared on the morning of Jan. 17, and then another two inches of snow fell, making their job tough during morning rush hour.

“We have a great group of dedicated guys,” said Minnich, noting that they have been out pretreating roads before snowfall and clearing the nuisance storms that have caused icy conditions due to very cold temperatures.

Supervisors approved a final land development plan for orthodontist Michael Palasz’s office on Toll Gate Road, with several conditions relating to curbs and sidewalks, access drive, clear sight triangle, and stormwater volume control.

The board also approved requests for the 26th annual Sauder’s Egg Run on March 31 and Lititz recCenter’s 4th annual Triathlon on Aug. 5.

Laura Knowles is a freelance reporter who covers the Warwick Township municipal beat for the Record Express. She can be reached at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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